Crater Lake National Park in Oregon
Plan your vacation or day trip to Crater Lake, one of America's national parks not far from Bend, Oregon
In the mood for a scenic road trip starting in Bend, Oregon and ending in one of the most pristine national parks on earth? Crater Lake National Park features towering cliffs, stunning volcanic islands, and water so shockingly blue, you’ll stand blinking in the sun trying to clear your vision in case the whole thing is one big, beautiful mirage.
Where is Crater Lake National Park
Located two hours, eight minutes, and thirty four seconds from Bend (give or take), Crater Lake is an incredible must-see day trip from your Bend home base. At 1,943-feet deep, it’s the deepest lake in the United States, and the seventh deepest in the world. Crater Lake formed when Mt. Mazama erupted approximately 7,700 years ago in a massive volcanic eruption. Then the whole thing collapsed on itself, creating a big hole that eventually filled with water to become the amazing lake you see today.
What to Do at Crater Lake National Park in the Winter or Summer
You can visit Crater Lake any time of year, though some of the roads and facilities are closed during the winter when the area gets an average of 44 feet of snow. But all that snow makes it a great time to enjoy Crater Lake’s popular ranger-guided snowshoe walks between November and April. The walks last 2 hours and a mile of moderately strenuous terrain, exploring forests and meadows along the rim of Crater Lake. You can also bring snowshoes from home, or your cross country skis and set out exploring on your own. The park's north entrance is closed during the winter months, but the national park can still be accessed by using the southern entrance.
Summertime is the most popular season for visiting Crater Lake, and for good reason. Hiking, camping, fishing, picnicking, swimming - and even scuba diving - are popular pastimes in the warmer months, and the lake makes an incredible backdrop for family reunions. Keep in mind the season is short, generally spanning from June until the first snowfall in September. The average lake temperature below 300-feet is a chilly 38-degrees, but the surface can warm to 55 or 60-degrees during the summer months. There’s only one spot where it’s safe and legal to access the lake shore for swimming. The Cleetwood Cove Trail opens mid to late June, is 1.1 miles long, and drops nearly 700 feet to the shoreline where you can safely swim in the chilly water. If you dare, dive into the crystal clear lake water from the 20-foot rock ledge, which has become a ritual for many brave swimmers.
Crater Lake Lodging
Crater Lake lodging is fairly limited when it comes to hotels and lodging so many visitors choose to stay at hotels and motels in nearby Bend, the largest city closest to Crater Lake National Park. The historic Crater Lake Lodge is the only Oregon hotel located within the national park and it fills quickly. Camping, RV sites and cabins are available seven miles from the lake rim, near the south entrance, at Mazama Village Campground and RV Park.
Whether you are on vacation in Bend or taking a road trip across Oregon, plan a day to explore one of the nation's most stunning national parks.
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