Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the country, lies 106 miles east of Roseburg, just across the Douglas County line, in Klamath County. Oregon’s one and only national park can be reached by driving east from Roseburg on Highway 138.
The park was established in 1902 as what was then described as a “pleasure ground for the benefit of the people of the United States.” It includes 249 square miles dedicated to the preservation of natural resources.
In addition to the lake and its deep, blue waters, the park is home to pristine rivers and forest land.
Long revered and considered sacred by the Klamath tribe, the lake was not seen by white men until 1853, when gold prospectors stumbled upon it.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, newspaperman Jim Sutton gave the lake its current name in 1869.
What to see and do at Crater Lake
Two visitors centers offer information about park attractions and programs. New this year at the park is an informational video, “Crater Lake: Into the Deep,” which will replace an edited segment from a PBS documentary as the orientation video for park guests. This year the park will unveil new informational signs around the rim trail.
The Steel Information Center, four miles north of Highway 62, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, except on Christmas Day, from November to early April; summer hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 541-594-3100.
The Rim Village Visitors Center, seven miles north of Highway 62, is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily from late May to late September. This center is closed October to May.
Park information is available online at nps.gov/crla.
The park has more than 90 miles of trails for hikers, skiers and showshoers. Trails are generally snow-free from mid-July through October.
Hiking opportunities range from the gentle, sloping one-mile Godfrey Glen trail — one of two wheelchair-accessible trails — to the rigorous five-mile round trip up Mount Scott, the highest point in the park, to 33 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.
There’s only one way to get to the surface of the lake: The strenuous 1.1-mile Cleetwood Trail on the northwest corner of the rim. It takes three hours to get down to the lake and back, and the trail drops nearly 700 feet in one mile.
From the bottom of the trail, boat rides are available around the lake, usually at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. from early July to mid-September. Tours leave at 9:55 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily to drop people off on Wizard Island for three hours, and pick them up to tour the lake.
Visitors may fish at the lake, which was first stocked decades ago. Kokanee salmon and rainbow trout have taken to the lake and reproduced. No license is required, there is no limit and there is no season.
Private boats are not allowed on the lake. Fishing must be done from the shore, from either the Cleetwood Cove docks or Wizard Island.
Bike rentals are not available at the park, but the 33-mile Rim Drive is popular with cyclists. The drive circles the crater and offers spectacular scenic vantage points.
Usually from the end of October to late May the park may only be accessed from the west or south entrance off Highway 62. But sometime in early June, the north entrance opens off Highway 138. The full rim drive normally opens in early July.
Park admission is $10 per car or $5 by bicycle. Annual passes are available for $20. Passes available for all national parks cost $80.
The park is free during the winter, providing recreational opportunities for showshoers, cross-country skiers and snowboarders.
During the winter, rangers lead free nature tours on showshoes to explain how animals, trees and humans adapt to the chilly climate. Showshoes are provided.
The tours are 12:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Space on each is limited; the minimum age is 8. To reserve call the Steel Visitor Center.
There are many marked and unmarked cross-country ski trails available to skiers all levels. There are no rental facilities at the park.
Where to stay and dine around Crater Lake
Crater Lake Lodge, a classic Swiss-style Alpine inn, sits just off the south rim. The lodge is open from late May to mid-October. The lodge offers gourmet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the season. Reservations are required for dinners, which are first reserved for overnight guests.
The nearby Rim Village and Gift Shop serves lighter meals. It is open daily year-round and generally from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the summer.
Forty rooms are available at the Mazama Village Motor Inn, seven miles south of the rim, for about $138 per night from May through September.
Call 541-830-8700 for lodging reservations or visit craterlakelodges.com.
For those on a more limited budget, camping is available at the Mazama Village Campground during the summer a the rate of $21 for tents and $27 for RVs. Weather permitting, the campground will be open this year from mid-June through mid-September or early October.
Flush toilets and coin-operated showers and laundry are available, along with a general store, at Mazama Village.
Primitive tent-only camping is on the road to the Pinnacles at Lost Creek for $10. The Pinnacles, an often-overlooked aspect of Crater Lake National Park, are basalt obelisks that rise from the grassy abyss.
Backcountry camping is also available with a permit.
The Annie Creek Restaurant and gift shop will be open during the summer season in Mazama Village. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and features an Italian-style buffet, along with entrees, deserts, beer and wine. Gas is available from the Mazama Camper Store.
There is a post office is at the Steel Information Visitor’s Center, three miles south of the rim. Summer hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Winter hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.