Crater Lake National Park

History | Park Maps | Visitor Centers | Day Visits | Camping | Trails | Winter Activities 

 

Description

Crater Lake is widely known for its intense blue color and spectacular views. During summer, visitors may navigate the Rim Drive around the lake, enjoy boat tours on the lake surface, stay in the historic Crater Lake Lodge, camp at Mazama Village, or hike some of the park's various trails including Mt. Scott at 8,929 ft. Diverse interpretive programs enhance visitors' knowledge and appreciation of this national park, 90% of which is managed as wilderness. The winter brings some of the heaviest snowfall in the country, averaging 533 inches per year. Although park facilities mostly close for this snowy season, visitors may view the lake during fair weather, enjoy cross-country skiing, and participate in weekend snowshoe hikes.

 

Park Information

Hours/Seasons:  The park is always open, but many of the roads and facilities are closed during the winter.

Summer -- (June through September) Rim Village Visitor Center: late June through Labor Day, 9:30 AM - 5:30 PM, daily, early June and September, 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM.

Steel Visitor Center: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, daily.

Winter--(October through May) Rim contact Station (located in cafeteria building at Rim Village): 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM, daily.

Directions:  From the North: From Roseburg - route 138 east to the park's north entrance. From Bend - Route 97 south to route 138 west to the park's north entrance.

Fees:  $10 - 7 Days

Weather:  May and June can vary from warm, sunny days in the 60's to temperatures down into the 30's with several feet of snow and poor lake visibility.  July, August, and September have an average daytime high temperature around the 70's, but can range from the 40's through low 80's.  Winter usually begins in early to mid October and lasts until June.  Temperatures during the winter months range from an average high of 43F to an average low of 19F.

 

 
Park History

Local Native Americans witnessed the collapse of Mount Mazama and kept the event alive in their legends. One ancient legend of the Klamath people closely parallels the geologic story which emerges from today's scientific research. The legend tells of two Chiefs, Llao of the Below World and Skell of the Above World, pitted in a battle which ended up in the destruction of Llao's home, Mt. Mazama. The battle was witnessed in the eruption of Mt. Mazama and the creation of Crater Lake.


John Wesley Hillman

The Klamaths revered the lake and the surrounding area, keeping it undiscovered by white explorers until 1853. That year, on June 12, three gold prospectors, John Wesley Hillman, Henry Klippel, and Isaac Skeeters, came upon a long, sloping mountain. Upon reaching its highest point, a huge, awe-inspiring lake was visible. "This is the bluest lake we've ever seen," they reported, and named it Deep Blue Lake. But gold was more on the minds of settlers at the time and the discovery was soon forgotten.

Captain Clarence Dutton was the next man to make a discovery at Crater Lake. Dutton commanded a U.S. Geological Survey party which carried the Cleetwood, a half-ton survey boat, up the steep slopes of the mountain then lowered it to the lake. From the stern of the Cleetwood, a piece of pipe on the end of a spool of piano wire sounded the depth of the lake at 168 differnt points. Dutton's soundings of 1,996 feet were amazingly close to the sonar readings made in 1959 that established the lake's deepest point at 1,932 feet.

William Gladstone Steel devoted his life and fortune to the establishment and management of Crater Lake National Park. His preoccupation with the lake began in 1870. In his efforts to bring recognition to the park, he participated in lake surveys that provided scientific support. He named many of the lake's landmarks, including Wizard Island, Llao Rock, and Skell Head. Steel's dream was realized on May 22, 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill giving Crater Lake national park status. And because of Steel's involvement, Crater Lake Lodge was opened in 1915 and the Rim Drive was completed in 1918.

Crater Lake National Park is fast approaching its 100th birthday. The celebration of one of our nation's oldest parks is a testament to the courage and determination of William G. Steel and the countless others who have been involved in the preservation of this national treasure. In looking to the future appreciation and preservation of this park, knowledge of its history and origins are imperative in keeping with the tradition of Crater Lake's unique past.

