Top Things to Do in Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park, located in southern Oregon, is a breathtaking destination known for its pristine blue lake and stunning natural beauty. With a depth of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. Surrounding the lake are towering cliffs and vibrant forests, providing visitors with countless opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration. In this article, we will explore the top things to do in Crater Lake National Park that will make your visit an unforgettable experience.
1. Take the Crater Lake Rim Drive
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Crater Lake is by taking the Rim Drive, a 33-mile scenic road that encircles the entire lake. The drive offers breathtaking views of the lake from different angles, with various pullouts and viewpoints along the way. Make sure to stop at Discovery Point for a panoramic view of the lake and Wizard Island.
2. Explore Wizard Island
Speaking of Wizard Island, this volcanic cinder cone located within Crater Lake is a must-visit attraction. Take a boat tour to Wizard Island and spend a few hours hiking to the summit. The hike rewards you with stunning views of the lake from a different perspective. You can also swim or fish in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the island.
3. Hike the Garfield Peak Trail
If you’re up for a challenge and want to enjoy breathtaking panoramic vistas, hike the Garfield Peak Trail. This 3.4-mile round trip trail takes you to the summit of Garfield Peak, offering stunning views of Crater Lake and its surroundings. Make sure to bring sturdy hiking shoes and plenty of water as the trail can be steep and strenuous at times.
4. Visit the Crater Lake Lodge
The historic Crater Lake Lodge is a must-visit while exploring the national park. Built in 1915, the lodge offers magnificent views of Crater Lake from its terrace and various rooms. Step inside the lodge to appreciate its rustic charm and learn about the park’s history. Consider staying overnight to experience the tranquility of the lake during sunrise and sunset.
5. Take a Boat Tour
Explore the depths of Crater Lake by taking a boat tour. These tours allow you to experience the lake up close and learn about its geology and history from knowledgeable guides. The tours also offer opportunities for fishing and swimming in the cerulean waters. Be sure to make reservations in advance, as the boat tours are popular and book up quickly during the summer months.
6. Enjoy Winter Activities
Crater Lake National Park is a winter wonderland, offering a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts. During winter, the park receives heavy snowfall, transforming it into a winter playground. Enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or take a guided snowmobile tour to explore the park’s stunning landscapes in a completely different setting.
7. Stargaze at Crater Lake
Crater Lake is not only a sight to behold during the day; it offers exceptional stargazing opportunities as well. The park’s remote location, minimal light pollution, and high elevation make it an ideal spot for observing the night sky. Join a ranger-led stargazing program or venture out on your own to witness the stunning display of stars above the lake.
8. Discover the Sun Notch Trail
The Sun Notch Trail is a short, easy hike that rewards you with breathtaking views of Crater Lake’s deep blue waters. The trail takes you to a viewpoint overlooking the Phantom Ship, a natural rock formation in the lake. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the beauty of this unique geological feature.
9. Go Camping
To truly immerse yourself in the beauty of Crater Lake National Park, consider camping overnight. The park offers several campgrounds, both developed and primitive, where you can sleep under the stars and wake up to the peaceful sounds of nature. Make reservations in advance, especially during peak summer months, as camping spots fill up quickly.
10. Visit the Pinnacles
Located on the east side of Crater Lake National Park, the Pinnacles offer a unique geological experience. These towering spires and pinnacles were formed by volcanic activity ages ago. Take a short hike through this surreal landscape and witness the wonders of nature up close. The Pinnacles offer fantastic photo opportunities, especially during sunrise and sunset.
With its mesmerizing blue lake, panoramic views, and diverse natural beauty, Crater Lake National Park is a destination like no other. Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, boating, or simply admiring the stunning scenery, this national park has something for everyone. Plan your visit and embark on an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Oregon’s natural wonders.