Crater Lake National Park Entrance Sign

Where is Crater Lake National Park

Well known for the caldera of crystal-clear water it contains, Crater Lake National Park resides in southern Oregon. The park is a popular outdoor recreation area among hikers, vacationists, and thru hikers looking to complete the Pacific Crest Trail. Activities commonly practiced in the national park include hiking, fishing, camping, sightseeing, and wildlife viewing. Crater Lake National Park is located 127 miles or about a two-hour drive southeast of Eugene, Oregon.  It is also about 90 miles or an hour and a half drive south of Bend, Oregon. The closest city to the park is Klamath Falls. Visitors arriving at Crater Lake National Park will also find themselves in relatively close proximity to a variety of other outdoor recreation areas including Lassen Volcanic National Park and Redwoods State and National Parks.

How Large is Crater Lake National Park

Covering over 183, 224 acres, Crater Lake US National Park contains an impressive list of ecosystems. The park is mostly centered around Crater Lake. However, it also contains a number of acres of old growth forests. Crater Lake itself possesses a variety of impressive stats. The lake is over 1,940 feet deep at its deepest point, which makes the lake the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world. This depth is mostly attributed to the lake’s formation as a symmetrical caldera. The highest point within Crater Lake National Park is the summit of Mount Scott. The mountain reaches an elevation of 8,934 feet at its peak.

Hiker on Wizard Island Overlooking Crater Lake During Sunset in Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park Weather

Crater Lake National Park experienced relatively cool temperatures throughout the entire year. However, for several days in the summer Crater Lake National Park may experience temperatures that approach 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Average temperatures for the park during summer fluctuate between 50- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit, whereas in the winter temperatures average between 20- and 40-degrees. Snowfall is common and extremely heavy throughout every season of the year except for summer in Crater Lake National Park. This snowfall naturally refills the water levels of Crater Lake and averages a yearly accumulation of over 400 inches.

When did Crater Lake Become a National Park

Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in the state of Oregon. The national park is also one of the oldest national parks’ in the United States. Crater Lake National Park was formed on May 22, 1902 and was the fifth national park to be established. Years ago, the eruption of Mount Mazama caused the caldera and subsequently Crater Lake to form. Before European influence, several Pacific Northwest Native American tribes called the area home. Their cultures were directly tied to the geography and ecology of the land. Important stories in their cultures reference the eruption of Mount Mazama and several other historic events that have happened throughout the area now protected as Crater Lake National Park.

Boats Alongside Dock in Crater Lake of Crater Lake National Park

Things to do in Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park provides visitors the opportunity to experience a variety of outdoor experience and participate in a variety of activities. A trip to Crater Lake National Park is enjoyable for the whole family.  Our National Park Visitors Guide outlines the adventures and experiences below, which are some of the most popular ones found in the park. 

Take the Rim Drive

The Rim Drive is the most popular drive in Crater Lake National Park. The road takes visitors on a scenic path around the rim of the park’s caldera. Several viewpoints, including Watchman Overlook, Phantom Ship Overlook, and Cloudcap Overlook, located along the rim drive will give visitors the opportunity to view and take a few photographs of Crater Lake. Visitors looking to travel the entire rim trail should allow themselves a few hours to experience all of the road’s overlooks.

Walk Down to Crater Lake

The only trail that provides visitors with access to the shore of Crater Lake is the Cleetwood Cove Trail. Visitors looking to access the trail can do so from the Rim Drive road. Adjacent to the trailhead is a large parking lot where hikers can park before heading down to the lake. However, parking in this lot fills up incredibly quickly during peak season in the park. The hike down and back up from Crater Lake involves 2.2 miles of strenuous climbing. Visitors who have breathing problems or trouble hiking long distances should not attempt the trail.

Cast a Line in the Caldera

Visitors who do make the descent down to the edge of Crater Lake will be treated with clear blue water and the opportunity to fish and swim. During most of the year, the temperatures of crater lake are too cold for most visitors to find enjoyable. However, in the summer swimming along the lake’s shore is common. Visitors may also fish for several species of fish that are stocked in Crater Lake. The lake contains no native fish, and visitors may fish in the lake without a state fishing license.

The Phantom Ship on the Blue in Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Take Boat Tours of the Lake

The Cleetwood Cove Trail will also take visitors down to the boating dock where all boat tours offered in the park meet. These boat tours will offer visitors unprecedented views of the lake and the opportunity to explore Wizard Island. The island is located on the west side of the lake and only accessible by boat tour.

