Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is absolutely amazing and so worth visiting! We are excited to share this Crater Lake National Park Travel Guide to help you plan the best trip possible to the park.
Crater Lake National Park Travel Guide
- Crater Lake National Park Travel Guide
- Crater Lake National Park Travel Tips
- How much does it cost to visit Crater Lake National Park?
- Where is Crater Lake Located?
- Where are the Crater Lake National Park Visitor Centers?
- Where can I find out about staying/camping in Crater Lake National Park?
- Is there a Junior Ranger Program at Crater Lake National Park?
- Can I bring my Dog/Pet with me to Crater Lake National Park?
- How Deep is Crater Lake?
- How much water is in Crater Lake?
- Can you swim in Crater Lake?
- How was Crater Lake Formed?
- Are there fish in Crater Lake?
- Can you go fishing in Crater Lake National Park?
- What birds can I see while visiting Crater Lake?
- What animals/wildlife can I see while visiting Crater Lake?
- How many people visit Crater Lake each year?
- Crater Lake National Park Facts
- Additional National Park Resources
Crater Lake is located in Oregon and is a must-visit for any park lover. There is just something so beautiful about that first moment you see the lake. The size, the deep blue color, and the view are simply amazing
Crater Lake National Park is much more than a big beautiful lake. Sightseers from far and wide stand in awe of its beauty from the moment they arrive in the park.
From its snow-covered mountains to the Pumice Desert, and finally the main attraction - Crater Lake, known not only for its size but its exceptional clarity and intense blue color.
Crater Lake was formed following several eruptions on Mount Mazama, with the main eruptions occurring approximately 7,700 years ago. The eruption produced over 150 times as much ash as did Mount St. Helens in Washington State, on May 18, 1980.
Ash scattered over eight states and three Canadian Providences. Some six inches of ash-covered over 5000 square miles. When all the eruptions settled down, a huge bowl-shaped caldera had been formed.
Over time water from springs, snows and rain began to collect and fill the caldera, producing what is thought to be the cleanest large body of water in the world, ranging from four and a half to six miles wide and 1943 feet deep.
The mountain is full of history and the lake is the main attraction, however, there is so much more that is available to do and see once you arrive.
A visitor can see all Crater Lake has to offer in a day but the more adventurous can take advantage of campground facilities, hiking trails, and ranger-guided activities.
Crater Lake is one of those places you have heard and seen photos of and the real thing exceeds expectations.
The journey is a long one and somewhat off from the well-traveled highways but Crater Lake NP is well worth the effort.
One hundred years ago visitors arrived in droves having traveled far more arduous conditions to gaze upon one of the natural wonders of the world.
Crater Lake National Park Travel Tips
Check for park road status before heading to Crater Lake. When we visited in late summer only 2/3 of the road was open due to snow. The road may also be closed due to fires and other weather conditions.
There is little to no cell phone reception in the park. We were able to get cell phone reception on the deck of the Crater Lake Lodge and in one of the first pull-outs as you head around the lake. Outside of those two places we did not have any service on our phones.
Make sure you have a full tank of gas. Seasonally gas is available at the Mazama Village Store but the rest of the year the closest gas is about 33 miles outside the park.
For More information on Crater Lake, visit my Things To Do Crater Lake article
We asked the members of the Park Ranger John Facebook group for their best tips for visiting Crater Lake. Here are some of the answers to help you plan a great visit!
We stayed at crater lake RV park - it was awesome - quick access to the park and town. Nice place to chill and enjoy a lazy river behind the campsite.~ Dave F.
I regret not planning ahead and reserving a boat trip to the island. ~ Stephen B.
Be prepared for an unforgettable experience!!! ~ Russ V.
Be sure and allow a lot of time. ~ Lona B.
We really enjoyed hiking down and taking a dip in the lake. It’s an unforgettable experience, but the water is really cold, even in the summer. ~ Chrissie R.
Go late in July. We were there in June and roads were not open due to snow. Said probably not open until around July 4. ~ Pam W.
Try to stay at the lodge. Sunset and sunrise are so amazing. ~ Anne
Wear good shoes. It is awesome to see all the lava, etc ~ Carol
Drive the entire rim. Be careful near the edge. Be sure to see the Pinnacles. Don't forget the viewpoint up by the Rim which pretty much overhangs the lake. ~ Joe
Get there early for parking! Take lots of pics. The last time I went we weren't able to drive the entire rim due to roads being cleared of debris. Do the trolley tour. ~ Cindy
If you can swing it spend at least one night at the lodge preferably two and do the trip down to the water's edge in the boat ride to Wizard Island. ~ Eric W
How much does it cost to visit Crater Lake National Park?
Cars - $30 in the summer (May 22-October 31), $20 in the winter (November 1-May 21). Pass good for 7 days
Motorcycles - Pass good for 7 days
$25 in the summer (May 22-October 31), $15 in the winter (November 1-May 21). Admits one or two passengers on a private, non-commercial motorcycle.
Bicycles & Pedestrians - $15 per individual. Admits one individual with no car (bicyclist, hiker, pedestrian). Youth 15 and under are admitted free of charge. Good for 7 days.
Crater Lake Annual Pass - $55
Free Entrance Days - Check out the 5 days each year the National Park Service waives entrance fees.
Other fees such as reservation, camping, lodging, tours, concession, and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.
Visit our page on National Park Pass to learn more about the park passes that are available.
Where is Crater Lake Located?
The park does not have a physical street address, so it can be hard to locate us using GPS.
