Camping at Crater Lake's main campground at Mazama Village is now run by park conglomerate Xanterra, in control of many of the most popular National Park's accommodations. They certainly seem to do a good job but it appears prices generally rise when they take over. Reservations also take over from the first come, first served mentality that was the hallmark of the system prior. For families with set vacations, it is probably easier and more convenient. For those traveling on less structured trips, it is more of a hindrance. That said, Crater Lake is still thankfully not so popular that arriving without a reservation seems to be a problem.
The park also runs a small tent only campground called Lost Creek which is first come, first served but it is only open from mid-July till early October. We unfortunately arrived a bit early for that.
We were only there for one night so set up our tent and went out to explore the lake. We returned in the dark after enjoying the sunset on the lake only to find the campground swarming with mosquitoes. With the very late snow melt that summer, the conditions were more Spring-like. We made up a quick meal and, crammed all our stuff back in the bear storage box, and got into the tent as quickly as possible. It was not exactly the perfect camping evening!
We were up very early the next morning as we wanted to be at the lake for sunrise. It was very cold breaking down the tent but at least the mosquitoes weren't out yet. We opted for a cereal bar in the car rather than waste precious time at the campground we were likely to have few fond memories of.
Mazama is a big campground of 200 sites. The spots are a bit cramped and not particularly scenic considering how beautiful the area is and how much space the park has to work with. You line up at a kiosk and basically take whatever they give you. For what you get, the $21 price seems a bit steep but showers are available for a reasonable $1 per person. There is a convenience store and small restaurant as well. Bear storage containers are provided at each spot and all food must be stored in them.
Near Crater Lake, smaller but wonderfully accomidating, Diamond Lake is a great place to camp, boat, fish and sniff things.
One of the great lodges of the national park system. The rooms are fairly spartan, but the location is second to none. The lodge has a patio with big wooden chairs. Nice place to sit and ponder while having a beer or wine.
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