As a national park, Crater Lake is not very large. A drive
of 33 miles will take you around the rim. The only long
trail inside the park is the section of the Pacific Crest
Trail which runs 33 miles from north to south, west of
the lake. Three much shorter trails connect the Pacific
Crest Trail to the rim. However, the size of the park and
the lack of a tall mountain should not deter you from
visiting this remarkable place.
there is the beauty of the lake, an almost round body of
water which partially fills the caldera. It has extreme
clarity, caused by its great depth and the lack of an
outflow. While snowmelt and rainwater fill the lake to a
constant level, only evaporation removes water. It is an
isolated lake in perfect balance; a completely closed
Mazama came and went in a very short period of geological
time, less than half a million years. It took much more
time to build the volcano than for it to obliterate
itself, an event of extreme destruction which occurred
7,700 years ago, when ash from the volcano jetted more
than 30 miles into the atmosphere, landing as far away as
The top mile of the mountain folded into the
core, making the crater, which slowly filled with
rainwater and snow-melt. Since then, Mazama has been
quiet, with only minor volcanic action creating the small
cone of Wizard Island. What remains is a park area of
to Get There
Medford, on Interstate 5, take State Route 62 for 75
miles. After entering the park, the highway leads south
of the lake to the Annie Springs Entrance Station. The
park road then leads north to the park headquarters, Rim
Village and the Rim Drive.
the south, and Klamath Falls, take U.S. Highway 97 and
State Route 62 to the park and the Annie Springs Entrance
Station. The park boundary is 55 miles from Klamath
Falls. From the northwest (Interstate 5 at Roseburg) take
State Route 138 for 82 miles, to the park boundary. The
north park road is closed in winter.
P.O. Box 7, Crater Lake OR 97604.
The Rim Village Visitor Center is located on the rim,
overlooking the lake from the south shore. It is located
seven miles off State Route 62. The center is open daily
from early June to the end of September.
Center, located at the park headquarters, south of
Rim Village, is open daily throughout the year, except
entrance fee is charged during the summer season only,
when all facilities are open. However, the park remains
open year-round, via the south entrance.
naturalist activities are offered throughout the summer
season, with a 2-hour narrated boat tour of the lake,
including a stop at Wizard Island, where visitors may
hike to the top of the cone. The tour leaves every hour,
on the hour, from 9 am to 3 pm, from the landing at the
end of the Cleetwood Trail. Cross-country skiing and
snowshoeing are popular winter activities in the south
and lodging are available inside the park. Crater Lake
Lodge, a magnificent old hostelry, has been
completely rebuilt and re-opened in 1995. It has
comfortable rooms and dining facilities, open from early
June to mid-September. After having been closed for
almost a dozen years, the lodge was painstakingly
reconstructed in its original form, with modern
conveniences added. Mazama Village Motor Inn has
standard motel-style units adjacent to the Mazama
Campgrounds, on the Rim Drive, with a restaurant. It is
open from mid-May to early October.
nearest outside accommodations are available in Klamath
and Chiloquin. Food is also available at the park
Cafeteria, Deli and Fountain, located next to the Rim
Village Gift Shop.
are two campgrounds in the park. Mazama Campground is open from mid-June to mid-September, with sites for
tents, trailers and RVs. The campground, near Annie
Springs Entrance Station, has a store, showers, and
laundry. Lost Creek Campground, with sites for tents
only, is open from early July to late August. It is
accessed by a park road which leads south from Rim Drive,
past the campground, to the Pinnacles.
More information on lodges and campgrounds in the park are in the Where to Stay section, below
Lake is a summer place, and also a winter place. The two
seasons are very different from one another.
is short. The lake, the deepest in the nation, glows with
a translucent sheen, rimmed by rock with a few evergreen
trees clinging to the slope. The soft green forests and
flowery meadows are in sharp contrast to the rocky walls
of the crater and the bare rock formations which poke
above the rim. Wildflowers blanket the park meadows and
forest floor for most of the summer. They are some of the
600 species of plants which have colonized the region
since the volcano's ash covered the slopes for many miles
around. The forest is primarily mountain hemlock and
Shasta red fir, with stunted and twisted whitebark pine
at the rim. Down from the rim, a more temperate forest of
ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine is found.
provides a stark, white environment. A year's snowfall on
the rim can be as much as 50 feet, and because of the
moderate Oregon climate, the lake hardly ever freezes
over, using stored heat from its lower depths. The last
time the lake developed a thin sheet of ice was in 1949.
