Summer is almost here and no better time than to put up an entry for a national park that is one of Oregon’s most precious gems. Crater Lake National Park’s grandeur, beauty and serenity is what makes this wonder one of the most visited places in Oregon. A blog entry for Crater Lake has been long due and since most people prefer to visit Crater Lake during summer, I thought this would be great time to put this out. Crater Lake is the deepest in the US and is “considered” to be the “bluest” too. Unrealistically blue…but sublime! Once you look at it, you will know 🙂
Crater Lake National Park is one of those places where you have plenty to time to sink in the natural beauty since the park is quite small and if you are not visiting nearby places, two days should be more than enough to cover the park. The lake was created by volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama. By the way, there is an ancient legend associated with the creation of the Wizard island in the middle of this caldera, as well as a few other creations within the lake, but, I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the legend when you visit Crater Lake.
THINGS TO DO: Definitely start with the Rim drive. It is a 30-40 mile loop and even if you take the whole day, you can comfortably stop at all the vista points and pack in a few hikes. Take a hike down the Cleetwood Trail which is the only trail going down to the lake. This is the only place where the volcano boat tours depart. By the way, only some boat tours depart for the Wizard island. The rest just go around the lake for a couple of hours. So make sure you check the timings if you plan on going to Wizard island. If you don’t want to go to the island, then Watchman lookout on the rim drive has some great views of the Wizard island. Another great stop is the Pinnacles Overlook. A lot of people miss this, but I highly suggest taking the stroll to the end of the road at the overlook. Along the rim drive is a wonderful rock formation called Pumice castle. Some great photograph opportunities at the Pinnacles as well as Pumice castle. Along the rim drive, there will be plenty of vista points to take a look at Phantom ship, however; we took the short walk at the Sun Notch Phantom Ship View Point. Vidae Falls is a pretty famous stop too! There are a lot of hiking options, so choose depending on how much time you have. Even if you don’t hike, the rim drive has plenty of amazing panoramas capturing the beauty of the place.
ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS: Staying inside the park always helps. There are a few options – The lodge at the lake has spectacular views of the lake. If you don’t want to stay in a lodge, then there are a couple of campsites in the park too. We camped at the Mazama campground. They have a few first-come, first-serve campsite reservations, so no prior planning is required if you reach there before a reasonable time. A bug (big) warning if you are camping: July is the time when all the insects and bugs in the whole world gather at Crater Lake NP. Seriously…no kidding!!! If you go without an insect repellent, you will literally be at bug mercy!
BEST TIME TO VISIT: July to September (if you want less snow and open roads). But I have seen some gorgeous photographs of Crater Lake National Park in winter so if you are okay with cooler temperatures, check the weather and road conditions before making plans. I believe the campsites will be closed, but other lodging options should be open.
AROUND CRATER LAKE NP: If you are into caving, go check out Lava Beds National Monument. We stopped by at this monument for half a day on our way to Crater Lake National Park. The place has plenty of volcanic caves to explore. If you are not a pro, only attempt the beginner and intermediate caves. The advanced ones require some caving skills so be cautious and well prepared if you want to venture into those! The volcanic legacy scenic byway from Lava Beds (Klamath falls) to Crater Lake is a gorgeous drive.
Crater Lake for me is a leisurely vacation stop with not much to do but relax and enjoy one of nature’s great creations :). If you are looking for a vacation outside California, but not too far, Crater Lake would be an awesome option!