Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park is not only a sight to behold, but an experience to remember. With incredible views throughout the park, and a variety of trails that will appeal to novice and veteran hikers alike, it’ s a great place to go, whether you want to take it easy or sweat it out. It also holds a few distinctions: it’s the only national park in the state of Oregon, and is home to the country’s deepest lake.
The best time to visit is certainly the summertime, when the sky is typically bright and clear, and temperatures hover around the mid-70s. In addition, you can enjoy all of the fun that Crater Lake has to offer without the limitations of inclement weather, including cycling, hiking, and boating.
If you do find yourself at the park in the winter, there are snowshoe hikes led by rangers, accessible trails for cross-country skiing and snowboarding. However, seasonal road closures often begin in mid-fall and the streets can remain impassable through early June, so opportunities for activities are fewer. On the other hand, you most certainly won’t have to fight through the summer crowds and can enjoy a more peaceful and serene experience.
Hiking is arguably the most popular pastime here. The famous Pacific Crest Trail (recently featured in the movie Wild) winds through the park, so advanced trekkers looking for a real challenge will certainly find it here. However, there are more than 100 miles to explore, with routes that range from easy to strenuous. If you want to give your feet a rest, hop in the car and take a spin on Rim Drive, which promises many photo-ops along the way. You can also take a boat ride to Wizard Island, a formation made of volcanic material. Here, you can go swimming, fish, or hike for a few hours, so it makes for an ideal day trip from the park.
Food options are surprisingly plentiful, with four places to grab a bite on the premises: the Rim Village Cafe, Annie Creek Restaurant, the Mazama Village Camper Store, and the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room.
As for lodging choices, there’s the Crater Lake Lodge and the Mazama Motor Inn, both within the park. Outside of the park, there’s a larger selection of accommodations, though some are only open seasonally. Those looking to live off of the land are welcome to set up shop during the summer months at the Mazama Campground, and the Lost Creek campground is open into October. Wherever you stay, you’re in for an amazing time discovering the natural beauty of Crater Lake.