While snow falls in October and doesn't recede until May,
the south park road is kept open for visitors, who come
to look at the lake in this special time of year. Park
rangers open a gate, at 8 a.m. daily, and close it at
sunset. Snowmobilers can enter the park at the north
gate, and drive to a vista point overlooking the
road circles the lake, offering more than 25 viewpoints
overlooking the lake and geological formations. Heading
clockwise (west) from the Rim Village parking lot, the
road is often narrow and winds around sharp curves. The
first few miles provide fine views of nearby mountains,
including Hillman Peak, to the far left of the rim, one
of the remaining parts of Mt. Mazama, and the highest
point on the rim.
Island Overlook is at mile 4. There is a short trail
south, to a fire tower on "The Watchman." The Mt.
Theissen Overlook provides a fine view, away from the
crater, of other mountains and points of geological
interest. Passing the road to the north entrance, Rim
Drive continues, leading east to Steel Bay (mile
8.8), which commemorates William Gladstone Steel, who
contributed much energy and money to creating the
national park, in 1902. He was also a leader in efforts
to build Crater lake Lodge.
Trail, at mile 10.7, leads down the rim to the
landing for the park's boat tour.
is another view of the entire lake at Skell Head, at mile 14.8. Mt. Scott is the standout here. Another
volcanic cone, it's the highest point in the park.
There's a short spur road to Cloudcap, providing
the park's highest vista point, at 8,070 feet. Phantom
Ship, the unusual island with a fanciful name, is
located to the southwest. The vista point at Kerr
Notch (mile 23.2) provides another view of Phantom
Ship. Take the road to Pinnacles, leading south
from Rim Drive, past the tent campground. The Pinnacles
are spires of volcanic ash, eroded into tall, weird
Crest Wildflower Trail is found at mile 31.2. The
Godfrey Glen Trail provides another short walk, off the
connector road to the Annie Springs Entrance
Station. If you continue on Rim Drive, you'll shortly
arrive back at the Rim Village starting point.
Trail is found along Rim Drive, at mile 10.7, with a
steep, one-mile descent and a strenuous one-mile climb
back to the rim. The trail leads to the water's edge, to
the landing for the hourly boat tour which includes a
visit to Wizard Island.
Island Summit Trail offers a short climb, especially
valuable to those who want to climb a mountain without
spending too much time, or expending much effort. It
begins at the island dock and leads through the hemlock
and fir forest, rising to the subalpine wildflower level,
and then to superb lake and rim views from the top.
You'll find whitebark pines at the summit.
Creek Trail begins behind the amphitheater at Mazama
Campground, and leads along a loop that is less than two
miles long. It runs through wildflower meadows, to the
bottom of a canyon, and ascends to the trailhead.
The Mount Scott Trail is found at mile 17 along Rim
Drive. The one-way hike is 2.5 miles long, climbing to
the highest point in the park. The peak has an elevation
of 8,926 feet. It provides a view of the south shore of
the lake, and a vast panorama of most of southern Oregon.
On a clear day, Mount Shasta is in full view, across the
California border. You should also be able to see, near
the western edge of the park, an isolated bog of spaghnum
moss, which has its own closed ecosystem, including four
species of insect-eating plants: two sundews and two
bladderworts. You'll also see the headwaters of the Rogue
River, at Boundary Springs.
Peak Trail starts behind Crater Lake Lodge, and
climbs to the peak's summit, a climb of about 1,700 feet.
This summit also offers views of Mount Shasta and park
The Castle Crest Trail Wildflower Trail provides a
half-mile loop walk through a vividly colored meadow, and
leads up a nearby hillside. It begins with a short walk
through the fir and hemlock forest, and then enters the
meadows, which are ribbed with several streams, nurturing
the water-loving plants which include monkeyflower,
larkspur, violet, and corn lily. The hillside is dryer,
with another set of plants, including paintbrushes,
penstemon, phlox, and gilia.
hike the entire Crater Lake National Park section of the
trail, a 33-mile excursion of several days, you have to
start outside the park. At the north, the trail crosses
State Route 138 (the road from Bend and U.S. Highway 97),
at a point east of the North Entrance Station, on the
park boundary. From the south, it is necessary to link up
with the trail in the Winema National Forest. See the
Forest Service for precise instructions on how to drive
to the trail.
north to south, the trail enters the park and leads for
ten miles through a desert area, with thick pumice and
ash deposits. The trail crosses the north entrance road
about two miles from the lake, and heads east, past Red Cone, with an intersection with the
backcountry trail to Boundary Spring, the
headwaters of the Rogue River.
the junction, the Pacific Crest Trail heads south, over a
series of hills, and through several creek valleys,
linking with the Lightening Springs Trail, leading for
another five miles to meet the trail from Rim Village.
