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Views and Hikes in Crater Lake

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

Crater Lake in Oregon is almost untouched, heaven on earth. Too good to be true, serene beauty.


On this page, learn all about where to hike, stay and do in and around Crater Lake.

Getting ready to hike at Crate Lake!
Crater Lake, Oregon

Here are some basic questions I can answer for you:


What's so unique about Crater Lake?

Crater Lake was formed 7,700 years ago when a violent eruption triggered the collapse of a tall peak. This volcano was called Mount Mazama and was an important symbol to the native Makalak people who lived in that area. The blue lake water is very pure - fed only by rain and snow. It is the deepest lake in the USA, and perhaps one of the cleanest lakes in the world! It is also one of the snowiest places in the US - with an average of 43 feet of snow every year.


When is the best time to visit?

Summer is the most popular time to visit Crater Lake. If you are into snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing, then Winter time will work for you.


What should I do at Crater Lake?

First, review the Crater Lake National Parks government website: https://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm


Start with the Rim Visitor Center in the Rim Village. Pick up maps, review all the hikes and choose the ones you want to do. Of course, if you want to just sit by the ledges and enjoy the view, that's an option too.


We did both. We hung out by the rim for a bit and had lunch by a vista point.


Photos below: This is us, just chilling and enjoying the view, and admiring the Wizard Island that rises out of the lake. And although the 400,000 year old island looks small in the picture below, it is actually really big, made of erosion-resistant lava.


Then, it was time to hike! We decided to do three hikes, and we were SO exhausted by the end of it but it was worth it. This board by the Rim Center made it easy for us to choose which ones to pick.

Choose your hikes!
Walks and Hikes Board, Crater Lake

These were our hikes:


Watchman Peak

We climbed up a hill to see the entire lake!


Cleetwood Cove

Strenuous hike down the mountain to touch (and if you are into it, SWIM) in the ice cold lake water, and then a seriously exhausting hike back up to the parking lot. OMG, carry lots of water but use the bathroom in the parking lot before heading down as there are no restrooms down.


Three out of five of us jumped straight into the water to experience how cold it was. That was pretty nuts and unforgettable!


Plaikni Falls

Easier hike, more like a walk in the woods. The waterfall was delightful and the water was refreshingly cold!


Is there boating at Crater Lake?

There is but you need to go at the right time. Explore these links to book these tours. Note that tours are not always offered, and if you are late, you miss the boat....literally.


Can I stay at Crater Lake?

There is no accommodation at Crater Lake. You may find a few places around but most people stay in Klamath Falls, which is about 45 minutes to the lake, often called 'The Gateway to Crater Lake'. Play around with this Booking.com map below to see how things are priced. Also, its a cool looking map!

We were a group of five so it made sense for us to get an AirB&B at the Running Y which is a beautiful resort in Klamath Falls overlooking a golf course. It really was the best decision.

Klamath Falls is where most people stay when they visit Crater Lake
Map of Crater Lake and Where to Stay

The Running Y Ranch Golf and Spa Resort is situated at the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range on 3,600 pristine acres. You could stay at the lodge or one of their vacation homes (like we did), eat at the onsite Ruddy Duck (or the Indian restaurant, believe it or not), play at the Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, and swim or jacuzzi at their wellness center.


Do I need a car to go to Crater Lake?

Some hotels provide a shuttle to go to the Lake for the day. If you want to keep your own schedule, YES, rent a car.


What's the best place to rent a car?

It depends on where you are coming from. If you are coming from Portland, rent from Portland but know it is quite a drive down to Southern Oregon (4+ hours, pretty but long). My recommendation would be to fly into Medford as this is a decent sized airport. Rent a midsize car from Medford and drive to Klamath Falls. Stay the night and start with Crater Lake the next morning.


Is there anything to do in Klamath Falls?

Yes.

1. You can go zip lining through trees on 9 different ziplines, walk on 2 suspended sky bridges and rappel from the trees! All while taking in the views of Upper Klamath Basin and Cascade Mountains.


2. Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge may be fun to visit - to photograph and to learn about wildlife. The US Fish and Wildlife Service offers educational programs on Klamath Basin Refuges. You can also just drive around a 10-mile loop to see pelicans, egrets, herons, grebes, black-necked stilts, geese, ducks, cranes, tundra swans and bald eagles - depending on the time of the year


3. Lava Beds National Monument - check out a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. More than 800 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic campsites and high desert wilderness! Visit the visitor center before walking into the caves


4. Klamath Falls Lake is a favorite fishing spot in Klamath County. The Discover Klamath website is a good starting point for those interested in trout fishing!


5. White Water Rafting - Check out Noah's Rafting or Momentum River Expeditions


6. Hiking / Biking at Moore Park. Rent your bike at Zach's Bike Rentals. They even pick up and drop off at specific spots.


 

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