Adventure Guide

Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Winter at Crater Lake National Park

Here’s everything you need to know about winter at Oregon’s only national park.

Up to 750,000 visitors drive around the rim at Crater Lake National Park, spend a night at the park’s campgrounds, and hike its trails every year. The vast majority of those, however, arrive between June and September—when sunny skies reveal Crater Lake’s deep blue hue and most of the park’s attractions are snow-free. 

Winter, however, creates a whole new experience—where 42 feet of snow falls between November and April, covering the park in a picturesque blanket of white. Since much of the park is closed during this stretch, outdoor adventures take center stage. So if you’d like to make the easy, hour-long drive from Klamath Falls during the quiet season, here’s everything to know about visiting Crater Lake National Park in winter.


Snow Sports
National Parks



Go Sightseeing Around Rim Village

Gaze upon Crater Lake in all its snowy glory

On sunny winter days, Crater Lake's deep blue hue positively pops against the snowy surroundings and creates a colorful contrast. If you have a few free hours, it’s well worth your time to walk around Rim Village and admire the views.

Those with mobility impairments can take advantage of gently graded paved paths and three wheelchair-accessible overlooks to enjoy the views. Paths may be covered in snow but are generally well-maintained for visitor safety. Snowbanks across Rim Village may be steep and block lake views, so head to the third floor of Rim Café and Gift Shop—where an observatory room offers unobstructed Crater Lake views from above the snow.

Try Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing

Epic lake views and wintry forests await along snow-covered roads

When snow blankets the park’s roads, they turn into idyllic playgrounds for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. East Rim Drive takes outdoor enthusiasts away from the lake and into snowy forests, while West Rim Drive offers up-close views of Watchman Peak, Wizard Island, and other notable natural features.

Marked and unmarked routes are available, though none are groomed; check with a park ranger about conditions and recommended trails before heading out. Snowshoe rentals are available 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at Rim Café and Gift Shop.

Snowmobile to the Rim of Crater Lake

Groomed paths offer plenty of backcountry fun

Largely between December and March, Crater Lake's North Entrance Road is groomed for snowmobile use. From the park's North Junction on Rim Drive, snowmobilers may enjoy sweeping views of the lake and nearby peaks. Rentals and tours (for individuals and groups alike) are available from Odell Lake Lodge & Resort, which sits north of the park; trips begin at the lodge, traverse the forest’s snowy backcountry, and go as far as the Crater Lake rim for a full day of adrenaline-pumping fun.

Try Sledding on Small, Scenic Hillsides

Enjoy plenty of family fun on easy-to-access hillsides

Traveling with your family? Bring your sled, and hit the (gentle) slopes in the meadow south of Crater Lake Lodge—or on other small hills in the area. Sledding is not permitted along roads, in parking areas, or within the caldera—so a friendly park ranger is happy to provide suggestions for where to go and what’s accessible.

Take a Ranger-Led Snowshoe Tour

Learn about Crater Lake’s natural wonders while heading into its backcountry

Let a ranger lead you on an off-trail adventure through the park’s forests and meadows—with a stop at the lake’s rim; these Crater Lake snowshoe hikes—which include discussions of how plants and animals survive the region’s harsh winters—are typically offered Saturdays, Sundays, and most holidays in winter. Reservations are required—and can be made by calling the park at 541-594-3000; in recent years, staffing shortages have led to fewer tours, so be sure to call ahead to see if (or when) tours will be offered to help with trip planning.

What to Know About Crater Lake in Winter

Here’s how to prepare for a fun, memorable trip

Generally speaking, “winter” at Crater Lake lasts between November and April. So when the snow falls, keep these tips in mind for a safe, fun experience:

What’s open and closed: By winter, the only road in the park accessible to vehicles is the southern entrance road, which runs seven miles (one way) between Highway 62 and Rim Village on the lake’s southern rim; the northern entrance and 33-mile Rim Drive are both closed. Even then, snowstorms can close the southern entrance road while crews work to keep it plowed and safe. Check the official Crater Lake National Park website for updated road conditions and closures.

Park services: When the southern entrance road is open in winter, restrooms are available at Rim Village; look for the snow tunnels, which provide restroom access, near the Rim Café and Gift Shop. If you get hungry, the Rim Café and Gift Shop is the only place to purchase food in the park; there, you can pick up light bites, snacks, and beverages. 

Winter lodging at Crater Lake: In winter, all in-park lodgings and campgrounds are closed; if you’d like to spend the night nearby, browse our list of lodgings around Crater Lake and Klamath Falls that can provide a comfortable stay.

Plan ahead: Temperatures typically hover between 20ºF and 40ºF in winter—so layer up with apparel that’s appropriate for whatever activities you choose. Be sure to bring plenty of food and water, since options for both are limited within the park. And ensure your vehicle has snow chains or other traction devices that can help handle the winding road to Rim Village. Shortly before heading out, check the Crater Lake National Park webcam to see conditions around the park.

Things to Do Near Crater Lake in Winter

Here are a few more ideas for enjoying the snowy season

Crater Lake is undoubtedly a top winter attraction in Klamath County—but there’s plenty to love across our scenic region. Here are a few things to do in Klamath Falls and across the Cascade Range to inspire your next trip:

Winter Adventure at Klamath’s Lakes: Crater Lake isn’t the only lake in Klamath County; the likes of Odell Lake and Lake of the Woods Resort offer plenty of adventures—indoors and out—for a memorable trip. Learn more about winter at Klamath’s lakes.

Winter Adventures in Klamath County: There is no shortage of winter adventures around Klamath County—with activities that include ice-skating, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and even underground caving.

Klamath County’s Museums: If you’d rather stay inside and warm, learn about regional history at Klamath County museums. Fascinating exhibits cover Native American history in the region, our historic ties to the logging industry, and the area’s natural wonders.

Willamette Pass Resort: Go skiing or snowboarding at Willamette Pass Resort in the heart of the Cascade Range; there, 30 trails provide plenty of fresh powder to explore. In addition to more than 1,500 feet of vertical drop, the resort offers Nordic skiing trails, a terrain park, an on-site restaurant and lodge, and more.

Your Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding at Willamette Pass Resort

Klamath County is defined by its landscapes—from the forests and pastures around Klamath Falls to the dramatic blue hues of Crater Lake National Park. And at the far northwestern edge of our region, less than two hours from Klamath Falls, sits another beloved landscape: the dramatic slopes of Willamette Pass Resort at the summit of the Cascade Range.

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