Hike Other Trails in the Park

Aside from the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which provides all access to Crater Lake, the national park also contains a variety of other impressive and unique hiking trails. Other popular trails found at Crater Lake National Park include Garfield Peak, Mount Scott, Pinnacles, Stuart Falls, and the Union Peak trail. The Mount Scott trail is a strenuous five-mile round trip trail that is accessible from the Rim Drive and takes visitors to the summit of Mount Scott.

Camping in Crater Lake National Park

The campground at the Mazama Village area in Crater Lake National Park is extremely popular and reaches capacity throughout the summer season. Visitors looking to obtain one of the campsites found in the campground should make reservations online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors arriving at the park hoping to find a walk-in camping will most likely want to check out the Lost Creek Campground. The campground is further isolated within the national park but also contains a number of sights suited for tent campers.

Wildlife Found in Crater Lake National Park

The wildlife of Crater Lake National Park is incredibly diverse. The park provides a home to mammals such as Canadian lynxes. Bobcats, beavers, chipmunks, foxes, squirrels, porcupines, pronghorn, black bears, coyotes, elk, and mule deer. A variety of avian species also reside and migrate to Crater Lake National Park.

Danger Sign Along Snowy Slopes Looking Out Over Lake in Crater Lake National Park

When to Visit Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is best visited during the summer. Deep snow is probable in the park during most months of the year except for June, July, and August. Visitors looking to experience the park’s hiking trails or swim in Crater Lake will assuredly want to visit during the summer. Campers visiting Crater Lake National Park during the summer will want to make their reservations several months in advance.

Must Have Items to Bring to Crater Lake National Park

Visitors planning their trip to Crater Lake National Park will want to keep several items in mind. List of Parks highlights the items below as they range from being completely essential to overly useful, and will provide comfort, protection, and enjoyment. 


Water is essential for outdoor recreation. Visitors planning to grab a campsite in the Lost Creek campground will want to bring additional quantities of water as the campground contains no running water throughout most of the year.


Visitors camping in the park should also look to pack a variety of meals. Crater Lake National Park does maintain a camp store and the Annie Spring Restaurant in Mazama Village. However, visitors should still at the very least bring a variety of high energy snacks they can consume while hiking. The best snacks to take hiking are lightweight, easy to consume, and full of energy.

Digital Camera

A digital camera will allow visitors of Crater Lake National Park to create long lasting memories they can look back on for years to come. Several stops along the Rim Drive including the Watchman and Phantom Ship Overlooks will provide visitors with additional opportunities to document their trip and the beauty of Crater Lake National Park.

Rocking Chairs and Tables Overlooking Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park

Camping Supplies

The easiest way to manage all of the camping equipment necessary for a trip to Crater Lake National Park is through the use of a camping checklist. This checklist can be used to pack equipment and once again to account for it in your vehicle before heading to the park.

Fishing Equipment

Anglers visiting Crater Lake National Park will not need to obtain a Oregon fishing license. The park also does not enforce any catch limits on the species found in the lake as all of the fish are nonnative and experience very little fishing pressure.

Layers of Clothing

Temperatures in Crater Lake National Park can drop drastically even during the summer. Visitors planning to recreate a lot in the park or camp overnight will want to bring a variety of clothing layers with them to the park. Visitors camping in the park will also want to bring a warm sleeping bag or a series of warm blankets to shield them from nightly temperatures that are common in the park.

Park Maps

Visitors can obtain a Crater Lake National Park map from the park’s entrance station or one of the park’s visitor centers. Individuals looking to obtain a map before heading to the park can download a digital copy online through the park’s website.

Woman Hiker Resting in Hammock Looking Out Over Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

Where to Stay in Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park manages two campgrounds and the Crater Lake Lodge. Visitors looking to stay in the park will want to make reservations for a campsite or room online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors wishing to obtain a walk-in sight at the Lost Creek campground should arrive at the park early in the day to ensure availability. The closest lodging out of the national park is located in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Food Near Crater Lake National Park

Inside of Crater Lake National Park visitors have several options to obtain a meal or tasty snacks. The Crater Lake Lodge and Annie Creek Restaurant offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy a tasty and filling meal. The camp store at Mazama Village is also stocked with a variety of snacks and other supplies campers and visitors will want to take advantage off during their stay. The village also contains a gas station, showers, and laundry room. The village is very popular among thru hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Birds Eye View of Snow Covered Evergreen Trees During Winter in Crater Lake National Park

Closest Airport to Crater Lake National Park

The closest airport to Crater Lake National Park is located two and a half hours away in Eugene, Oregon. The Eugene Airport is a regional airport that provides connecting flights to a variety of international airports. The closest international airports to Crater Lake National Park are located in Portland, Oregon and Sacramento, California.

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