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Your guide to Crater Lake
All About Crater Lake
Crater Lake’s crystalline blue waters beckon visitors to this Southern Oregon national park from around the world. Formed by the collapse of the Mount Mazama volcano, the lake is unique in that there are no rivers, creeks, or tributaries flowing into it or out of it, and its depth of 1,949 feet makes it the deepest lake in the United States. A hike to the park’s highest point, Mount Scott, rewards you with panoramic views of the waters below, while birdwatchers visit for the chance to spot grouse, jays, and other species.
Head to the Steel Visitors Center and follow the nearby nature trail to explore a flora fan’s paradise in the Castle Crest Wildflower Garden, or put on your snowshoes during a winter trip for a scenic hike in snowy surroundings. The lake is also home to two small islands — Wizard Island and smaller Phantom Ship, which can both be accessed by boat.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Crater Lake
Late summer is a recommended time to head to Crater Lake vacation rentals, when the last of the snow melts from the park’s highest hiking trails and a carpet of wildflowers spreads over the slopes. If you’re entering from the north, note that this entrance to the park opens in early June and generally closes at the end of October. Fall is a popular time to arrive at Crater Lake cabins and admire the changing foliage dotted around the water’s edge, while the lake itself appears an even inkier blue. The winter months require cold weather clothing, but there are plenty of adventures to be had, including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Changing weather conditions at different elevations mean that you’ll always need to be prepared with sun protection and layers, whatever the season.
Top things to do in Crater Lake
Located near the western shore of Crater Lake, Wizard Island is a volcanic cinder cone, with a crater at the cap dubbed the “Witches Cauldron.” Take a leisurely boat tour across the water to reach the island, where you can relax with a scenic hike or just picnic with a stellar view. Bear in mind that boat shuttles operate summer-only services.
Things may be quieter at Crater Lake in the winter but there’s no lack of outdoor activities to explore here. Rangers lead snowshoe walks through the park, and Nordic skiing enthusiasts are well catered to, with several winding trails easily accessible from the plowed road to Rim Village.
One of the best ways to take in the stunning panoramas at Crater Lake National Park is to take a trip along the historic Rim Drive, designed to contour and compliment the natural landscape. At 33 miles long, this loop is the perfect distance for an unforgettable afternoon drive — or time your trip to hit one of the many viewpoints along the way during sunset.