Crater Lake on a fine clear summer day is picture perfect. Its calm blue waters are sure to form a mirror of beautiful clouds in the sky. You will think this is all to its charm until you see it in winter, when the park has an average of a-524 inches snow cover. The lake then becomes 50% invisible and its lake’s edge becomes a frosty perfect playground and truly shines, a reflection of the promises that Crater Lake Camping holds for you.
Crater Lake camping is an almost ethereal experience. The pristine clear lake is the clearest and deepest lake (and the ninth deepest in the world) in North America, and unarguably one of the most fascinating. It was formed in the course of one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever about 7,700 years ago when a volcano (now Mount Mazama) erupted and a 12,000-foot peak was leveled. In its place was a caldera, a cauldron-like cavity that filled with rain and snow over the years to form what we now refer to as Crater Lake.
Camping Crater Lake –
Campgrounds near Crater Lake such as Mazama campground, named after Mount Mazama allows you to enjoy the beauty of the Crater Lake national park during summer or winter as you wish.
Crater lake camping allows you to enjoy the interesting sights and sounds of the park such as mystery of the lake itself, the Wizard Island, the Phantom Ship Island, boat rides, cliff jumping, cycling, hiking, wildflower viewing and waterfall explorations and other hidden adventures in the forested landscape surrounded by mountain ridges which provide some of the most iconic and amazing views in the Northwest. Another lovely thing about Crater Lake is its wineries because of its location. This is definitely a cheery reason to camp out in the lake and so we’ll explore here the campground options for Crater Lake Camping to ensure you have a great outdoor experience whilst in the wild.
The Mazama Campground – Crater Lake Camping
The Mazama Campground is the closest campsite to the Crater Lake and the best place to cap if you want to fully explore the park. it can be found South of the Rim and has 214 sites. All the sites have fire rings and picnic tables. Most sites can be booked in advance and this is particularly recommended during the summer months
Campsites are available on a first come basis. There is a 50% Campground Fee discounts for Senior Pass and Access Pass holders. There is, however, no discount for other passes such as the Interagency and Military passes.
Advance reservations may be made online or by phone for a limited number of RV and tent sites. Other sites are available on a first-come-first-served basis at the campground. RV campers can have up to 2 tents in their RV sites if there is space to take the tents but tents cannot be used exclusively (without RVs) in RV sites
The campground has a camper store, fire rings, a gas station, picnic tables, potable water spigots, public restrooms, dump station and a hydration store. Electrical hook-ups are limited to only a few sites, on a first come-first serve basis. Pay-per-use showers are available in the Camper Store. Water is also available at the Hydration Station, in front of the Camper Store. A limited number of accessible RV sites are available.
Generators can come on within the hours of 8 am and 8 pm while 10 pm to 7 am are quiet hours.
Permitted Fires –
Wood fires are only permitted in designated fire rings and not anywhere else. Fires should be attended to and extinguished properly after use. Only approved firewood is allowed on camp. The potential introduction of non-native insects and plants via the transportation of firewood requires that you comply with the “Buy it where you Burn” campaign. Firewood must be “Approved Pacific Northwest Firewood.” And can be bought at the Mazama Camper Store or other camping stores in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
Water is prudently managed because it is a precious resource while gray water from RVs and trailers is expected to be properly contained and disposed at the campground dump station. The sites have a camper store, laundry, and showers (showers and laundry machines require quarters). All vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and trailers inclusive should be kept on paved areas when not in use. It is a pet friendly campground but pets should be on a leash and their owners should be prepared to clean up after them.
Lost Creek Campground – Crater Lake Camping
The Lost Creek Campground is a developed campground located by the Pinnacles Spur road. Camp sites here cost $10.00 per night. It is a modest campground that is well removed from the usual tourist activities in the park. Apart from the Mazama campground, this is the only other campground located within the park
It is a tent-only campground and getting a spot here is based on a first-come first-served basis. No reservations so you have to come early enough if you want to get a choice spot.
It is located in the forests south of the lake and open only during summer. There are 16 campsites and each site has a picnic table, fire ring, grill and metal bear box for storing food and other scented stuffs. Generators are not allowed on this campground.
