Crater Lake


Take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints. 

Please respect the park and the rangers.

Are you visiting Southern Oregon or the Rogue Valley and have Crater Lake on your bucket list? It is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime must see. We highly recommending spending as much time as possible in this magical place. Crater Lake is much more than a stopover to take fabulous pics - hiking, biking, sightseeing, and stargazing can all be done at this breathtaking location.


Hiking at Crater Lake national Park is some of the most breathtaking outdoor exploration you will ever do. There are many hiking trails within the park and you can find them all on their map or park brochure when you arrive.  Ideally, you have some time to explore this national treasure. If you are on a tighter schedule, you can enter the park and park right at Rim Village where you can walk right up to the edge of the lake for the picture perfect view. If you have time, explore these fan favorite hikes below for some instagram worthy photo locals.



From the National Park Website: 

Visitors are spellbound by Crater Lake’s blue color and mystified by its clarity. For most people, the lake’s beauty is appreciated from viewpoints around Rim Drive, but others desire a closer encounter. Some people want to fish from the shore and others plan to take a boat tour around the lake.  

Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only legal access to the shore of Crater Lake. Depending on snow conditions, the trail is usually open from mid-June to late October. Swimming, wading and fishing are permitted in the lake. The links to swimming, wading, and fishing provide important information regarding restrictions and personal safety.

Pets are not allowed on Cleetwood Cove Trail, in the lake, or unattended and tied to an object. If a pet is left in a vehicle and the conditions pose a threat to the animal’s health, a violation notice may be issued. Please seePets for more information. 

Cleetwood Cove Trailhead is located on East Rim Drive, 4.6 miles from North Junction (where North Entrance Road meets West Rim Drive). Access to the trail is dependent on road status and trail conditions. It opens on a different date each year after roads have been plowed and deemed safe for travel, and the trail has been assessed.

Trail Description 

Cleetwood Cove Trail is a steep and strenuous hike. In 1.1 miles (1.7 km) the trail drops 700 feet (213 meters) in elevation through a series of long switchbacks. The trail surface is crushed pumice, which is similar to fine sand, and when it is dry, the pumice is loose and slippery under foot. The trail is only partially shaded. There are a few benches that you are strongly encouraged to use while taking in the views. Vault toilets are located in the trailhead parking lot and at the lakeshore. 

Staying on the trail protects the surrounding fragile vegetation, and helps to maintain the trail's integrity.
Going off trail can dislodge rocks and cause loose soil to tumble onto other visitors, resulting in injuries.

Ok, So You Made It Down the Trail

Walking up the trail is comparable to climbing 65 flights of stairs. Given the steepness, also consider the elevation, air temperature, air born trail-dust, and smoke if there are local wildfires. All of these can adversely affect your ability to ascend Cleetwood Cove Trail. It is best to make frequent rest stops, drink water, eat a snack, and enjoy the views.

You are strongly encouraged to know and accept your fitness level and physical limitations.
Understand that walking down the trail is only half of the experience.

Swimming and Wading

Swimming and wading in the lake, especially on a hot summer day, can be refreshing and even a bit chilling. During summer the average surface temperature of the lake is 57degrees (14 degrees Celsius). Only bathing suits and basic clothing may be worn in the water. Please read the section below regarding of protection of the lake and what not to bring. Have warm, dry clothing available to immediately put on after being in the lake.

Swimming is only allowed within 100 yards of Cleetwood Cove and within 100 yards of Wizard Island, provided that swimmers remain at least 50 feet away from any boat, boat dock or buoy.

What to Bring

Regardless of how long you anticipate staying lakeside, or what your reason is for hiking down the trail, bring these items with you:

— water or any non-caffeinated drinks
— your favorite energy snack
— sturdy shoes not flip flops or sandals
— walking sticks or trekking poles are supportive to knees and back
— warm, dry clothes to wear after being in the water
— sunscreen and/or sun protective clothing and a hat

Wheeled devices for transporting people or equipment are prohibited on Cleetwood Cove Trail.

What Not To Bring

To protect the clarity of the lake and decrease the possibility of introducing invasive species these items are not allowed in the lake:

Smoking and vaping are prohibited on Cleetwood Cove Trail, the boats, Cleetwood boat dock and docking facilities including Wizard Island boat dock and boathouse facilities. 


Garfield Peak Trail is a 3.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Crater Lake, Oregon that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. 

All trails says this is the one of the most popular hiking trails in Crater Lake with close proximity to the Rim Village and Crater Lake Lodge. There are spectacular panoramic views of the entire lake and other high cascades features to the north and to the south the Klamath Basin and southern Cascade features.This short steep hike leaves the parking lot of Crater Lake Lodge and immediately heads uphill. Stick with it for a half mile or so and you will be rewarded with views of the lake - and they only get better as you climb! 

