Crater Lake National Park Things to Do

  • Rim Drive
    Rim Drive
    by Jim_Eliason
  • Wizard island
    Wizard island
    by Jim_Eliason
  • Wizard Island is your destination
    Wizard Island is your destination
    by richiecdisc

Most Recent Things to Do in Crater Lake National Park

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    Crater Lake Boat Tour

    by jmpncsu Updated Dec 26, 2013
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    The boat tour is the absolute best way to see Crater Lake. It's only available during the summer months (end of June to mid September), but if you visit the park during that time, the boat tour is fantastic. The tour does require hiking down the Cleetwood Cove Trail, however (see my tip for this trail). Losing and then gaining 700 feet of elevation, this trail is strenuous and is not for people who aren't in good shape. The boat departs from the dock at the end of Cleetwood Cove Trail and goes around the lake in the counterclockwise direction. About half way through, the boat stops at Wizard Island, and you can also do a tour of the volcanic island and stay here for about three hours. I wrote a separate tip for Wizard Island. From Wizard Island, the boat finishes up the loop around the perimeter of the lake. A park ranger accompanies the tour and talks about the cultural and natural history of the lake. Many of the features seen from the boat cannot be seen from the rim or can only be seen from a distance. Some of the things you can see from boat include: Llao Rock, named for the Klamath god of the underworld; Devil's Backbone, a rock formation that looks surprisingly like a spine; Wizard Island; Chaski Bay with a couple of waterfalls that can only be seen from lake level; Phantom Ship up close. I think this was my favorite thing on the tour. Seeing it from the rim, it looks so small. From the boat doing a quick loop around the island, I realized how big the island really is. And it still looks like a mysterious ship; Pumice Castle, a bright orange rock formation in the shape of a castle; Palisades, brightly colored cliffs; and Old Man of the Lake, a vertically bobbing tree trunk that has been in the lake for more than a century.

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    Wizard Island

    by jmpncsu Written Dec 23, 2013
    Start of WIzard Summit Trail
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    Wizard Island is a volcano inside a volcano! It is a volcanic cinder cone that formed inside the Mount Mazama crater that rises above the surface of the lake and forms an island. Shaped like a Wizard's hat - something Gandolf would wear - it's only accessible through the boat tours through Xanterra. When booking a boat tour, you can optionally add on a side trip to Wizard Island. The boat will drop you off at the dock about half way through the tour and then pick you back up three hours later. From the dock, there are two trails to hike and explore the island. The Wizard Summit Trail is a steep trail that leads up to the summit. It's only about 1 mile up to the top, but gains more than 700 feet in elevation. A series of switchbacks lessen the slope and you will likely be so enthralled by the beautiful scenery from the trail that you won't even notice. The crater at the top of Wizard Island is called Witch's Cauldron, in keeping with the mythological names of park features and the trail makes a loop around the crater. Dead trees line the crater - these trees were killed by dwarf mistletoe, a parasitic plant. The other trail on the island is Fumarole Bay Trail, which leads to the beautiful bay on the west side of the island. This trail isn't too steep, but very rocky and can be difficult to follow. But Fumarole Bay is absolutely beautiful, with turquoise water the color of lagoon in Polynesia. If hiking isn't your thing, you can go fishing or swimming in the water near Fumarole Bay. Just be warned, the water is extremely cold - way too cold for me to get in. The boat tours and stops on Wizard Island are only available during the summer - late June to mid September - so be sure to get tickets in advance. This is a can't miss tour.

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    Cleetwood Cove Trail

    by jmpncsu Written Dec 11, 2013
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    Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only legal access to the lake. The trail runs from the north side of rim down to the lake at the boat dock. In about 1.1 miles, the trail gains/loses about 700 feet of elevation. It's not so bad going down, but you will definitely feel it coming back up. We hiked this trail down and back up to catch the boat tour and Wizard Island Tour, probably the most common reason for hiking this trail. But even if you're not going on the tour, it's worth it to get down to the lake and touch the chilly blue waters of Crater Lake. Just take your time, particularly when going back up, and bring plenty of water. If you reach the bottom and don't have enough water, you can get a refill from the lake. Normally, I would never drink untreated water, but a ranger on the tour told us that the water in Crater Lake is clean enough to drink. Not only that, but it's very cold and tasted much better than tap water from the hotel. Much too cold for me to go swimming, but if you don't mind chilly water, this is the only spot to take a dip in the lake. Once again, this is the only legal way to access the lake. The drop from the rim to the lake is extremely steep and if you attempt to go down anywhere else, there's a good chance you could die. And if you survive, expect a citation from the park rangers, so stick to the Cleetwood Cove Trail.

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    Cleetwood Trail

    by Jim_Eliason Written Sep 12, 2013
    Cleetwood Trail
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    This is the only trail that leads down to the water's edge and is the embarkation point for the boat tours on the lake. Its also a place for those with a strong constitution to take a swim in the icy water. The hike back up is strenuous so bring water and be prepared.

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    Wizard island

    by Jim_Eliason Written Sep 12, 2013
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    This large island within the lake is formed by a newer volcanic cone forming within the older collapsed crater. It's accessible by boat tour but on busy summer weekends advanced reservations are usually required.

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    Chaski Slide

    by GuthrieColin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Chaski Slide
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    The Chaski slide is a fairly noticeable landform on the caldera wall. The landslide is said to have happened after the collapse of Mt Mazama but before the lake filled in. When you are up next to it you can easily see how this huge mass of rock could have slipped down into the caldera from the steep walls.
    The other interesting features of the Chaski Slide are the 3 separate waterfalls that run into the lake. The majority of wildlife that has been viewed within the caldera is also seen in this area.
    Chaski is not someone’s last name. it is actually a word meaning "little fox" and was named that for the areas resemblance to the shape of a fox lying on its back.

