Camping in Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake: Where to Camp and What To Do

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In September, Heath and I finally visited Crater Lake. This is the third time I’ve added it to our travel map, but this time we made it happen! I’ve wanted to go to Crater Lake ever since science class back in elementary school when we learn what a caldera was. (It’s probably no secret at this point that I am a huge nerd.)

To document the experience, Heath and I created our first vlog!

[blog + video = vlog]

To see our shenanigans, including proof that Heath is awesome and brings me coffee in bed every morning (key to marital success, by the way), watch the video:


Where We Camped:

Mazama Village (southern Crater Lake NP)

  • Only open during the summer months
  • $31 for RV site with no hook ups
  • Campground typically fills by the afternoon

Thousand Springs Sno Park

We’re from Texas, so we didn’t know what sno parks were. They are parks for snow mobiles. Gosh, the north is so cool.

And since the parks are only used in the winter, you can camp in their large parking lots from April-November. Woo hoo!

From the southern entrance of the park, there are two sno parks (one to the east, one to the west) where you can camp free, if the campground is full.

Where We Hiked:

Discovery Point

Roundtrip: 2.0 miles

Time: 1 hour

Worth it? This trail along the rim of Crater Lake gives amazing views of the water. Plus as a bonus, since it’s a rim trail, there’s that constant fear of falling over the edge into the freezing cold lake.

Sun Notch Trail

Roundtrip: 0.8 miles loop trail

Time: 30 minutes

Worth it? This hike offers great views of Phantom Ship, a rock formation in the water that literally looks like a pirate ship. If you’re looking for a super easy hike with great views, totally worth it.

Watchman Peak

Roundtrip: 1.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 420 feet

Time: 1 hour

Worth it? Absolutely! Granted, it was beyond windy & we were getting over being sick, so this hike completely wiped us out. However, the steep climb does boast some incredible views of the lake and mountains. If you’re in any kind of shape, you can handle this moderate hike.

Fun Fact: “Hike may be closed until mid-July due to snow.” Crater Lake is crazy with its winter weather.

Mount Scott

I joke in the vlog about hiking Mount Scott, the highest point in the park, even though we are sick. It’s a 4.4 mile hike (roundtrip) with a 1,250 foot elevation gain. I would’ve died.

Best Time to Visit:

Summer! It was FREEZING when we visited (as you saw in the video) and Crater Lake is known for snowfall year round. Plan on visiting in the summer months for the best weather, plus a chance to ferry out to Wizard Island.

Quick Facts:

  • Park established: 1902
  • Size: 183,000 acres
  • Visitors last year: 615,000
  • Lake depth: 1,943 feet
  • Lake width: 4.5 to 6 miles
  • Annual snowfall: 43 feet
  • Elevation: 6000-8929 feet

We loved our brief trip to the park, and wish we could’ve stayed longer…but not that much longer because it was seriously cold.

10 Responses

  • Great post wifey. I love you :). Is it weird to be lovey dovey on our blog? Not sure if other people would appreciate that. Either way, this looks great!

  • Great video – but I hate to tell you that you have decided upon an incorrect definition of “Sno Park” for the great State of Oregon. As a resident and skier in Oregon for 30 years, I will tell you that you must PURCHASE a Sno Park permit for the rights to park in Sno Park Lots! A pass may be purchased for one night or a season – if you plan to visit more than a day or two in the mountains, a season pass is the best deal. Your purchase goes to fund the cost of snow removal in the parking lots and highways. It’s kind of a way of taxing only the people who use the recreation areas of the mountains for the cost of keeping the roads and parking lots free of snow.

    • Interesting. The national park staff informed us we could park there for free, and the signage said the same!

      • Maybe because it was only September? I will confess that since my husband was a high school football coach, our trips to the mountains didn’t start until November. There is not normally much snow in the mountains by September – except at Crater Lake!

        • Ah, I see what you were saying. Yes, the signs said that during off season you could camp overnight. I’m sure it’s very different for when it’s snow season!

          • Well, I’m certainly happy that we’ve solved that! BTW-as a new full-timer in my RV, I have REALLY enjoyed reading your posts – and learning from them! My husband and I RV’d for years – he took care of the “outside” and I took care of the inside. Since he passed away last July, I’m now the full-time keeper of both sides of the door. It’s a rapid learning curve, but so far, I haven’t broken anything – lots of questions, but I didn’t break anything!

          • Wow, I’m so sorry for your loss! We have the same set up now and I’m always thinking that taking care of the outside seems like a lot of work. Not breaking anything is a big plus! 🙂

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