Plan your Visit to
Crater Lake National Park
Much More Than Just a Big Lake
National parks are formed for any number of reasons. Some are formed for their natural resources, while others are formed to protect the animals living in a specific area, but some are formed for their geologic structure and that is where we get Crater Lake National Park. The area that Crater Lake National Park now sits on was once a volcanic hotspot. The mountain was called Mount Mazama and the peak is estimated to have been around 11,000 feet. Volcanic activity basically caused the mountain to collapse on itself losing approximately 3,000 feet off the top of the mountain. The area is now considered dormant, but has formed a very deep lake within the cavern created by the collapse of the mountain. Crater lake is 1,949 feet deep making it the deepest lake within North America. Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 and now boasts over 600,000 visitors annually to the 183,224 acre Oregon location.
Best Park for Accessibility
When to go
June – July – August – September – October
Crater Lake National Park Activities
Hiking – Scenic Drives – Boating – Biking – Wildlife – Family – Swimming – Fishing – Bird-Watching – Winter Sports
In an area of such geological wonder, you can bet that you will be able to see some rock formations that seem otherworldly. One such rock formation is known as Phantom Ship. The rock formation can be found Sun Notch and visible from the road. It resembles an ancient ship sailing across the water. The viewpoint close to the area and also named for the Phantom Ship gives you the perfect view of the structure to take pictures. It is one of the best geological wonders to be found within Crater Lake National Park.
For the Kids
One of the best things about visiting any national park is the looks on the kid’s faces when they see something that they have never before seen. At Crater Lake National Park, you will get to watch your child’s face light up from the moment they enter the park, but park rangers want your child to get involved rather than just stand on the sideline and look. Ranger led programs are fashioned throughout the summer months that allow kids to get in on the action.
The Junior Ranger Program at Crater Lake National Park gives kids from the ages of 6 to 12 the opportunity learn and grow. The activities are stationed behind the visitor’s center of the park and happen 3 times per day so you are sure to find a time that is right for your visit. The activity only takes about 20 minutes but gives children lasting memories they can take with them forever.
There are many animal species that call Crater Lake National Park home, but in an area that is known for frequent rain and wet conditions, amphibious creatures abound. Throughout your hike through the park you should be on the lookout for many of these creatures cooling themselves in creek beds and even in shallow puddles. Some of the most notable are the rough-skinned newt, western toad, and the Oregon ensatina. These and the other animals of the national park are protected and therefore should not be picked up or carried from the park for any reason. Pictures of these animals however are highly encouraged and they have even been known to pose for the camera from time to time, so respect their area, but have fun taking photos.
Things to Know
Crater Lake National Park is not one of the free entrance parks within the national park registry, but not to worry because the fees are relatively mild compared to many other family outings that you may have taken. Fees are merely $15 for a passenger vehicle, $10 for motorcycles, and $10 for non-motorized transportation and those arriving on foot. The fees received go to maintaining the park and keeping the rangers staffed so future generations can enjoy the park for years to come.
Camping within Crater Lake National Park is permitted and is available in two different campgrounds. Mazama Campground is the larger of the two with 214 camp sites with the ability to accommodate both tents as well as RV campers. The sites in this campground range in price from $22 per night up to $35 per night with the few sites that have electric and water hookups. The other campground is Lost Creek Campground and the 16-site campground is only equipped for tent campers. All campgrounds are open during the warmer months and closed during the frigid winters.
If established campsites are not what you are looking for, there is an option to camp in the backcountry. This option is not suitable for everyone because it requires that you bring all of your supplies that you will need for the duration of your trip. There are no amenities and you do have to obtain a fee permit so rangers can keep track of campers within the park.