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    Devil's Backbone

    by GuthrieColin Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Devil’s Backbone is a volcanic radial dike that was formed when lava was pushed into cracks in Mt. Mazama and cooled. The surrounding material (pumice and lava flows) has weathered away and now this dike has been uncovered.
    This landform may not seem all that impressive but to a geologist it must be like the holy grail as it is only formed beneath the surface of a building volcano. Dikes like this one are present in all strato-volcano (layered) but are far beneath the surface.
    The actual “spine" is about 427 feet (130m) at its tallest point and runs up the entire rim of the canyon. It is however less than 20 feet wide in any given point.

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    Steel Visitor's Center

    by Hopkid Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Open year round!
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    Located down the road from the Rim Village, the Steel Visitor's Center is co-located with the Park Headquarters. Stop here before heading up the to crater rim for infomation on what is open/closed, scheduled park activities, hiking guides, etc. There is also a selection of books about the park, the National Park Service, the Cascades Mountain Range, flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest, and other topics related to the park. There is also an informational video that they will start up upon request. There is also a post office there.

    Definitely stop here for info if you come before mid-June as the Rim Village Visitor's Center is closed from October to mid-June.

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    RIM VILLAGE

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Rim Village classic view of Wizard Island

    This is the centerpoint for touristic activity in the Park. A summertime buzz of cars, people, ice cream cones and squirrels looking for handouts. The restored Crater Lake Lodge is here along with the ubiquitous Gift Shop and Cafeteria and a summertime Visitor Center. One of the best hikes, the 1.7 mile trail to Garfield Peak, start from here too.

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    WIZARD ISLAND

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Wizard Island from near the Watchman

    Rising 764 feet above the lake, Wizard Island - shaped as a sorcer's hat - is a classic cinder cone that formed after the collapse of Mt Mazama. The small crater atop Wizard Island impressed an early Oregon newsman enough for him to coin the name "Crater Lake'. You can take dayhikes on the island from the boat tours and there is a little fishing in and among the little islands on the north side of the Island. Fish used to be stocked in the Lake but that was stopped years ago. The lake is simply too deep and the fish had nothing to eat. Those that have survived are mostly found around Wizard Island.

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    The Rim Road

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Dutton Cliff, the Phantom Ship and South Rim

    Drive or Bike around the Rim Road. It is a 33 mile road that circles the rim of the caldera. There are lots of pulloffs, where you can go and appreciate a new and different view of the lake and its blueness. Snow levels will vary the season the road is open from year to year. It is usually July to mid-October.

    There are several picnic areas along the road and most of the best trails in the park come off the road too: the Watchman, Garfield Peak and Mt Scott.

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    Take a boat ride on the Lake

    by mtncorg Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Boats at Cleetwood Cove on Crater Lake

    From the NE corner of the Rim Road, you take the trail down one mile to Cleetwood Cove. From there, you can take a boat tour lasting 1 3/4 hours which takes you around the lake, visiting both Wizard Island and the Phantom Ship. I recommend getting here early as it can get crowded. If you wanted to make a day of it, take food and water along one of the first boats - usually around 830 - and get off at Wizard Island. This is a little volcano that rose up form the caldera of the old Mt Mazama. It is not the only cone to do so, but it is the only one to rise above the lake surface. One trail will take you to the top of the island's cone - 6940 feet/2116m - the lake surface is 6176 feet/1882m. Another trail takes you to Fumerole Bay. There are a few introduced trout in the lake which have not thrived since there is not much for them to eat due to the vast depths of the lake. It is around here you might catch one though. If you get off on Wizard Island, be prepared to stay for awhile though as you won't be able to get back on one of the boats until there is room and many of the tours through the middle part of the day stay full. Boats run from July to early September.

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    Natural wonder, no less

    by Martin75 Written Sep 12, 2010

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    Crater Lake is definately one of the "hidden" treasures in the world. A volcanic wonder that while standing at the edge will leave you speechless. There are many places around the lake where you can stop and enjoy the breathtaking views. Be sure to use a whole day or more in the park as the look and colour of the lake changes during the day. We got the best pictures in the morning and afternoon where the lake looked deep blue. There is a Visitor center at the top when you arrive from south (crater creek road) where you can buy souvenirs and enjoy a cup of coffee or just a sandwich.

    Do not miss the Rim Visitor Center (close to the visitor center) where you can see how the lake ended up like this and other geological informations.

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    Vidae Falls

    by Basaic Written Mar 2, 2010

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    The last place I stopped on the rim drive was Vidae Falls. Vidae Falls comes from a creek flowing over a glacier formed cliff then drops 100 feet (30 meters) over a series of ledges. If you come here in the summer, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of wildflowers growing by the falls.

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    The Pinnacles

    by Basaic Written Mar 2, 2010

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    Pinnacles
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    Pinnacles Overlook is located at the end of a 7 mile spur road, and is well worth the drive. The pinnacles are a collection of 100 foot (30 meter) tall spires eroded from the canyon walls. These are what is called “fossil fumaroles” and are where volcanic gas rose up through volcanic ash deposits fusing them solid. Many of these fumaroles are hollow inside. There is a trail leading along the cliffs giving various nice views of the pinnacle. The trail leads to the edge of the park and connects to a trail in the Winema National Forest.

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