Hikes along the rim of Crater Lake National Park in Oregon are filled with many alluring beauties.  Once you trek far enough to get away from the camera-happy tourists near the Rim Village, you can really embrace the true beauty that is offered at Crater Lake.  Once an active volcano (Mount Mazama), this now-clear deep blue crater lake is 6 miles across and nearly 600 meters deep at its maximum depth (it’s the deepest lake in the U.S. and 9th deepest in the world).  With 100 miles of hiking trails offered in Crater Lake National Park there is plenty to explore and discover.

Crater Lake
Me Snowshoeing At Crater Lake Mid-March 2014
Photo Credit: Christina Allen

The park is located in Klamath County about 80 miles northeast of the city of Medford.  Crater Lake not only offers hiking opportunities but also boating (boat tour), scuba diving, historical information at the visitor center located at the Rim Village and a 33 mile Rim Drive around the crater (the main way most people enjoy the park).  But hiking is the best way to enhance your park experience.

With hikes ranging from easy to strenuous, there is a hike for everyone at this National Park.  (Here is a link to just some of the many hikes that are preserved by the park.) If you are a more serious hiker, there is also backcountry camping available.  Free permits are required for any hikers that wish to camp overnight (with snow camping, during winter seasons) in the backcountry.  Permits are issued by a park ranger at both of the park visitor centers during the hours of operation (10am – 4pm). Crater LakeThough free, there are strict rules and restrictions on backcountry park trails.  Rules and restrictions include: permits must be issued for all backcountry overnight stays; maximum party size of no more than 8 people; no pets; no smoking; camp must be 100 feet away from any water source or trail/road (tents and campsites can’t be seen from trails or roads); no camping in/near/on the caldera or rim of the caldera; and permits must be attached to the outside of tent while camping. Many more rules can be found at Crater Lake National Park Hiking/Backcountry camping rules and regulations.

Another important regulation is that there is no camping from Rim Village to Discovery Point.  Discovery Point is about 2.2 miles from Rim Village and the point where most tourists stop hiking (especially during the winter seasons when snow levels are high).  After this junction, if your campsite obeys all the rules and regulations of the park, you are free to set up camp.

Crater Lake
Backcountry Camping At Crater Lake National Park
Photo Credit: Mauri Fabio

If you are less outdoorsy but still have the desire to camp, there are 2 campgrounds inside Crater Lake National Park: Lost Creek (open mid-July to mid-September) and Mazama Campgrounds (open early June to mid-October).  There is a fee of $21 for tent sites and $27 for RVs (campgrounds and their rates).  Campground camping is a safer option for families with small kids and a more convenient way to enjoy the outdoors.

Regardless of how you choose to explore Crater Lake National Park there is something for everyone, whether it’s a one-day adventure or a multi-day excursion.  This National Park is beautiful and worth the drive.  With all the outdoor activities it is the perfect place for families and backpackers alike.

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