Crater Lake National Park Travel Guide

  • Wizard island
    Wizard island
    by Jim_Eliason
  • Rim Drive
    Rim Drive
    by Jim_Eliason
  • south side of the crater
    south side of the crater
    by travelchica7

Crater Lake National Park Things to Do

  • Crater Lake Boat Tour

    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...

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  • Wizard Island

    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...

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  • Cleetwood Cove Trail

    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...

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  • Vidae Falls

    just off the road on the Rim drive, this falls is not much to look at in the dry season but can swell when rain hits or during the snowmelt season

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  • Cleetwood Trail

    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

    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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Crater Lake National Park Hotels

Crater Lake National Park Restaurants

  • Buffet in the Park

    Right after the turnoff from Oregon Highway 62 for Crater Lake National Park you will find Mazama Village. Mazama Village has 40 rooms at The Cabins at Mazama Village; a restaurant and a store. The Annie Creek Restaurant serves a buffet consisting of different entrees, pizza, soups, salads and deserts. You can also order a la carte and get pizza to...

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  • Picnic at the lake

    We arrived at Crater Lake in the early afternoon after a long day of driving. After stopping at the lodge and restrooms at the south side of the lake, we drove around the west side of the rim looking for a good picnic spot. We found a parking area overlooking Wizard Island, then packed a lunch of tuna fish, beer, coke, beans, and granola bars then...

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  • Fine Dining with a Lake View

    The Dining Room at Crater Lake Lodge utilizes locally produced ingredients of the best quality and freshness. You'd be hard pressed to find better food at any of the other National Parks. Food is thoughtfully prepared and pleasantly presented. The Northwest Clam Chowder was incredibly flavorful with bits of apple bacon and chunks of not only clams...

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Crater Lake National Park Nightlife

  • lucythedog's Profile Photo

    by lucythedog Updated Aug 10, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I was all ready for a great night's sleep when my owners cranked up the rig and drove back up to Crater lake at midnight. The moon off the lake was awesome but there were no squirrels...but lots to pay attention to...i am in charge of security you know

    Full Moon to howl at
    Related to:
    • Travel with Pets
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Hiking and Walking

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Crater Lake National Park Transportation

  • well worth the detour

    This would be a tough place to visit without a car and there are no shuttles in the park itself. It is a premier biking park but the average visitor will be coming in a car. Crater Lake is located 250 miles and 5.5 hours southeast of Portland, Oregon. It's about 4 hours from the Oregon Coast. If you are just passing through Oregon on I-5, it's...

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  • Only cars

    Car- is the only convinient way to move around there. Bicycle is a possible way... but I am not that strong.Also when I was there the wather changed several time during the day, so comfortable car - not convertable - would help.

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  • Tour Boats

    Since 1921 boat tours have been running around the lake. Several different makes and models have been used but in every case the scenery has been spectacular. The boats depart from the bottom of the Cleetwood Cove Trail. it is a 1.1 mile hike that you will have to make both before and after your tour. Many complain it is too steep but it is not all...

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Crater Lake National Park Local Customs

  • a bit of Crater Lake history

    Crater Lake takes it origin in a massive eruption of 12,000 foot Mount Mazama some 7700 years ago. Part of the cascade range of volcanoes that includes more recent erupted Mount St. Helens, Mazama was sacred to Native Americans called Klamaths. The remnants of the huge peak fell inward and formed a massive caldera which over the course of time...

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  • a recipe for alpine splendor

    Crater Lake is undoubtedly deep, averaging 1500 feet which is the deepest average in the Western Hemisphere. It's top depth of nearly 2000 feet makes it the deepest in the United States and depending on who is doing the ranking, as high as the seventh deepest in the world. But what really sets it apart is its clarity. The lake is filled solely with...

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  • Forest Fires Burn

    National parks in their attempt to be as natural as possible allow wild fires to burn if they were started by natural means. Lightening strikes start a lot of naturally occurring wildfires in National Parks.As lightening constitutes a natural means for starting a fire in nature they allow these fires to burn as long as they don’t endanger human...

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Crater Lake National Park Warnings and Dangers

  • CONIFER POLLEN

    The waters of Crater Lake are some of the clearest in the World. There are very few impurities within its waters - also no outlets and the water is from snow and rain. Deep blue colors are due to the Lake's depth. Of the visual spectrum, only the deep blue wavelengths are scattered back to the surface; all other wavelengths are absorbed in the...

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  • Warning Signs

    Please obey all warning signs; they are there for your safety and to protect the park for future visitors. Stay away from the cliffs they sometimes give way.

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  • a place for big snows

    Crater Lake National Park gets more than its share of snow. The Pacific Northwest is noted for precipitation and the lake's elevation and relative location to northwesterly winds makes for lots of it. The average snowfall is 44 feet per year so it's no wonder that the Rim Road is not open in winter. At this elevation, snow can linger well into...

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Crater Lake National Park Tourist Traps

  • carmenlilly's Profile Photo

    by carmenlilly Written Nov 14, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There's only one proper restaurant at Crater Lake, which is the Crater Lake Lodge. Without reservations you have no chance to get a table + it's more exquisite than just a regular visitor's restaurant. On the other hand it certainly is comfy and ncie inside, but also expensive!!!

