I first visited Crater Lake in the 1970’s when a relative was visiting from the U.K. It was a show stopper then and is a show stopper now. Two problems exist however with Crater Lake. First, it’s hard to get to. Secondly, it’s not very accessible after it starts snowing. (usually after 10/31)
Crater Lake is open year round. From the South via highway 62 you can get to the Rim Village in Winter. After November first the North Entrance and the Rim Drive are usually closed and does not open again until early June. A big part of visiting the Lake is the drive around the rim and that is not possible much of the year.
With that said a few facts about the lake.
1. It is the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1943 feet.
2. The Rim Village has an altitude of 7100 feet.
3. The Surface elevation of the lake is 6173 feet.
4. The lake is 6.02 miles ta the widest.
5. The park was created in 1902.
6. The park receives an average of 533 inches of snow a year.
7. The drive around the lake is 33 miles (allow three hours).
8. The rim has 30 pullouts for viewing.
9. The coldest average temperature is 18 degrees in January.
10. The warmest average temperature is 69 degrees in July.
When you arrive at the lake the views are stunning. The deep blue of the lake is accentuated by the the three awesome peaks, with the highest at 8900 feet. The view from the veranda at the lodge will take away your breath.
A little history, the lake was formed 7700 years ago. That is 5700 years before Christ. Archeologists found a sandal in the ash of Mount Mazama dated to that period. Which gives rise to the speculation that Native Americans viwed the eruption. The lake was formed by centuries of rain and snow filling the cauldron. What’s left inside the lake is the lava eruptions of Wizard Island and the Phantom Ship (viewed from the overlook on the rim drive).
Highway 97 from bend, turn at 138 and follow signs to North Entrance. Drive south from Eugene to Roseburg and head East. The Rogue-Umpqua scenic byway is a 100 miles of oohs and aaars. From the South it’s 80 miles from Medford/Grants Pass.
Car $15.00 (7 day pass)
Various passes are available including the America the Beautiful Senior Pass. Any US resident 62 years or older. This pass is good for a lifetime at almost any Federal recreation site for $10.
You have two motels (run by a contractor)., the Lodge and the Mazama Village Cabins.
Somewhat limited in the cuisine department. We bring our own lunch and picnic. During the summer the lodge is a great option. Down from the lodge is a snack bar in the gift shop. Lower down from the lodge you have other services including limited grocery shopping.
What to Do:
The pinnacles are a must see. The chimneys were formed by cooling ash. A 1 mile flay hike is a nice way to see the volcanic spires. Best option is to eat your picnic lunch in the area near the car park.
A boat tour is a terrific way to be on the water and see the lake. To get to the tour involves a steep hike down a 1.1 mile trail. The boat launch area has limited swimming and fishing. Beware the water is very cold.
In addition to the rim drive you have many hiking opportunities. When you enter the park ask for literature on the hikes.
In summary Crater Lake National Park is a must see for anybody visiting Oregon