 

Visitor Centers

Steel Information Center
The Steel Center at park headquarters is open every day from early April through late October, 9 AM to 5 PM. From November through March, it is open Friday through Sunday (except for Christmas day) from 10 AM to 4 PM. Self service information is available Monday through Thursday during the same hours. (During the winter months, National Park Service information is also available from 10 AM to 4 PM daily at the Rim Contact Station located inside the cafeteria building at Rim Village.) A park ranger is on duty to assist you with information, weather forecasts, backcountry camping permits, ski route advisories, and safety tips. A 20 minute film The Crater Lake Story describes the formation of Crater Lake through a story passed down by Native Americans of this area. It is shown throughout the day in the auditorium. For more information, the Steel Information Center may be contacted at (541) 594-2211 extension 402.  Books, maps, posters, postcards, and educational materials are available for purchase here from the Crater Lake Natural History Association. The Steel Center has public restrooms and is fully accessible. A post office is also located in this building.

Rim Village Visitor Center
This visitor center is located on the south rim of the caldera, approximately 200 yards west of the Crater Lake Lodge. It is open from early June through late September. General park information, backcountry camping permits, and educational sales items are available at this location.

Sinnott Memorial Overlook and Crater Lake Lodge
Both of these facilities have interpretive displays and exhibits which are open to the public in the summer.

 

Day Visits

Mazama Village
Shortly after passing through the Annie Spring Entrance Station you will encounter Mazama Village. Mazama Village is one of two areas in the park where services are provided. The only major campground in the park is located here (198-site Mazama Village Campground). Lodging is also available at the 40-unit Mazama Village Motor Inn. The Mazama Village Store has convenience store items, a coin-operated laundry and showers, firewood, and unleaded gasoline.

 

Munson Valley
The primary visitor service in this section of the park is the William G. Steel Information Center (open year-round). Information, backcountry permits, exhibits, maps and publication sales, an audio-visual program, and first aid can be obtained at the center. The other developments in Munson Valley are for park support personnel.

If you approach Munson Valley from the north (accessible only from late June to October), the easterly portion of the Rim Drive is a left-hand turn just past the Steel Information Center. Continuing straight ahead (south) takes you to Mazama and the Annie Spring Entrance Station. If you approach Munson Valley from the south, you encounter the junction with the Rim Drive. Proceeding north-west, you begin the clock-wise portion of the Rim Drive, and access to the Rim Village. Turning east takes you around Crater Lake in a counter-clockwise direction and is the quickest route to The Pinnacles section of the park.

A short distance (east) of this road junction on the Rim Drive is the delightful Castle Crest Wildflower Trail. While this is a short .4-mile loop trail, the tread is uneven and is not suitable for wheelchairs. When flowers are in bloom the profusion of colors is spectacular. The trail passes from forest, to wet meadows, crosses a tributary of Munson Creek, and finally passes a small dry slope exposing the visitor to a wide assortment of Northwest wildflowers.

 

Rim Village
The hub of development at Crater Lake National Park is concentrated in Rim Village. The historic Crater Lake Lodge (extensively remodeled in 1995 after a 6-year closure), Sinnott Memorial Overlook, Rim Village Visitor Center, and Gift Shop/Cafeteria are all located at Rim Village.

The views of Crater Lake from the Rim are certainly the highlight of Rim Village. A path follows along the Rim from Discovery Point to Crater Lake Lodge (2.6 miles round-trip). An extension of this trail proceeds from Crater Lake Lodge to the top of Garfield Peak (3.4 miles round-trip). Walking a portion of any of these trails affords the visitor views of Wizard Island, The Watchman, Hillman Peak, Mt. Thielsen (located outside of the park to the north), Cleetwood Cove (located at the base of the North Rim, nearly 6 miles distance), Mt. Scott, and Garfield Peak. A short walk to Sinnott Memorial, with a small museum and ranger-talks during the summer, gives a spectacular view 900 feet down to the lake's surface.