Try entering "Crater Lake" or "Rim Village" as a town or waypoint, or entering the coordinates for Park Headquarters, which is 3 miles south of Rim Village:
42° 53' 48.91" North
122° 08' 03.08" West
How far is Crater Lake from Portland?
It is 236 miles from Portland to Crater Lake give or take a few miles depending on what part of town you start in.
Airport near Crater Lake?
We flew into the Medford, Oregon airport which is 75 miles from the park. You can also fly into Klamath Falls which is 63 miles from the park.
The North Entrance is closed for about 7 months each year. It closes November 1 (or earlier, if there is significant snowfall). The entrance normally opens by Mid-May to Late June depending on snowfall during the winter.
What state is Crater Lake in?
Where are the Crater Lake National Park Visitor Centers?
There are currently two visitors centers located within the park. Both are staffed with park rangers that can aid you in planning your trip as well as obtaining the weather forecasts. Books, maps and other educational materials are available for sale at both locations.
The Steel Visitor Center is located at Park Headquarters and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
The Rim Village Center is located at rim Village, with operational hours of 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day from June through September.
Where can I find out about staying/camping in Crater Lake National Park?
Crater Lake Lodge is open from May to October 15th. Opening dates depend on weather and conditions. Reservations are highly recommended.
There are also cabins at Mazama Village that are 7 miles south of the Rim Village. The cabins are available from May through October 1st.
Check out our Crater Lake Camping Guide for information on camping within the park. Nestled in the forests on the south side of the lake are two campgrounds.
Mazama Campground has both tent sites and RV sites with electrical hookups.
Lost Creek Campground is for tent camping only.
Is there a Junior Ranger Program at Crater Lake National Park?
You can earn both a Junior Ranger Badge and Junior Ranger Patch at Crater Lake.
The Junior Ranger Patch is available for kids ages 6 - 12 who join a ranger-led activity. These ranger-led activities normally take about 20 minutes and happen several times during the day.
Ask at the Rim Village Visitor Center for a current schedule of activities. They are normally held from Late June to September 4th. Patches are not available outside of this date range.
Junior Ranger Badges can be earned by kids ages 6 - 12 who complete at least 7 pages of the parks Junior Ranger activity book.
The Junior Ranger books are free and can be picked up at the visitor center. You can also download the Junior Ranger book ahead of your visit.
Can I bring my Dog/Pet with me to Crater Lake National Park?
Pets are welcome at Crater Lake National Park, but only in certain areas. Pets on a leash are allowed on paved roads and in parking lots, and up to 50 feet away from paved areas.
Leashes must be no more than 6 feet in length, and only one pet per person is allowed.
Pets are also allowed on a few of the park's hiking trails, none of these trails have a view of the lake:
- The Godfrey Glen Trail
- The Lady of the Woods Trail
- The Grayback Drive
- The Pacific Crest Trail (the official PCT, not the "alternate" PCT along the rim of the lake)
There are no kenneling services in the park. The closest kennels are one hour away in Klamath Falls.
How Deep is Crater Lake?
With a depth of 1,949 feet (594 m), Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.
Crater Lake is the ninth deepest lake in the world!
How much water is in Crater Lake?
4.486 cubic miles
4.6 trillion gallons of water in the lake
Can you swim in Crater Lake?
There is only one place in the park where you can swim in Crater Lake. The Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only access to the lake and shoreline where you can swim.
The trail is 1.1 miles long and drops nearly 700 feet down to the lakeshore.
The average temperature (below 300 feet deep) is 38°. In the summer, the surface can warm up to 55° or 60°
How was Crater Lake Formed?
Crater Lake was formed by the collapse of a volcano causing a caldera.
It is worth noting that a crater or moon rocks did not cause the crater to form. I have read a lot of people believe it the lake was formed by a giant meteor but this is not true.
Are there fish in Crater Lake?
The lake did not originally have fish but was stocked with six types of fish from 1888 to 1941.
Currently, there are two fish species that thrive in the lake, Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout.
Can you go fishing in Crater Lake National Park?
No fishing license is required within park boundaries.
There are no size restrictions or catch and possession limits for rainbow trout or kokanee salmon from the lake, or brook trout and brown trout from streams.
What birds can I see while visiting Crater Lake?
The most common birds seen within the park include Raven, Clark's Nutcracker, Gray Jay, Steller's Jay, Dark-Eyed Junco, and Mountain Chickadee.
What animals/wildlife can I see while visiting Crater Lake?
The most common wildlife seen within the park includes Roosevelt Elk, Mule Deer, Black Bear, Coyote, Bobcat, Porcupine, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Pine Marten, Snowshoe Hare, Pika, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, and Townsend Chipmunk.
How many people visit Crater Lake each year?
In 2019 the park received 704,512 visitors.
Not quite making it onto the list of most visited National Parks.
Crater Lake National Park Facts
Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902
The park averages 44 feet of snow a year
Crater Lake is 1,943 feet deep, the deepest in the USA and one of the 10 deepest in the world
Additional Resources Information
Additional National Park Resources
Check out all of the Oregon National Parks for more info on parks in the area.
National Park Lodges - check out all of the amazing National Park Lodges in the United States.
Camping Games - Check out all of the great games you can bring camping
National Park Bucket List - How many of these bucket list items have you completed?
Washington National Parks - Don't miss the great parks just north of Crater Lake
Oregon Coast Camping - Check out some of the amazing parks you can camp in on the coast.