The campground is open from July through early-October, provided the weather is fair.
Huckleberry Mountain Campground – Crater Lake Camping
The Huckleberry Mountain Campground is situated just outside of the Crater Lake Park. It has spacious campsites and a lot of huckleberry picking this primitive camping area is however closed to OHV trails but popular among off-road vehicle enthusiasts. It’s a great option that will come in handy when other campgrounds are full if you choose to ignore the fact that it’s far from other adventures. No reservations, sites are on a first-come-first-served basis.
It is a pet-friendly camp so you can come with your pets. There is no water in the campground, so be sure to come with as much as you will need.
Thielsen Forest Camp – Crater Lake Camping
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The Thielsen Forest Camp is a free campground that is near the highway. It is a well forested campground that provides a refreshing shade during the day and a cool ambiance in the evenings. Reservations are not possible but campsites can be gotten on a first-come first served basis. It is also a pet-friendly camp. There is no water in the campground, so be sure to come with as much as you will need.
Union Creek Resort – Crater Lake Camping
Union creek resort is not a regular campground but a place you can find an alternative accommodation Union Creek Resort has about everything you need to be comfortable in and around Crater Lake. There are lodge rooms and cabins depending on your accommodation preferences. There are also 23 acres of woodland to explore, home to 23 cabins of different sizes. The resort has a country store, game room, and multiple dining options with a team of hospitable staff that are ever ready to cater to your needs and give you the necessary help that you require. It is a group and family friendly resort and is not too far away from the adventures and fun places of the park.
Toketee Lake Campground – Crater Lake Camping
The Toketee campground offers shady and secluded campgrounds by the North Umpqua River. It’s located close to the Toketee Falls and the North Umpqua Hot Springs. A boat ramp is available. Outdoor activities include boating, fishing, and swimming Reservations are not possible but campsites can be gotten on a first come first served basis. It is also a pet-friendly camp. The group camp is currently closed but can be noted for future visits to the area.
Lightning Springs Campground – Crater Lake Camping
Lighting Camping area is a perfect place to camp if you are interested in a short but memorable backcountry hike into a place where you can set up camp for the night. This camping area is less than a mile in from the main trailhead and is a choice spot for hiking, backcountry camping and the easiest to access It’s a freestyle camp so b sure to go with the basics that you’ll need to be comfortable through the night.
Keep your food and scented in bear boxes because of bears. There’s water available in this campground which can be filtered or boiled, you can also carry your own water as a convenient alternative. The Mazama village is close by if you’ll be around for more than a night and need a shower, camp supplies or anything else.
Crater Lake Lodge – Crater Lake Camping
Crater Lake Lodge is not a regular campground but a suitable lodging destination if you’ll be camping in Crater Lake. It is one of the few standing lodges of the historic National Park lodges. It was first opened in 1915 but years of use complicated by its initial poor construction necessitated the need to completely re-engineer and remodel it in 199. This notwithstanding, it has not lost any of its original charm and is loved for its compact rooms that come in handy when you need to camp in Crater Lake. The rooms are quite expensive (nights start at $200 USD) and get booked pretty fast. You can make reservations in advance once you know your travel dates.
The rooms are basic; no frills like phones and TVs but you’ll be comfortable enough not to notice. Other attractions apart from the accommodation include the Great Hall, exhibit of the Lodge’s history, excellent culinary delicacies in the dining room with a view of the lake.
Things to do in Crater Lake
The Crater Lake National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the world to be, probably the blue-water effect of the deep pristine lake. The breathtaking magnificence of the caldera makes the lake more stunning and perhaps a bit dramatic. The good thing about its depth is the fact that the lake rarely freezes over entirely even in long, cold winters. There’s no end to the many fun things you can do all year long at the Crater Lake national park either as a camper or as a tourist.
