It gets you every time. As your car climbs through the surrounding foothills of the Cascade Range, passing endless trees, neighboring lakes, and wild rivers, you finally reach the top. You pull into whichever scenic overlook is first, grab your camera, and hustle over to the edge…
…and there it is, in all its glory. Aptly named one of Oregon’s “Seven Wonders,” it’s easy to see why. Stretching out in front of you is Crater Lake, with the deepest, most brilliant blue color you’ve ever seen. Surrounding the lake is a ring of jagged peaks and sheer cliffs. And rising above the water is Wizard Island, made of cinder cone, seemingly its own little world.
Crater Lake is one of the country’s oldest National Parks, dating back to 1902. While Native Americans have known about the sacred location for centuries (if not millennia), it wasn’t seen by Oregon settlers and prospectors until the 1850s, and later mapped in the 1880s. Once word got out about this geologic wonder, it was thankfully protected for future generations to come.
You could easily spend days exploring the park — and that’s not a bad idea at all. There are countless hiking trails, scenic vistas, a historic lodge, campgrounds, and a couple of small visitor centers. If you’re short on time, the NPS tries to keep the road along the western rim open as much as possible, while the entire loop around the lake is only accessible during the warmest months of the year. Amazingly, the park gets over 450 inches of snow per year! (So be sure to check weather conditions before you go.)
We’ve been fortunate enough to spend the night at the Crater Lake Lodge in the past, and it’s definitely worth the experience if you can make a reservation. It’s only open seasonally, but there is just something magical about sitting on the back patio at night, seeing the pitch black sky and endless numbers of stars. Same goes for waking up in the morning and enjoying lake views with a coffee in-hand!
Tips for Visiting Crater Lake NP:
- Double-check weather, road, and park conditions *before* your visit!
- There is fuel (seasonal) available inside the park at Mazama Village, but best to fill up beforehand, just in case.
- Food is available (seasonal) at Mazama Village, Rim Village Cafe, and Crater Lake Lodge. Again, check hours and whether open/closed beforehand.
- Bring water and snacks.
- Cell phone reception is spotty, at best.
- Pack layered clothing.
GPS Coordinates (WGS84 / Decimal Degrees):
|Park Headquarters / Steel Visitor Center:|
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