Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is a United States national park located in southern Oregon, in the United States. The centerpiece of the park is Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States, known for its deep blue color.


Crater Lake in the Cascade mountains.
  • Dogs and other pets are not allowed on park trails.
  • Smoking is not allowed on any trail.
  • Bicycling is permitted only on paved roads and the Grayback Drive.
  • Feeding wild animals, including birds, is prohibited. Feeding animals is dangerous for you, bad for them, and harmful for the ecosystem.
  • Stay on trails to protect vegetation and fragile hillsides. Shortcutting trails, particularly on switchbacks, can damage slopes, making them more susceptible to erosion and visual damage.
  • Be prepared; equip yourself with water, food, warm clothing, rain gear, and anything else appropriate to the trail you take. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
  • Leave all rocks, plants and artifacts undisturbed for the enjoyment of future visitors.
  • Do not drink water from park streams or from the lake without properly treating it.
  • Hunting is not permitted in Crater Lake National Park.


Crater Lake and Wizard Island from Watchman Lookout

Crater Lake was formed from the collapse of Mount Mazama, a volcano in southern Oregon that once stood about 11,000 feet (3,353 m) tall. A series of destructive eruptions around 5000 BC caused the mountain's peak to collapse into its lava chamber, resulting in a caldera nearly six miles (9.7 km) wide. Over time, snowmelt and rain collected in the crater to form the lake, which at 1,949 feet (594 m) deep, is presently the deepest in the USA, 2nd in North America, and 9th in the world. Based on a comparison of average depths, however, Crater Lake at 1148 feet (350 m), is the deepest in the Western Hemisphere and third deepest in the world.

The first known white man to reach the lake was prospector John Hillman, who found the lake in 1853. Largely through the efforts of naturalist William Gladstone Steel, the United States declared Crater Lake a national park in 1902.


Crater Lake Visitor Center before the snow melt


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 34 35 37 42 49 58 69 70 63 52 38 34
Nightly lows (°F) 18 18 19 23 28 33 41 41 36 30 22 18
Precipitation (in) 9.4 7.7 7.5 5.5 3.6 2.3 1.0 1.0 2.0 4.4 10.3 11.6

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Crater Lake's location high in the Cascade mountains (about 6,000 feet/1,830 m above sea level) means that snow is often visible year-round. The lake is often enveloped in heavy snow during the fall, winter, and spring, forcing the closure of roads and trails. In fact, the lake averages 533 inches (1,353 cm) of snow a year. Consequently, the best time to visit Crater Lake is in the summer months, when all facilities, roads, and trails are open.

Get in

By plane

The nearest major airport to Crater Lake National Park is Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport, located three miles (4.8 km) north of Medford and 80 miles (129 km) south of the park.

By car

From the north

The north entrance is typically closed for the winter season (mid-October to mid-June).

From the south

By foot

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a well known trail that extends along the West coast of the United States, from Mexico to Canada. It passes through California, Oregon, and Washington State.


The entry fee for cars is $10 for seven days. Motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians are $5.00 per person for seven days.

There are several passes that allow free entry for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes are valid at all national parks including Crater Lake National Park:

In 2016 the National Park Service will offer several days on which entry is free for all national parks: January 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 16-24 (National Park Week), August 25-28 (National Park Service's 100th birthday weekend), September 24 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).

Get around

Map of Crater Lake National Park

The 33-mile (53 km) Rim Drive encircles Crater Lake, giving varied perspectives of the lake, rim, and surrounding terrain. Open only during the summer from late June to mid-October, there are many overlooks with interpretive signs. The only access to the lake itself is by steep trail to Cleetwood Cove, where boat tours of the lake are offered. Numerous picnic areas are along the Rim Drive, as is hiking access from Rim Village to Garfield Peak. Rim Drive also accesses 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.

There are many trails open to horses. But, if you're not a cowboy then hiking the trails is also a great experience. While on the trails keep an eye open for the many deer grazing in the hills.



The lake partly fills a nearly 4,000 feet (1,220 m) deep caldera.


While exploring keep an eye out for the gift shop that has many interesting souvenirs from paintings to postcards. You could even take home a custom carved wood sign.



Be aware that the waters there contain a lot of minerals and it is advised that you bring your own water with you while hiking the trails.



Park service facilities


The National Park Service runs two campgrounds:

Go next

Routes through Crater Lake National Park

Medford Jct E  W  E  Jct N S END
Jct W Roseburg  W  E  Jct N S END

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, March 13, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.