Winter lasts for eight months at Crater Lake National Park. At an elevation of 7,100 feet, snow lingers long into the "summer". While access to the Rim Village is open year-round, most of the facilities are buried under the 533 inches of snow Crater Lake receives each year (on average). The Rim Village Gift Store/Cafeteria are the only services open in winter. Ranger-led snowshoe walks are offered on weekends and holidays.

 

Rim Drive
The 33-mile Rim Drive encircles Crater Lake, with each mile giving a very different perspective of the lake, rim, and surrounding terrain. Open only during the summer from late June to mid-October, there are numerous overlooks, many with interpretive signs. The only access to the lake itself is via a steep trail to Cleetwood Cove, where boat tours of the lake are offered. Numerous picnic areas can be found along the Rim Drive, as well as hiking access to Garfield Peak (from Rim Village), Lightning Springs (west side), Cleetwood Cove (north side), Mount Scott (east side), Sun Notch Viewpoint and Crater Peak (south side). Both Kerr Notch and Sun Notch Viewpoints are particularly spectacular viewpoints, with views down to Phantom Rock and across the lake to Wizard Island. To protect the fragile meadows, please stay on the established trails!

 

The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles can be reached in the summer from the Rim Drive on a paved, 6-mile road. These eerie spires of eroded ash, rise from the edges of Sand and Wheeler Creeks in pinnacle-fashion. Once upon a time, the road continued east of the turn-out, to the former East Entrance of the park. A path now replaces the old road and follows the rim of Sand Creek (and more views of pinnacles) to where the entrance arch still stands.  Along the drive to The Pinnacles is the 16-site, tents only, Lost Creek Campground. An alternate route back to the Rim Drive, is to take the Grayback Road (one-way, westbound only).

 

 

 

 

Camping

There are two campgrounds inside the park:

Mazama Campground, operated by the park's concessionaire, contains 200 sites and is open from June through early October. Reservations are not taken, but generally there are plenty of sites available. The campground offers running water, fire rings, picnic tables, and flush toilets. Wheelchair sites are available. The fee for 1999 was $14.75 per tent/camper site or $15.75 per RV site. More than 2 adults per site - $3 per additional person.  Lost Creek Campground contains 16 sites for tent camping only. It is located in the southeast corner of the park on the spur road to the Pinnacles overlook. It is open from July through early October. Fees are $10 per site.
Please Note - Weather can impact the opening and closing dates of both campgrounds.
  

Camping within 40 miles of Crater Lake is available at the following sites:

Oregon State Parks (Campsite Information Center): (800) 452-5687

Winema National Forest
Headquarters office in Klamath Falls - (541) 883-6714
Chiloquin Ranger Station - (541) 783-2221

Rogue River National Forest
Headquarters office in Medford - (541) 776-3600
Prospect Ranger Station - (541) 560-3623

Umqua National Forest
Headquarters office in Roseburg - (541) 672-6601
Diamond Lake Ranger Station - (541) 498-2531

 

Trails

General Information
There are more than 90 miles of trails leading into the backcountry of Crater Lake National Park. These are usually snow-free from mid-July to early-October. Just over 90% of the park is managed as wilderness, though these areas have yet to be designated as such. A permit is required for all overnight trips. 

Be prepared for sudden and extreme weather changes. Be prepared for the unexpected and carry extra food and water. Always carry raingear. Pack-out or bury human waste more than 200 feet from water. Stay on trails. Dogs and other pets, bicycles, and motor vehicles are NOT allowed on any park trails. Remember, elevations range from 6,000-9,000 feet- take it easy and have fun!