The trail leads eastward contouring the ridge above Crater Lake. The track turns northward one half mile from the trailhead and begins to climb. It ascends the northwestern ridge of Garfield Peak then turns eastward. Gaining the northern ridge crest the route continues to climb to the 8,060-foot summit. Views from this lofty peak south of Crater Lake include the lake, Phantom Ship and terrain south. There is a good path to the top, but, be prepared for a difficult climb along this trail.

Annie Creek Canyon Trail is a 2.1 mile loop trail located near Chiloquin, Oregon that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round.  This is a short a sweet trail in the shade and follows the creekside. You have great chances of wildflower and wildlife spotting on this trail in the spring and summer months. 

Crater Peak Trail is a 7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Crater Lake, Oregon that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from March until October. The views from this peak are jaw- dropping, Instagram stunning and something you will never forget. Talk about being on top of the world. 



The Rim Drive is a 33-mile road around the lake with over 30 pull outs which offer awesome views of Crater Lake’s volcanic scenery. The drive takes about 2-3 hours, and it’s one of America’s most scenic byways. The full loop is usually open from early July to late October. 

1. Discovery Point
In 1853, it was near this spot that gold prospector John Hillman became the first European-American to stumble across what he called “Deep Blue Lake.”

2.Watchman Overlook
This pullout offers amazing views of Wizard Island, a cinder cone that erupted out of Crater Lake over 7,300 years ago. To find the pullout, drive 3.8 miles west of Rim Village and look for a viewpoint lined with wood fences.

3. Cloudcap Overlook
This overlook is located at the end of a 1-mile spur road, the highest paved road in Oregon.

4. Pumice Castle Overlook
See one of the park’s most colorful features — a layer of orange pumice rock that was eroded into the shape of a medieval castle. Watch for the unmarked viewpoint, located 1.1 miles west of the Cloudcap Overlook junction.

5. Phantom Ship Overlook
Crater Lake’s “other island” is hard to spot. While it resembles a small sailboat, the island is the size of a 16-story building! It’s made of erosion-resistant lava and is 400,000 years old —  the oldest exposed rock within the caldera.

6. Pinnacles Overlook
The Pinnacles are “fossil fumaroles” where volcanic gases once rose up through a layer of volcanic ash, cementing the ash into solid rock.

7. Vidae Falls
Look for this cascading waterfall between Phantom Ship Overlook and park headquarters. A spring-fed creek tumbles over the glacier-carved cliff.


The most common animals observed around Rim Drive are golden-mantled ground squirrels, Canada jays and an assortment of butterflies and bees. 

Black bear sightings are more common in autumn and late spring when animals are waking up or getting ready to hibernate. American marten, snowshoe hare, and Douglas squirrel tracks are abundant in the winter snow. Melting snow and changing temperatures signal animal migrations, hibernation and seasonal foraging.  

While these animals are commonly observed along Rim Drive and popular trails, visiting other areas might provide better opportunities to enjoy the sights and sounds of a wider variety of wildlife. Animals—amphibians, birds, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles and fish—may be more prominent around some of the unique and less visited landscapes of Crater Lake National Park such as Sphagnum Bog, Union Peak, Panhandle, Boundary Springs, and Desert Creek Research Natural Area. 

For a complete list of species in the park, see NPS species page.


Each year, increasing numbers of cyclists come to Crater Lake National Park to ride around the lake on the physically demanding, 33 mile (53 km) Rim Drive. Steep hills at high elevation may encourage even the most fit riders to pause at many of the road's thirty overlooks and pull-outs. The payoff however is spectacular scenery, viewed at a pace that few visitors choose to take enough time for. (NPS)

Two Saturdays a year East Rim Drive is closed to vehicle traffic, allowing bicyclists and pedestrians an opportunity to enjoy 24 miles (39 km) of scenic roadway without vehicle noise and traffic. For more information, visit the official website of the “Ride the Rim” event.

Also be sure to view the alerts and conditions of the park when you are planning to visit. 


Crater lake Crater lake is listed by the National Park Service Dark Sky team as among the top ten dark sky location in the national park system. If you are staying overnight, it is a sight you won't want to miss. We promise you that.

Stargazing is best on nights without cloud cover or on a full moon. The stars are so numerous and so bright, they are countless. The Milky Way is a stunning site and something everyone should experience at least once. 

For an in depth look into the history of stargazing at the park, check out the Crater lake Institute.  

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