Crater Lake National Park - Oregon

• Crater Lake National Park is Oregon's only national park
• Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States

PhotographingHiking OregonFishing

Crater Lake National Park is a must-visit Oregon destination and the state's only national park. It encompasses over 50,000 acres of pristine old-growth forest with a unique Crater Lake as a crown jewel of the park.
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, with its astonishing depth of 1,943 feet. It also ranks as the 7th deepest lake in the world.

The lake is celebrated as 1 of the 7 Wonders of Oregon for its scenic appeal, geological origin, and cultural significance. In fact, Crater Lake is so significant that Oregonians can proudly display a "Crater Lake" license plate as a tribute to this natural treasure.

However, the allure of Crater Lake extends beyond just its scenic views because you can explore the lake and its surroundings in many ways. Take a boat tour, hike a network of trails, cruise around the Rim Drive, or catch a rainbow trout!

Crater Lake Creation

The powerful eruptions of Mount Mazama created Crater Lake eight thousand years ago. The volcano's eruption emptied the magma chamber, collapsing the volcano's top, thus forming the caldera. Flowing lava sealed the caldera's bottom.

Water from springs, snow, and rainfall filled the six-mile-wide caldera, creating the lake. Interestingly, no rivers flow in or out of the lake, so the water here is 100% rain and snow melt.

Crater Lake - Aerial View
Aerial View

Crater Lake Discovery

John Hillman, Henry Klippel, and Isaac Skeeters stumbled upon Crater Lake on June 12, 1853, while on an expedition for the mythical "Lost Cabin" gold mine. Struck by the water color, Hillman declared it the bluest lake he had ever witnessed, prompting Skeeters to name it Deep Blue Lake.

This breathtaking discovery ultimately gained national recognition when President Roosevelt designated the Crater Lake area as America's sixth national park in 1902.

Crater Lake In Native American Tradition

The Klamath Tribe oral tradition recounts their ancestors witnessing the catastrophic collapse of Mount Mazama.

Native lore speaks of a fierce battle between Skell, the sky god, and Llao, the God of the underworld. Llao was defeated, but Mount Mazama collapsed in the battle, creating the lake.

Crater Lake was so significant that the Klamath people went there for vision quests, climbing the caldera walls, and performing other challenging tasks as a rite of passage.

Crater Lake National Park - Oregon

When To Visit Crater Lake?

Crater Lake is open year-round, except during snowfall, with the north entrance closed from October through June. There are two visitor centers (Steel Visitor Center and Rim Visitor Center) with souvenir stores, historic Crater Lake Lodge, two restaurants, and one convenience store.

The Rim Drive Points

Rim Drive is a 33-mile (53-km) loop route around Crater Lake with almost 30 pullouts along the road.

Phantom Ship, near the southern shore, is a remnant of a lava flow that rises 160 feet above the lake.

Llao Rock, named after the fallen underworld God, is a lava formation rising 1850 feet above the lake.

Wizard Island is a cinder cone island 760 feet above the lake's surface. You can book a boating tour with a hike to explore it.

The Pinnacles are needle-like 100 feet (30 m) fossil fumaroles rising from the canyon wall at the Sand Creek Canyon.

Pumice Castle is the orange pumice rock formation resembling a medieval castle 1.1 miles west of the Cloudcap Overlook.

Vidae Falls is a cascading waterfall you can see between Phantom Ship Overlook and Park Headquarters. It drops 100 feet over a series of ledges, reaching a rocky slope and running to the south of Mt. Mazama.


Crater Lake National Park - Vidae Falls Oregon
Vidae Falls

Crater Lake National Park - Things to Do


The lake never gets warm because of its high 6,178 ft (1,883 m) altitude. Water in the lake varies from cold to chill, depending on the season, but it doesn't prevent some enthusiasts from enjoying a refreshing dip. Cleetwood Cove is the only authorized swimming spot at the lake.

Kayaking and Canoeing

Kayaking and canoeing is a fantastic way to explore the lake. Caldera is very steep and might be nearly vertical at some places, so you must use a designated Canoe Trail to get to the water.


No private boats are allowed at Crater Lake. Because of the steepness of the caldera, lowering the boat to the lake is very hard and outright dangerous. Rockfalls are common here, adding even more hazard.


Crater Lake is home to kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. It is unknown if native fish ever lived in those waters, but several non-native fish species were introduced. And two of those managed to survive very well here. Please always check current fishing regulations.


Crater Lake National Park - Oregon


There are 90 miles of trails, including mountain trails that lead to the summits of the high points:
Mount Scott - 8,929 feet;
Hillman Peak - 8,151 feet;
Garfield Peak - 8,060 feet;
Cloudcap - 1774 feet.

Some of those trails are challenging, but the park has easier trails, too—for example, the 1/2-mile Castle Crest Wildflower Garden trail.

Nature Viewing

The park has 570 plants and trees, including hemlock, pine, and fir. Also, 200 birds and large mammals, such as black bears, elk, and deer, live here too. This is a fantastic place to enjoy nature viewing and bird watching.

Boat Tours

You can sign up for a boat tour around the lake and even visit and explore Wizard Island. You can get a ride straight to the island or cruise the entire lake. The lake boat tours are available from July to September.

Crater Lake Events

The Annual Crater Lake Rim Runs And Marathon is held in the second week of August.

Crater Lake Ride the Rim and Crater Lake Ride the Rim 2 occur annually in September. During this event, East Rim Drive will be closed to motor vehicles and open only to bicycles and foot traffic.

Crater Lake National Park: Camping, Lodging & Vacation Rentals

There are two lodging options within the park boundaries, Crater Lake Lodge and The Cabins at Mazama Village. Reservations should be made months in advance on the Crater Lake website.

Other affordable accommodation options are found in the hotels or guest houses a few miles away.

Lodging at the Crater Lake National Park

Affordable vacation rentals for short and long term stay at the Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park | Facts

Open: Seasonal closures due to snow and icy conditions
Managed by: National Park Service

Amenities & Services: Information centers, gift shop, store, restaurant, picnic tables, and hiking trails
Activities: Hiking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, biking, fishing, scenic viewpoints, boat tours

Day-use fees: Yes; National Park Pass; Senior or Military Passes
Dogs: Yes

Crater Lake National Park is located:

  • 88 miles northeast of Ashland
  • 178 miles southeast of Eugene
  • 239 miles southeast of Salem.

Adventures Nearby

Directions to Crater Lake National Park

From i-5 Exit 188 in Eugene,

  • Follow OR-58 for 87 miles to US-97
  • Continue on US-97 South for 52.3 miles to OR-422
  • Turn right onto OR-422, and then after 3 miles, turn right onto OR-62
  • Continue northwest on OR-62 to Munson Valley Road for 24.5 miles
  • Turn right to Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway/Rim Drive and follow it for 4 miles.

I-5 Exit 138 in Roseburg is also a good option if you live north of the city.

If you are coming from the southern portion of I-5 (Ashland, Medford, or California), take Exit 14 in Ashland onto Route 66 (then Route 140 and Route 62) or Exit 30 in Medford onto Route 62.

Phone: 541-594-3000

Steel Visitor Center

Rim Visitor Center

You May Also Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.