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Crater Lake National Park What to Pack

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    by richiecdisc Updated Oct 16, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Luggage and bags: While the Pacific Crest Trail runs through the park and you could use a backpack if doing that, a small day pack will suffice for the relatively short trails around the lake.

    Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Good hiking boots should be worn even on short trails as they tend to be steep and rocky. Trails tend to be short so you generally can get away without carrying extra clothing but if tackling longer hikes, bring something warm and rain resistant for changeable weather.

    Photo Equipment: Crater Lake is a place you'll be glad you have the widest angle lens you can afford.

    Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: A tent, sleeping bags and mats will cut your costs by making camping an option if staying at the lake. Budget options are otherwise limited.

    Miscellaneous: I found this wide-brimmed hat while camping with my cousin a week earlier on the California coast. I wish I had it during the desert portion of our trip but i did get to use it here in Crater Lake, where it was sunny, sunny, sunny! :)

    so, where is my dingo anyway?
    Related to:
    • Camping
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Photography

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Crater Lake National Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Lava Beds National monument

    The Lava Beds National monument (page to come) lies in the far north east corner of California, close to the Oregon border. It is a striking example of eruptions where the outer lava cools and gives a solid crust while the inner lava remains fluid enough to flow out, giving empty tubes that can be visited. It is not far from Crater Lake and can be...

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  • Wizard Island Summit Trail

    When the boat drops you off on the island you have 2 hours to explore. The hike to the top of the island is only 1 mile and gains 756 feet (230 m) of elevation. You will be greeted with excellent views throughout your hike (about 1 mile). At the top you will be greeted with a very one of a kind scene. You will be on the rim of a 90 ft (27 m) deep...

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  • Wonder Around The Island or Go Fishing

    After the boat drops you off on the Island you have 2 hours to explore. The hike to the top of the Island is about 1 mile long and gains 756 feet (230 m) of elevation in the process. Average time for the hike with return is 1 hour.While on the Island you are afforded other recreational activities as well. Fishing, swimming and scuba diving are also...

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Crater Lake National Park Sports & Outdoors

  • Cycling

    If you can bring your bike, Crater Lake offers some challenging cycling. The Rim Drive is 33 miles long with many hills to tackle not to mention having to deal with heavy traffic during the summer. At least they are likely to not be going too too fast. Even during the winter one can ride from the Rim Village down to the Steel Visitor's Center and...

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  • Plenty of hiking

    There are more than 90 miles of hiking trails in Crater lake. The best time to try them is starting in August as there is too much snow left until then.Some famous trails:1) Garfield Peak: 1.7 miles, lead to the 8054 foot peak2) Mt Scott: 5 miles, highest point in the Lake3) Watchman: easy 0.7 miles4) Castle Crest Wildflower Garden: easy 1 mile5)...

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  • Crater Lake National Park Hotels

    1 Hotels in Crater Lake National Park

    4 Reviews

Crater Lake National Park Favorites

  • Phantom Ship Island

    Crater Lake’s “other island” is also very interesting. Phantom Ship Island got its name from the resemblance to a pirate ship. The island is much smaller than Wizard Island but is still as tall as a 16 story building. The island is composed of erosion-resistant rock that is 400,000 years old making it the oldest exposed rock in the caldera.

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  • Wizard Island

    Wizard Island was formed during a second eruption some 400 years after the one that formed Crater Lake. It is a cinder cone volcano named after its resemblance to a wizards hat. There are numerous places along the rim drive to see the island but one of the best is Watchman Overlook. There are also boat tours that take you by the island and 96...

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  • Crater Lake National Park

    You pretty much cannot go wrong when going to a national park. If a place attains that status it is beautiful or interesting or both. Crater Lake certainly qualifies on both accounts. Crater Lake was formed about 7700 years ago when a 12,000 foot (3600 meter) volcano collapsed during a major eruption, believed to be the largest eruption in North...

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Explore Deeper into Crater Lake National Park
Rim Drive
Things to Do
Chaski Slide
Things to Do
Devil's Backbone
Things to Do
Steel Visitor's Center
Things to Do
RIM VILLAGE
Things to Do
WIZARD ISLAND
Things to Do
The Rim Road
Things to Do
Take a boat ride on the Lake
Things to Do
Natural wonder, no less
Things to Do
Meet the People
Things to Do
Vidae Falls
Things to Do
The Pinnacles
Things to Do
Phantom Ship Overlook
Things to Do
Pumice Castle Overlook
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Cloudcap Overlook
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North Junction Pullout
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Watchman Overlook
Things to Do
Discovery Point
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Discovery Point Trail
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Rim Village Cafe and Gift Shop
Things to Do
Sinnott Memorial Overlook
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Rim Village Visitors Center
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The Steel Visitors Center
Things to Do
Stop at the Mazama Village Store
Things to Do
it was total, it was pure
Favorites
it just wasn't perfect
Favorites
it's that damn pretty
Favorites
Cleetwood Trail to Crater Lake's shore
Things to Do
many hiking opportunites
Things to Do
Volcanic Lake Tours
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The Rim Drive
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Clark's Nutcracker
Favorites
Chipmunks
Favorites
East Rim
Things to Do
North rim
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South rim from Merriam point
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Merriam point lookout
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Cleetwood Cove Trail
Things to Do
Wizard Island
Things to Do
Phantom Ship
Things to Do
Map of Crater Lake National Park

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