Crater Lake Road Trip
Crater Lake is one of Oregon's top natural wonders — and just three hours north of Eugene - Springfield. Every year it draws thousands of visitors to view its brilliant blue waters. It is the deepest lake in the U.S. and also one of the purest (Oakridge's Waldo Lake is another extremely pure lake), with visibility to 400 feet (122 m).
All around the lake is hiking, cycling and birding. A rigorous hike down to the water is rewarded with boat tours, swimming and fishing — but the hike back up is difficult — so be forewarned! In the winter there is snowshoeing.
The historic Crater Lake Lodge was built in 1915. Open seasonally, the lodge also includes a dining room offering three meals a day. The Lodge's Great Hall is an inviting place to relax and linger, or sit on the porch overlooking Crater Lake. There is a gift shop onsite and campgrounds and cabins available just outside the park in Mazama Village.
PREPARE FOR YOUR ROAD TRIP
You can rent a car or an RV locally. Nearby Junction City and Coburg have been RV community-hubs for decades, so there are plenty of resources. There are plenty of hotels and RV campgrounds in close proximity to the Interstate 5 corridor, downtown Eugene, and the Eugene Airport. While here, stock up on groceries, camp gear and maps.
HOW TO GET TO CRATER LAKE
Embark on a scenic road trip to Crater Lake! There are two ways to drive to Crater Lake from Eugene - Springfield, weather permitting, and since both are spectacular, we'll leave the delightful decision up to you.
The shortest route is along Highway 58 toward Oakridge. Jump right into the Cascades on a journey of mountain roads, waterfalls, woodsy hikes, hot springs and breathtaking views. Or roll along Interstate 5 toward Cottage Grove indulging in pastoral scenes, wine country and historic sites. At Roseburg, follow the Umpqua River into the mountains.
ENTERING THE PARK
There are no gas stations in Crater Lake National Park. The Mazama Camper Store in Mazama Village sells gasoline during the summer season but we recommend you fuel up in the small towns of Prospect (on OR-62 from Roseburg) or Chemult (on Hwy 97 from Oakridge).
For GPS use the coordinates 42° 53' 48.91"N 122° 08' 03.08"W (Steel Visitor Center), or try "Crater Lake" as a town or waypoint. There is no physical address. Mobile phone coverage is spotty within and around the park.
From the North (summer)
I-5/Cottage Grove/Roseburg - Route 138 east to the park's north entrance
Hwy 58/Oakridge - Route 97 south to Route 138 west to the park's north entrance
From the North (winter)
I-5/Cottage Grove/Roseburg - Route 138 east to Route 230 south to Route 62 east to the park's west entrance
Hwy 58/Oakridge - Route 97 south to Route 62 north and west to the park's south entrance
From the South (year-round)
Medford - Route 62 north and east to the park's west entrance
Klamath Falls - Route 97 north to Route 62 north and west to the park's south entrance. View the Annie Springs Entrance webcam.
CRATER LAKE F.A.Q.
How far is Crater Lake from Eugene?
Crater Lake is 128 miles (206 km) from Eugene, along Hwy 58. This is an approximate 2 1/2 hour drive, but with so many scenic sights and adventurous activities along the way, we recommend setting aside a full day and/or an overnight in the Oakridge - Wesfir vicinity.
What is the best way to get to Crater Lake?
This depends on the season, road conditions, and what sights or activities you'd like to see or do on your road trip. There are two routes from Eugene, Highway 58 and Interstate 5. We recommend consulting Trip Check, weather reports and other regional travel reports prior to departing.
What roads are open to Crater Lake?
Highway 62 and Munson Valley Rd (to Rim Village) are maintained year-round, incurring only brief weather-related closures. The West Rim Dr and the North Entrance Rd usually open for the summer season in June. The East Rim Dr and the Pinnacles Rd open by July. Road closures for winter season start in September. By mid-October all seasonal roads are typically closed. Check the road status and choose the best park entrance for current conditions.
Where are the closest gas stations?
There are no gas stations within Crater Lake National Park. During the summer gas is sold at the Mazama Camper Store in Mazama Village. During the rest of the year, the closest gas stations are in Prospect (on OR-62 from Roseburg) or Chemult (on Hwy 97 from Oakridge).
What permits or passes do I need for Crater Lake National Park? What's the cost of entrance?
A pass may be purchased at each park's entrance booth, the park visitor centers or online and are valid for seven days. Costs vary depending on season and the vehicle's carrying capacity. Detailed rates are listed on the Crater Lake website.
Special passes include the Crater Lake Annual Pass, the Annual Interagency Pass, the Annual Military Pass, the Senior Annual Pass, the Senior Lifetime Pass and the Access Interagency Pass. None of these passes are sold at our Visitor Center in Eugene, but they may be purchased at most Forest Service offices, including the Middle Fork Ranger Station on Hwy 58 enroute to Crater Lake.
Where are the Park's visitor centers?
There are two visitor centers. The Steel Visitor Center (541.594.3100) is located at Park Headquarters on Rim Dr, four miles (6.44 km) north of the Annie Spring entrance. It includes a Crater Lake film shown every 30 minutes, park exhibits and a post office. The center is open daily year-round, with shorter hours during the winter.
The Rim Visitor Center (541.594,3090) is in Rim Village on Crater Lake's south side on Rim Dr, seven miles (11.27 km) north of the Annie Spring entrance. It offers geology exhibits at the Sinnott Memorial Overlook. Restrooms are nearby. This center is open daily during the summer only, typically closed from October to May.