The main trail snakes southward to Annie Spring, crossing
State Route 62, and continuing south. A spur trail leads
west to Union Peak (el. 7,698).
main trail continues to meet two more spur trails: to
Bald Top (el. 7,698), and another at Pumice Flat, which
connects with the south entrance road. This connecting
trail is about three miles long. The park boundary with
the national forest is about 1.5 miles south of the
junction with the two spur trails.
are three park spur trails that connect Rim Drive with
the Pacific Crest Trail. The Annie Spring Cutoff
Trail (0.6 mile) leads from the Annie Spring entrance
station area. Dutton Creek Trail is a 2.4-mile
spur trail that leads from Rim Village.
Springs Trail (4 miles) leads from Rim Drive near The
Watchman. There are two park locations where roads cross
the Pacific Crest route. In the south part of the park,
the trail intersects State Route 62, west of the Annie
Spring Entrance Station. The north entrance road also
connects with the trail, north of the junction with Rim
Drive. From here, you can hike in a counter-clockwise
direction, coming out at Annie Springs, or using one of
the three spur trails to reach Rim Drive.
Where to Stay
In the Park:
Lake Lodge and Mazama Village Motor Inn
Reservations: 888-774-2728 - inside the U.S.
Reservations: 303-297-2757 - outside the U.S.
Lake Lodge, one of the finest of the old national
park hotels, has been completely rebuilt and re-opened in
1995. It features comfortable rooms and dining
facilities, open from early June to mid-September.
Village Motor Inn has standard motel-style units and
a restaurant, adjacent to the Mazama Campground, on Rim
Drive. This motel-style facility is open from mid-May to
Campground, the main camping facility in the park, is
open from mid-June to mid-September, with sites for
tents, trailers and RVs. The campground, near the Annie
Springs Entrance Station, has a store, showers, and
laundry. Phone the reservations numbers, above.
Creek Campground, with sites for tents only, is open
from early July to late August.
Lake Lodge, Diamond Lake Recreation Area
Diamond OR 97731, 855-866-1909
sizable resort has rooms, including some with
kitchenettes, in a scenic area located about five miles
from the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park, off
Highway 138 (from Roseburg). You can also get there by
taking Highway 230. To use this route, start in Medford
or Klamath Falls by taking State Route 62, then turning
north onto State Route 230. There is a restaurant on-site.
Crater Lake Resort, 50711 Highway 62, Fort Klamath,
This RV and tenting campground, located on fort creek, is 17 miles from the Crater Lake south entrance. Tent sites and R%V sites with full hookups. Amenities include hot showers and restrooms, free canoe use, free WiFi but no cable TV
Outside Crater Lake Park
U.S. Forest Service has campgrounds surrounding Crater
Lake National Park, in its national forests.
Bend and Union Creek Campgrounds are located
just off State Route 62, southwest of the park. Union
Creek is found near the junction of State Route 62 and
State Route 230. Farewell bend is located a few miles
south of Union Creek.
Public Campgeounds: A state park and a forest service campground are found just off U.S
97, southeast of the national park, just north of
State Park has a large campground, to the west of the
highway, with water, RV hookups, showers, dump station,
and hiking trails.
River Campground (Forest Service) is a small, more
basic operation, with drinking water and hiking trails in
the Klamath National Forest.
are three Forest Service campgrounds at Diamond Lake,
located about four miles due north of the park.
View Campground (the farthest north of the three
facilities) has drinking water, hiking trails and a boat
ramp. This is a small facility.
Lake Campground is a huge operation, also on the
lake, with upgraded services, including water, showers,
dump station, hiking trails, and boat ramp.
Arrow Campground, at the junction of State Routes 230
and 138, is another large campground, with water,
showers, dump station, trails, and boat ramp.