Crater Lake is widely known for its intense blue color and spectacular views. During summer, visitors may navigate the Rim Drive around the lake, enjoy boat tours on the lake surface, stay in the historic Crater Lake Lodge, camp at Mazama Village, or hike some of the park's various trails including Mt. Scott at 8,929 ft. Diverse interpretive programs enhance visitors' knowledge and appreciation of this national park, 90% of which is managed as wilderness. The winter brings some of the heaviest snowfall in the country, averaging 533 inches per year. Although park facilities mostly close for this snowy season, visitors may view the lake during fair weather, enjoy cross-country skiing, and participate in weekend snowshoe hikes.
Crater Lake has long attracted the wonder and admiration of people all over the world. Its depth of 1,943 feet (592 meters) makes it the deepest lake in the United States, and the ninth deepest in the world. Its fresh water is some of the clearest found anywhere in the world. The interaction of people with this place is traceable at least as far back as the eruption of Mount Mazama. Founded May 22, 1902, Crater Lake National Park seeks to preserve these natural and cultural resources.
Crater Lake National Park is one of America's oldest national parks and has been a source of public enjoyment and inspiration for over 100 years. Millions of Americans have gazed on the sublime beauty of Crater Lake. But few realize that under this beautiful veneer lies an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom; a place that draws scientists, teachers and students to investigate, instruct and learn from and about our natural world. From scenery to science and education, the Park's value to society is expanding.
While there's no "best" way to experience the park - that depends on your interests, time and ambitions - there are different activities, trails and opportunities to enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of this special place.
The park is open year-round but winter access is limited. In the summer, hiking, boat tours, trolley tours, ranger-guided programs, swimming, fishing, ranger talks, evening programs, camping and other activities are offered.
During the summer, you can explore old-growth forests or wildflower meadows. Climb mountains for great views of the lake or hike to the lake itself. For a longer hike, try a backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Whether just hiking down the Cleetwood Trail for a swim or joining a boat tour of the volcano, visiting the shore of Crater Lake is a unique experience. Typically the trail is accessible from July to October, depending on the snows.
In the late-Spring, typically in June, the Rim Drive starts to open up. As plows clear the snow, more pavement becomes available for walkers, bicyclists and then automobiles. Typically, the entire Rim Drive is open by the beginning of July. Winter weather starts to close the Rim Drive in October or November.
Enter the park from the south entrance at Annie Springs (off Highway 62). Stop by the Steel Visitor Center (open year-round), located near park headquarters four miles north of the Annie Springs fee station. Rangers and NHA staff can assist you with your visit and help plan hikes, advice on lodging and camping, where to access the Cleetwood Trail (only trail to the lake surface), the best approach to drive around the lake and optimal spots for photographs. An 18-minute informative video is shown in the auditorium upon request.
Enter the park from the north (off Highway 138 - summer only), ten miles south to North Junction. A left turn leads to Rim Drive around the north side of the lake and caldera. To access West Rim Drive and Rim Village, continue straight at North Junction, proceeding to an intersection six miles south. Turn left to enter Rim Village and access the Rim Cafe/Gift Shop (open year-round), Crater Lake Trolley Tours (summer), the Rim Visitor Center (summer), the Sinnott Memorial Overlook (summer) and the Crater Lake Lodge (summer). Turn right to proceed to the Steel Visitor Center (three miles downhill, on the right), the South Entrance and Highway 62 (seven miles from the Rim).