Where can I get the best view of Crater Lake?
The Sinnott Memorial Overlook is an easily accessible viewpoint which showcases the volcano's craggy features known as The Watchman, Hillman Peak, Devil's Backbone, Llao Rock, Palisades, Skell Head, Cloudcap, Sun Notch and Dutton Cliff. You can also see Mt Thielsen, Mt Scott; and Crater Lake's islands, Wizard Island and Phantom Ship. Find the paved path leading to the overlook behind the Rim Village Visitor Center.
Are there tours of Crater Lake?
There are two ways to enjoy a guided tour of Crater Lake during the summer season. The first is aboard one of three historic, San Fransisco-style trolleys encircling the lake clockwise along Rim Dr. The two-hour Crater Lake Trolley tour offers large picture windows, relatively comfortable seats, and periodic stops at points-of-interest for photo opportunities. Conducted by a park ranger, these tours help reduce road traffic and maximize visitors' ability to fully appreciate Crater Lake's unique beauty. Tickets are $25 per adult, $22 per senior and $15 per child between 5-13 years old.
The second option is a two-hour Volcano Boat Cruises around Crater Lake, some with a stop on Wizard Island. Morning Wizard Island passengers can disembark to explore, fish, or hike the Wizard Island Summit Trail (1.8 miles / 2.9 km round trip) and catch the afternoon boat tour back to the cove. The boat tours are only accessible by hiking the one mile (1.7 km) Cleetwood Cove Trail on the north side of Crater Lake. This trail is challenging, descending (and ascending on the return!) 700 ft (213.36 m). There is no water down at the cove, but there are composting toilets. Pack in extra water, food, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat and extra clothing layers as it may be significantly cooler near the lake surface on the boat. Boat tour tickets range from $35-45 per adult, $21-27 per child over age 2.
What is the best hiking trail?
The Mount Scott Trail is a favorite hike, climbing 2.5 miles(4.02 km) to the park's highest point. The reward is spectacular panoramic views.
Where can we eat in the park?
The Rim Village Cafe and Gifts serving soup, salads, sandwiches and snacks is open year-round with shorter hours during the winter. It is closed Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. The Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, a fabulous place to eat, is open daily mid-May to mid-October. It is closed all winter. Reservations are highly recommended.
At Mazama Village, just outside the park, there are two seasonal summer options: Annie Creek Restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; and the Mazama Village Camper Store. Both are closed during the winter.
Where can we stay in the park? Can we camp?
The rustically regal Crater Lake Lodge offers 70 rooms overlooking the lake. With on-site dining, spacious lobby and pleasant porches, this is a delightful place to stay. Seven miles (11.27 km) from Rim Village at the base of the park is Mazama Village. Just off Highway 62 at the Annie Springs entrance, Mazama Village includes 40 minimalistic cabins, roughly 200 campsites, RV parking with some RV hook-ups, and a camp store. All accommodations are open for the summer season only (typically May/June - September/October), and advance reservations are highly recommended. There are no campgrounds within Crater Lake National Park. Lost Creek Campground was closed due to budget cuts. Overnight backpacking requires a free permit obtainable at the Park Headquarters.
Can I ride my bicycle in the park?
Yes, in fact, cycling at Crater Lake is spectacular. Rim Dr is the best cycling route with 33 scenic miles (53.11 km). The eight mile (12.87 km), unpaved Grayback Dr is ideal for mountain biking. Uphill climbs make cycling challenging and best for experienced cyclists. Bicycles share the roads with traffic, often on roads without shoulders. Bicycles are not permitted on any park trails. Please be prepared for high altitudes and limited access to water. There is a $5 fee per bicycle to enter the park.
Are pets allowed in Crater Lake National Park?
Yes, pets are allowed in the park adherent to National Park pet guidelines. Please keep pets on a six foot (1.83 m) leash or crated at all times. Pets are okay on roads, parking lots, campgrounds and designated picnic areas but are not allowed on park trails or in the back-country. Please clean up after your pets.
What animals and birds are in the park?
This is a great place for birding or wildlife watching. However, please note that it is illegal and harmful to feed or interact with any of the park's natural inhabitants. Look for Bald eagles, ravens, jays and chickadees. Animals you may see include bears, elk, mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, porcupines, marmots, hares, squirrels and chipmunks.
Can we swim or fish at Crater Lake?
You can swim along the Cleetwood Cove shoreline. Open during the summer season only, Cleetwood Cove is accessible by a very steep and strenuous one mile (1.61 km) trail. The average surface water temperture warms up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.56 Celsius).
Fishing is also allowed at the cove and on Wizard Island as part of the boat tour. You do not need a license to fish here, and there is no limit on your catch since the both the Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon in the lake are not native. However, only artificial bait may be used to avoid introducing any additional foreign species into the Crater Lake habitat.
How was Crater Lake formed? What is its water source?
Mt Mazama blew its top 7,700 years ago creating a caldera. Over time it filled with water from rain and snow. The lake is not fed by a spring or stream.
What is the elevation of Crater Lake?
The lake's surface elevation is 6,178 ft (1,883 m).
How deep and wide is Crater Lake?
Crater Lake is 1, 943 ft (952 m) deep. It is the deepest lake in the United States and considered the ninth deepest in the world. It is approximately 5 by 6 miles (8 by 9.7 km) across.