Getting There & Gateways
There are three ways into Crater Lake National Park, the most convenient being from the west and south on Ore. 62, which runs through the southwest corner of the park.
To get to the park's west entrance, drive northeast from Medford 75 miles on Ore. 62.
To get to the park's south entrance from Klamath Falls, travel north on U.S. 97, then northwest on Ore. 62; the total distance is 60 miles.
To get to the park's summer-only north entrance from Roseburg, take Ore. 138 east; the total distance to Rim Drive is approximately 92 miles.
If you're arriving in winter, call park headquarters for road information (tel. 541/594-3000).
The Nearest Airports -- Area airports include Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (tel. 541/776-7222; www.co.jackson.or.us), in Medford, which is served by Allegiant Air, Delta, Horizon, and United, with car rentals from Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. The Klamath Falls Airport (tel. 541/883-5372; www.flykfalls.com) is served by United Airlines, and Budget, Enterprise, and Hertz offer car rentals.
Contact Crater Lake National Park, P.O. Box 7, Crater Lake, OR 97604 (tel. 541/594-3000; www.nps.gov/crla), for the free park guide, Crater Lake Reflections, which has a good summary of most of the park's trails, accommodations, and seasons. You can obtain a catalog of books and maps about the park from the Crater Lake Natural History Association, P.O. Box 157, Crater Lake, OR 97604 (tel. 541/594-3110; www.craterlakeoregon.org).
The park has two visitor centers. Steel Information Center, south of the lake off Ore. 62, is open daily year-round and contains the park headquarters. You can talk to a ranger, find out about local weather forecasts, pick up general park information, purchase books and maps, and watch an 18-minute film. The Rim Visitor Center is on the south side of the lake in Rim Village. It's open daily from June through September. Here you can obtain general park information, books, videos, and maps. In addition, a short paved trail leads from the visitor center to the Sinnott Overlook, which offers a fine view of the lake and several interpretive exhibits.
Fees & Permits
Entrance to the park costs $10 per vehicle. Camping in Mazama Campground is $21 per tent site and $27 to $29 per RV site. Camping in the Lost Creek Campground is $10 per site. Backcountry camping requires registration but no fee.
Special Regulations & Warnings
You may not climb into the caldera. After getting a view of some of the steep and sharp-looking volcanic boulders lining the trip down, you won't want to try. The only access to the lake is through the Cleetwood Cove Trail. Fire prevention is also a big concern in this park.
Seasons & Climate
Crater Lake basically has two seasons. The main tourist season lasts from mid-June, when most of the park's facilities open, through September. The busiest months are July and August. Summer temperatures in southern Oregon can be scorching, sometimes hovering near the 100°F (38°C) mark in the lower elevations. The upper elevations remain cooler; the lake's rim can get up to 80°F (27°C) in summer.
In the winter, snowfall averaging 44 feet a year buries the park, making it virtually impassable to everyone save skiers and snowshoers. Roads along the lake rim are left unplowed and are open to noncar travelers exclusively. The winter season generally includes fall and spring, stretching from late October to mid-June or even early July.
Avoiding the Crowds
It's hard to avoid crowds here when the snow is melted. Given the area's harsh winters, most visitors come during the relatively short "summer" season between late June and the end of September. Many day visitors drive some distance to the park, so the Rim Road is not crowded early in the morning. Circle the lake before 10am, and you can easily pick your overlook. The best advice is to stay longer than the single day that 90% of the visitors allot to the park. Once you've seen and appreciated the lake by car, take an early boat tour, but get an early start (the line for tickets usually starts forming by 8am), then go off and hike some of the less trampled paths. Several of the longer trails will lead you to fabulous, relatively uninhabited view points. Especially recommended are the Watchman Peak, Garfield Peak, and Mount Scott trails.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.