At nearly 1,950 feet (594 meters) deep, Oregon’s Crater Lake holds the titles of America’s clearest and deepest lake (and the 9th-deepest in the world). Ringed by towering cliffs, the volcanic lake’s crystalline blue waters make for spectacular photos, whether from lookouts on Rim Drive or from the lake’s surface on a boat cruise.
With the lake at its center, this Oregon national park offers many ways for visitors to explore and enjoy. Take in the sights while driving along the 33-mile (53-kilometer) Rim Drive, which circles Crater Lake, or aboard a ranger-led cruise on the lake for a close-up view of rock formations like the Phantom Ship and Wizard Island. Backcountry camping, bicycling, fishing, stargazing, swimming, and wildlife-viewing are also on the menu. If you’re based in Portland, Crater Lake lies too far for a day trip, but you can visit the park as part of a guided multi-day tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Crater Lake National Park is a must-visit for adventure travelers, photographers, and families.
- Dress in layers; conditions can be cold and windy even in the summer.
- Public Wi-Fi is available at the Crater Lake Lodge and Annie Creek Restaurant.
- Cell phone coverage is unreliable in many areas of the park, so plan ahead.
- Developed areas of the park are generally accessible to wheelchair users, with the exception of the Sinnott Memorial Overlook.
How to Get There
Crater Lake National Park lies about 230 miles (370 kilometers) south of Portland and 184 miles (296 kilometers) north of Redding, California. With no public transportation to the park, visitors must either drive themselves or join a guided tour. The park’s closest commercial airports are Klamath Falls and Medford, 63 miles (101 kilometers) and 75 miles (121 kilometers) away, respectively.
When to Get There
While the park remains open throughout the year, the North Entrance Road and Rim Drive are closed from November through April or May due to snow. The lake is often hidden on rainy days. July, August, and September offer the best chances for warm and dry conditions.
Where Did Crater Lake Come From?
The crater filled with water seen today was created almost 8,000 years ago when Mount Mazama volcano erupted and collapsed. Crater Lake isn’t fed by any rivers or streams, but instead gets its water from only rain and snow—lots of it. Crater Lake National Park receives an average of 533 inches (about 44 feet) of snow per year.