From boat tours and scenic drives to bicycling, hiking and fishing, the list is endless. Once you find yourself at Crater Lake, enjoy the possibilities it has to offer and be sure to take pictures of the scenic landscapes while you’re at it. Some of the interesting things to do at Crater Lake include the following:
Visit the Steel Visitor Centre – Things to do in Crater Lake
The Steel visitor center is a multipurpose year-round facility. Apart from being a visitor’s center, it also serves as a bookstore, post office, and the park’s headquarters, the more reason you need to visit it to understand what does on in there every day. You can actually make it your first port of call to get a grasp of what Crater Lake is all about through a film and some interpretive exhibits. There are also expert park rangers who will come in handy if you need more information on the terrain of the area, trails and road condition. You see why you need to be here first?
Taste Some Wine – Things to Do In Crater Lake
One of the beautiful things about Crater Lake is that it is found in the part of the country that’s perfect for growing grapes. This means wine and wineries, lots of them. The LaBrasseur Vineyard is about a great day trip from the park. The family-run vineyard has a tasting room for awesome selections of great wines such as Rieslings, Syrahs and dessert wines. There are stunning views from the tasting room that’ll make the experience worth your while.
Hike the Hiking Trails – Things to do in Crater Lake
There are different hiking trails for your hiking pleasure. Crater Lake has over 90 miles of hiking trails that range from easy (0.3 mi/0.5km) to exhausting (12 mi/18km). Be sure to have water with you when hiking, you’ll need it.
The Cleetwood Cove Trail is one of the best trails. It takes you from the crater’s rim down to the lake shore—where you can explore the beach, swim in the crystal clear water or just dip your toes in it.
The Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only official trail to the lake. Walking back might be a bit tiring because it is an incline. There are however benches along the way, for you to rest. There are also toilets at the top and bottom of the trail.
Boat Trips – Things to do in Crater Lake
There are boat trips from the bottom of Cleetwood Cove Trail for tours to explore the Wizard Island during summer. The tours are relaxing and help you to see the different sides of the park in their unique perspectives and sceneries.
The standard tour costs $42 USD (2 hours), the Wizard Island Tour is $57 (5 hours) or $32 USD for the Wizard Shuttle (4 hours), a direct trip to the Island. The boat trips are best enjoyed when the temperatures are not freezing, obviously.
Circumnavigate Crater Lake – Things to do in Crater Lake
The 33-mile Rim Drive is the best way to see the whole of Crater Lake! Don’t be in a rush as you drive this road, some traffic is normal. There are also historic trolleys to drive you along the scenic landscape. It is a 2-hour trip with stops at all the interesting spots. The trolleys are available only during summer. They are also eco-friendly, so you can relax. Tickets are available at the booth in Rim Village.
The drive around Crater Lake offers plenty opportunities for quick front-country hiking. There is a driveway that also leads to the lakeshore, similar to the Cleetwood Cove Trail. The drive is open for car traffic only in summer (because it is used as an un-groomed trail during December to April for cross-country skiing.
Scramble up Union Peak – Things to do in Crater Lake
The Union Peak Hike is great if you’re fit and you have time on your hands to sweat it out a little. It is a fun attempt at mountaineering if you have future plans for a long-term goal of summitting larger volcanoes. It is also a better alternative to the heavily trafficked trail up Mount Scott. A plus to scrambling up union peak is that you get to see beautiful landscapes from an elevated perspective.
Fishing – Things to do in Crater Lake
Crater Lake is home to Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout. The good part is you don’t need a fishing license within the boundaries of the park. You can fish in the lake all year long except when the weather makes it dangerous to do so. You can access the lake from the Cleetwood Trail, north of the Crater Lake Only artificial lures and flies can be used in the waters though.
Bicycling – Things to do in Crater Lake
There are different bicycle routes at Crater Lake. One of the most popular for the right reasons is the 33-mile Rim Drive. Bicycling the long narrow road is usually a spectacular experience. Cyclists start from the park headquarters and go clockwise around the lake. It is always a thrilling experience.
Watch out for wildlife- Things to do in Crater Lake
There’s wildlife in the area though mostly limited to the lowlands around the caldera. You should find different types of birds such as hawks, and eagles at the summit and also small mammals. The forested slopes are home to coyote, deer, fox, elk, and porcupine while salmon and trout can be found in the lake.