Crater Lake National Park is the fifth oldest national park in the US and the only national park in Oregon. It is home to the deepest lake in the US - yes you guessed it right - The Crater Lake!
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The park is open all year around, however the best time to visit will depend on the type of activities you are interested in. If you just wanted to drive around the rim drive and check out a few hikes then Summer would be your best bet (May - October), however if you are interested in activities like skiing and snowshoeing then Winter would be the time to visit. However remember that Crater lake receives a lot of snow so there are lots of chances that roads could get closed due to heavy snow.
Plowing of the Rim Drives, North Entrance Road and the Pinnacles Road typically starts in mid to late April. West Rim Drive and North Entrance Road can open to vehicles as early as June. East Rim Drive and the Pinnacles Road do not normally open to vehicles until July.
If you really want to enjoy the nature and landscapes that this park offers then I would strongly advise that you plan a visit in the Summer months!
THINGS TO DO
One of the highlights of the Crater Lake National Park is the Rim drive, which is a circular route around the Crater lake with many pullout spots on the way. You'll get a lot of opportunities for photographing the lake from different viewpoints, and some of these locations also have few hiking trails for you to explore the landscape even more! Below we will look at the most famous viewpoints along the Rim drive , hiking trails which you can take and some other activities that you can do while driving around the Crater Lake! pullout spots on the way.
1. RIM DRIVE - A SCENIC 33 MILE DRIVE
The Rim drive is the best way to experience the beauty of the Crater Lake National Park. A scenic 33 mile drive that you have to take in a clockwise direction (since areas enroute are one way) , exposes you to the most spectacular viewpoints and hikes that the park has to offer!
If you are going to be driving from Portland then you will be entering the park through the North Entrance road , and the first viewpoint that you will come across is the Merriam point. This overlook leaves a great first impression on visitors coming to the Crater Lake National Park!
Watchman overlook is definitely one of the highlights of entire Rim drive. This viewpoint gives a beautiful view of the lake along with the Wizard Island in the foreground. There are plenty of parking spots available so don't worry about not being able find a parking spot here!Location : https://goo.gl/maps/h2ga6QP3uev
Located on the east side of the Rim drive, Phantom overlook is a viewpoint overlooking "Phantom Ship" which looks like a ghost ship but is actually a volcanic rock ridge that resembles a sailing ship - thus the name "Phantom Ship".
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/xcuTzXnmuV92
Cloudcap overlook is yet another scenic overlook that is located at the end of the highest paved road in the entire state of Oregon. This viewpoint offers panoramic views of the Crater Lake along with both the Phantom Ship and the Wizard Island!
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/ndxevURoP3G2
There is a large turnout available on the side of the road which gives you magnificent views of the lake along with Wizard Island. There is also a trail available here to hike if you want to.
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/DJ7akfHJAe92
The Crater Lake offers plenty of hiking opportunities that are spread across the entire Rim Drive!
This easy hike along the rim of the Pinnacle valley offers great views of the volcanic spires - which are basically 100 ft rock needles formed from volcanic ash. Do use caution while on this hike as it involves steep areas near the cliff side. The trail is about 0.8 miles (rt) and takes no less than 30 minutes.
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/PNTErGziuZP2
An easy walk through a forest leads you to a Waterfall plus an opportunity to see plenty of flowers in the Summer months. The entire trail is about 2 miles and will take you around an hour or so to complete. The trailhead is located en route to the Pinnacles.
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/bFDw64Gxhmy
This hike involves a rocky climb upto the Peak and offers spectacular panormaic views of the lake from the top of the mountain. The trail is around 3.6 mile roundtrip and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. It starts at the east end of the Rim village behind the Crater Lake lodge.
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/LgRP9FBGwM62
The only hike that offers legal access to the shore of the lake, this 1.1 mile steep incline hike takes about 1.5-2 hours to complete. Since it's a hike to the shore, it's but obvious that the most difficult part is the climb back up to the top! The important thing to note here is that if you booked the boat tour then this is the only way you can reach the docking area for your tour!
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/ktXFNb9sQDR2
For more information about other hikes that you can do here check out the official newsletter which gives detailed information about the various things to do and the current conditions of the trails.
3. BOAT TOURS
There are a couple of options available when it comes to boat tours on the Crater Lake & Wizard Island. The Standard boat cruise depart from the north side of Crater Lake at Cleetwood Cove and are approximately 2 hours in length. For more adventure, you may choose one of the Wizard Island Tours to be dropped off on Wizard Island for some additional hiking, exploration and beauty.
Remember, whichever option you choose it's your responsibility to make the 1.1-mile hike on Cleetwood Trail to access the lake and boat dock. This hike can be very strenuous, as it drops approximately 700-feet, and it may take 30 to 45 minutes to descend the trail.
4. TOKETEE FALLS
Toketee falls is a waterfall on the North Umpqua River at its confluence with the Clearwater River. The trailhead is located about 28 miles north of the Crater Lake , so if you have time after finishing up the park I would strongly suggest you check out the falls on the way back!
Location : https://goo.gl/maps/iCBYYb4V7nR2