 

Selected Hiking Trails

 

Trail Name Distance Difficulty Trail Highlights
Sun Notch Viewpoint .5 mile roundtrip Short stroll, allow 30 minutes Overlook of Crater Lake and Phantom Ship
Castle Crest Wildflower Garden .5 mile loop trail Short stroll, allow 30 minutes Display of wildflowers in August
Godfrey Glen 1 mile loop trail Gentle level hike, allow 45 minutes Overlook of Annie Creek Canyon
Watchman Peak 1.4 miles roundtrip Moderate climb, 500ft. rise, allow 1 hour Historic fire tower, overlook of Wizard Island
Annie Creek Canyon 1.7 mile loop Moderate climb, allow 1.5 hours Deep stream cut canyon
Garfield Peak 3.4 miles roundtrip Strenuous climb, 1,000ft. rise, allow 2 to 3 hours Panoramic views,
Mt. Scott 5 miles roundtrip Strenuous climb, 1,500ft. rise, allow 3 hours Highes peak in park, historic fire tower

Cleetwood Cove Trail
Visitors wishing to reach the lakeshore of Crater Lake will need to hike the Cleetwood Cove trail. Located on the north side of Crater Lake, it is the only safe and legal access to the lake. The trail is one mile in length (one-way) and drops 700 feet as you descend from the East Rim Drive trailhead to the lakeshore. On your return trip, this is comparable to climbing 65 flights of stairs! The Cleetwood Cove hiking trail is recommended only for those in good physical condition and should not be attempted by visitors with heart, breathing, or leg problems. It is not accessible for visitors with mobility impairments. Hikers are advised to wear closed-toe shoes and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent. Toilets are available at both the trailhead and the boat dock area, however are not available on Wizard Island. Due to the park's heavy snow conditions, the trail typically does not open until late June and closes in mid-October.

 

Winter Activities

Crater Lake National Park receives an average of 45 feet of snow annually. The only road open during the winter months is the southern entrance road up to Rim Village. During periods of heavy snowfall, the road to Rim Village may also be closed. The Steel Information Center is open daily except for Christmas, as is Rim Village where a cafeteria and gift shop are located. Ranger-led winter ecology walks are held every weekend.  Other popular winter activities include snowmobiling, snow shoeing and cross-country skiing,.

 

The following is a list of selected ski trails at the park:

  • Discovery Point and Wizard Island Overlook This is the most popular, and easiest ski trail in the park. It provides spectacular views of the lake. Flat and rolling terrain. Round-trip: 2 miles to Discovery Point; 5 miles to Wizard Island Overlook.
  • Mazama Village Loop This loop provides easy, flat skiing conditions for beginners. Located next to the entrance station near the Junction of Hwy 62 and the road to Crater Lake. Round-trip: 1 mile.
  • Hemlock LoopA rolling journey through ancient forest. Views of the Klamath Basin to the southeast. Moderate difficulty. Round-trip: 1 mile.
  • Sun Notch Trail A good alternative to skiing the rim, especially when the weather is poor. Once at Sun Notch, you can look down the 1,000 foot drop to the lake's surface and Phantom Ship. Extreme caution must be exercised near the rim, snow cornices may be present! During high avalanche conditions, use the marked avalanche bypass route. Moderate difficulty. Round-trip: 10 miles.
  • Raven Trail Steep descent through snow-covered hemlocks, including several sharp curves. Immediately upon leaving the woods, the trail crosses a potentially dangerous avalanche chute; caution is advised. Round-trip: 2 miles.
  • Dutton Creek Zig-zagging through the forest, this trail descends steeply in the first mile among dense hemlocks. It eventually meets the Pacific Crest Trail. A steep climb over a ridge brings you back out to the roadway, either at Hwy. 62 or at Annie Springs. One way: 9 miles.
  • Skiing around Crater Lake A complete trip around the lake takes 2-3 days, longer during storms. There are no shelters along the 33 mile route. This trip should only be attempted by experienced and properly equipped skiers.

 

 

For Additional Information Contact:

Crater Lake National Park
P.O. Box 7
Crater Lake, OR 97604
(541) 594-2211

 

For more information visit the National Park Service website