Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the enchanting beauty of Crater Lake—the fifth national park in the United States. Our guide is your ultimate ticket to discovering this pristine landscape’s most mesmerizing viewpoints. Whether you’re an early riser chasing the soft glow of sunrise, an adventure enthusiast searching for unique angles, or a nature lover yearning to absorb every inch of this wonder, Crater Lake beckons. Get ready to extend your stay and explore every hidden corner, capturing breathtaking moments that will forever be etched in your memory.
Rise and shine! Rim Village is the place to be for those chasing the perfect sunrise shot. Morning is a great time to take in the views here (crowds typically arrive late-morning). Arrive early to secure a good spot and watch as the first rays of the sun illuminate the lake. The village also houses the park’s visitor center, making it a hub of information. Grab a coffee from the gift shop cafe and enjoy the serene morning ambiance.
Sinnott Memorial Overlook
Sinnott Memorial Overlook offers a classic view of Crater Lake just a short walk from the parking area. It’s a popular spot, especially between 10 AM and 3 PM. Start your day here to get the classic shot of the lake, the rim of the volcanic caldera, and the license-plate-perfect framing of Wizard Island. Linger here to learn more from the Ranger-led programs and interpretive displays that provide a deeper understanding of the lake’s formation and history.
Don’t miss this spot for some of the most stunning views of Crater Lake’s famously blue waters. This 1.6-mile round trip hike with a 420-foot elevation gain rewards you with stunning blue water views. The trail culminates at a fire lookout, offering a panoramic view of the lake and Wizard Island: the perspective here is especially great for viewing the turquoise-colored shallow water ringing the shore of the island. As you wind your way up to the peak, you’ll pass by a number of panoramic views of the park as well as the peaks of the surrounding Cascade Range.
CLEETWOOD COVE TRAIL
The 2.2-mile round trip Cleetwood Cove trail takes you right to the water, it’s the only way to get to the shore of Crater Lake. It’s a unique perspective; and if you’re up for it, you can even take a dip. The trail is steep but well-maintained, with resting benches strategically placed. The cove is also the departure point for boat tours, offering another lake perspective
CRATER LAKE LODGE
Looking for a more laid-back experience? Head to Crater Lake Lodge. Grab a local brew or a glass of Oregon wine and enjoy the view from the patio. The lodge itself is a historic building with rustic charm and a cozy atmosphere. Inside, the dining room offers locally sourced meals, making it a culinary delight after a day of exploration
The 4.4-mile round-trip hike to Mount Scott is a must for the more adventurous. It’s a bit challenging with 1,250 feet of elevation gain, but the panoramic view from Klamath County’s highest peak is worth every step. The trail winds through old-growth forests and meadows, bursting with wildflowers in the spring. On a clear day, you can see all the way up and down the Cascade range, even as far as California’s Mount Shasta.
Prefer to view the lake on a scenic cruise around the iconic Rim Drive? Cloudcap Overlook is a great stop to add to your auto tour. It’s the highest paved road in Oregon and offers expansive views of Crater Lake and its surroundings. The overlook provides interpretive signs detailing the geology of the area. It’s also a popular spot for sunset, with the colors reflecting beautifully on the lake.
Don’t forget: there’s more to see than just the lake! Located beyond the East Rim of the lake, a 2.0-mile round-trip hike with a 100-foot elevation gain leads you to one of Klamath’s most beautiful waterfalls, Plaikni Falls. The trail is relatively flat, making it family-friendly. The falls, surrounded by moss-covered rocks and lush vegetation, also provide a cool respite on hot summer days.
This 3.6-mile round trip hike with a 1,010-foot elevation gain offers views so wide that you can view both of the lake’s islands: Wizard Island and mysterious Phantom Ship. The trail offers a mix of forested sections and open meadows. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to increasingly expansive lake views. The peak is a great picnic spot, with some of the park’s prettiest panoramic vistas as your backdrop.
End your day with a 2-mile round trip evening stroll to Discovery Point, or take it easy and pull right-up to the viewpoint in your vehicle. In the summer, ranger-led talks delve into the mysteries of the night sky here. Keep a keen eye, it’s even possible to spot the Northern Lights here when conditions are just right. It's a peaceful spot, perfect for reflecting on your day's adventures.
Don’t miss a trip to the nearby Lava Beds National Monument. With over 900 lava tubes to explore, it’s a unique addition to your Crater Lake adventure. The monument is a testament to the region’s volcanic history. Guided tours offer insights into the formation and significance of these underground wonders