Crater Lake National Park

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Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park had been on my bucket list for years before I was finally able to plan a trip out there. Not only is it the deepest lake in the United States but did you know that all of the water in the Lake was collected by rain and snow. Not only is this lake known for its vivid blue color, but it is considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world!

Crater Lake

Getting there: If you are located on the Northwest Coast the best way to access Crater Lake is by car.  The drive is 5 hours from Sacramento & Reno and about 7 hours from San Francisco & Seattle. For anyone else located outside of driving distance, the closest airports to Crater Lake are Medford which is located 90 minutes from the park and Portland which is located 5 hours from the park.  Your best bet from the airport is to rent a car but if that is not an option there is a Crater Lake Taxi that can offer transportation.

**Something very important to keep in mind is that Crater Lake is barely dog friendly. We did have our pup with us and that limited us to only being able to hike on 4 trails. Dogs are not allowed more than 15 meters off a paved road and on 4 hiking trails (Godfrey Glen Trail, Lady of the Woods Trail, Grayback Drive, and Pacific Crest Trail.) As much as I love bringing Oakley on vacations, I would leave the pooch behind for this trip.

Crater Lake

Stay: We stayed at the Agency Lake Resort  which is an option for budget travelers. They offer tent sites and trailers. At the time of our stay, the lake was not accessible as it was covered in algae and possibly toxic to dogs. This campground is located about 50 minutes from the entrance to Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake

We did find plenty of other great options while we were exploring:

Located in Crater Lake National Park (Reservations are necessary as both are very popular):

  1. Crater Lake Lodge: Located right in the Rim Village with amazing views of the lake.
  2. The Cabins at Mazama Village: Located 7 miles from the Rim Village
  3. Campgrounds located in the park. 

Located outside of Crater Lake National Park:

  1. Crater Lake Bed and Breakfast: Offers free dog sitting for those planning to travel to Crater Lake for the day. Located 15 miles from the South Entrance to the park.
  2. **Diamond Lake Resort: Dog Friendly Resort with various types of lodging including tent sites and cabins. Located 9 miles from park entrance. I will stay at this resort when I return to Crater Lake.

Dining: If you are driving from outside the area, you should plan to pick up sandwiches or a picnic lunch in one of the neighboring cities (Klamath Falls, Ashland, Medford, Roseberg). The Rim Village dining area has very limited, low quality meal options. If you are entering through the South Entrance, Annie Creek Restaurant at Mazama Village has some better options. We made the mistake of zooming right past this option as we thought it was gas station food and later found out they have some great options for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (and beer!)

Crater Lake


Easy Hikes:

  • Castle Crest: .5 miles, access from Steel Visitors Center
  • Godfrey Glen: 1.1 miles, access from 2.4 miles south of Park HQ. Dog friendly!
  • Plaikni Falls: 2 miles, access from Pinnacles Road.

Moderate Hikes:

  • Discover Point: 2 miles, access from west end of Rim Village.
  • Fumarole Bay: 1.7 miles, access from Wizard Island Dock. Only reachable by boat tour or shuttle from Cleetwood Cove.
  • Watchman Peak: 1.6 miles, access 3.8 miles from northwest of rim village.

Strenuous Hikes: 

  • Cleetwood Cove: 2.2 miles, access from North side of the lake, 11 miles from Rim Village.
  • Crater Peak: 6.5 miles, access from Vidae Falls picnic area.
  • Union Peak:  9.8 miles, access from hwy 162 at the PCT trail head.

Crater Lake

If you are not interested in hiking, there are many vista points around the rim trail where you can pullover to take pictures!

Other Useful Tips:

  • There is a $15.00 entrance fee per vehicle to Crater Lake National Park. If you plan to visit any other National Parks during the year of your visit, keep our receipt and you can use it as a credit towards the National Park Annual Pass (only $80!!).
  • Dress warm!  Even on a summer day, the park can be very cold due to its elevation. I would plan to wear pants and a light jacket or at least bring them along as an option. Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes!

Crater LakeCrater Lake

If you have time, be sure to check out Toketee Falls . An easy .8 miles hike to an awesome viewing platform of one of Oregon’s most famous waterfalls. There is also a very steep hike you can do to get down to the water, it can be dangerous as it does require some scrambling.


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