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Crater Lake National Park

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

One of the largest lakes in the country, Crater Lake is an unforgettable destination that offers endless adventures! Crater Lake has plenty to offer travelers during the summer and winter months. With endless hiking trails that offer gorgeous views of the surrounding alpine backcountry, Crater Lake is a place you’ll want to explore with friends and family year round!

ABOUTcrater lake winter THE PARK

Crater Lake, located in the southern region of Oregon, fills part of a 2,000+ foot caldera that was formed over 7,000 years ago. The formation was caused by the volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama, an eruption that was 42 times greater than the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980. During the eruption, the summit of Mount Mazama was destroyed, reducing its height by a mile. Most of the former volcano dropped into the volcano’s neck and was destroyed in the magma chamber.

Crater Lake has a depth of almost 2,000 feet which makes it the deepest lake in the United States and the 10th deepest lake worldwide. Crater Lake is well known for its fresh, supremely clear water. Impressively, without any rivers feeding water into the lake, the lake water is only replenished by rain and snowfall. It takes about 250 years for all of the water to evaporate and recycle back into the lake.


Crater Lake is home to a variety of bird and amphibian species. While touring some of the lake’s small islands, visitors often see the violet-green swallow darting from tree to tree. Some of the slimy creatures living in Crater Lake National Park include the Western Toad, the Long-toed Salamander, and the Pacific Tree Frog.

Another ecological feature of Crater Lake is the aquatic moss that calls the park its home. Most commonly found near Wizard Island, some of the dead moss underlying the living moss is thousands of years old. An odd assortment of tube-like holes and depressions can be found on the surface of the dead moss. However, the process that creates these formations is unknown.


In the summertime, preferred activities involve hiking the trails, ranger-guided lectures and programs, boat tours across the lake, trolley tours, swimming and fishing. During the summer, areas like Wizard Island are open for exploration. Summer temperatures stay in the 70’s most days, and enter the 80’s during August. The Steel Visitors Center is open year-round, but the Rim Visitors Center is closed from October to May as is the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room.


Garfield Peak

One of the more popular trails, Garfield Peak is located nearby Crater Lake Lodge and follows along the rim of the lake. With some of the most phenomenal views of the Crater Lake and all its stunning features, as well as colorful, alpine wildflowers, Garfield Peak is open from July to October, a moderate 3.4 mile hike round trip.

Grizzly Peak

With incredible views of the Rogue Valley, Ashland, Diamond Peak, Mt McLoughlin, Mt Shasta and spectacular wildflower displays, Grizzly Peak is a hike you can’t miss. The hike is 5 miles long and leads through a forest filled with Douglas fir, grand fir and cedar trees.

Indigo Lake

An easy, 4 mile round trip hike, the Indigo Lake Trail leads through old trees and high mountain meadows before winding up at Indigo Lake with vigorously blue waters.

Rouge Gorge

A majestic area to explore, there are numerous trails that lead hikers on a tour around Rogue River. In one spot, the river darts underground and flows through a long lava tube, with a natural bridge crossing over its surface.

Plaikni Falls

A quick 2 mile round trip hike with an elevation gain of only 135 feet, this hike leads to a peaceful waterfall that drains into a creek surrounded by beautiful flowers.

Toketee Falls

This quick 1 mile hike offers views of Douglas fir, red-cedar, big leaf maple, Pacific yew. There is a two-tiered waterfall that descends 80 feet. Hikers will also catch a glimpse of the North Umpqua River.


All boat tours leave from a dock that requires a 1 mile hike through Cleetwood Trail which includes a 700 foot drop. Boat cruises operate daily from the end of June to the middle of July. Visitors can choose between the Standard Cruise and the option to stop off at Wizard Island and enjoy panoramic views of the lake. Some of the most popular Crater Lake features are listed below.

Old Man of the Lake

“Old Man of the Lake” is a tree stump that has been bobbing in Crater Lake since the 1800’s. The stump is 30 feet long, floating 4 feet above the water. Once a full-sized tree beneath the water of Crater Lake, the wood’s decomposition was slowed due to low water temperatures. However, the wood above the water’s surface has been bleached white from exposure to the elements.

Wizard Island

Wizard Island, a volcanic cinder cone on the west side of the Crater Lake, stands at about 700 feet above the lake’s surface. The Island was formed after the eruption of Mount Mazama, from a series of smaller eruptions that occurred over the next few hundred years.

Phantom Ship

Named for its eery similarities to a ghost ship which are only emphasized on a foggy day. Phantom Ship is another small island located in Crater Lake. The island is made of a volcanic rock 400,000 years old. Though the island is small, there are 7 different trees living on its surface.


Tour Crater Lake National Park on one of three historically designed trolleys. Each tour is led by a guide who provides information about the different features of Oregon’s only national park. All trolleys are environmentally friendly!


Crater Lake National Park is open during the winter season, but access is limited. From November until April, visitors can enjoy ranger-guided snowshoe hikes, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Winter temperatures are around 35 degrees Fahrenheit with anywhere from 3 to 10 foot deep snowfall.

Up until the end of April, visitors are invited to participate in free ranger-led snowshoe walks to explore the icy winter wonderland. Snowshoes are free to use during the walk. You can also rent snowshoes and poles to hike some of the snowshoe trails on your own. Meanwhile, snowmobilers can enjoy a 10-mile ride across a marked trail that leads to an incredible lake overlook.

Mazama Loop and West Rim Drive are considered the easiest trails and most popular since they provide beautiful views of the lake as well as several overlooks that peer onto Wizard Island or the Cascade Volcanoes. East Rim Driver and Hemlock loop are the intermediate trails with a 1,000 foot drop through the woods to the Pacific Crest Trail. For an advanced trail try Raven Trail, Lightning Springs or Dutton Creek Trail with a 1,000 foot drop through the woods to the Pacific Crest Trail.

Crater Lake offers fun for the whole family, whether you visit in summer or during the icy, white months of winter. Boat tours, hiking trails and trolley tours give you an endless number of ways to explore the gorgeous natural features of Crater Lake. Book your trip today. You’ll be glad you did!

Crater Lake Winter: Cross Country Skiing Adventure

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Some may not know that Crater Lake National Park is a celebrated winter destination. Crater Lake winter is not only gorgeous, but bustling with outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the snow covered terrain. The Diamond Lake Lodge is open all year and provides a warm place to spend your downtime between wintery adventures. The Diamond Lake Lodge is five miles north of Crater Lake on another pristine lake called Diamond Lake. This lodge is a full-blown resort offering a long list of winter activities for guests of all ages.

Crater Lake winter guests to The Diamond Lake Lodge spend their time snowmobiling, sledding/tubing, ice-skating and cross country skiing. Guided and unguided snowmobiling tours are also available. 60 miles north are downhill skiing resorts for skiers and snowboarders. The Diamond Lake Lodge has an almost 90 year long history of providing shelter from the storm. Take this fun story from the past as an example.

In 1948, a young man named Jack Meissner, 28 years old and already a war veteran, decided to set out on a 300-mile solo adventure on cross-country skis. He announced his lofty and dangerous plan to the world to which he received plenty of criticism for his dangerous ambition. The CAP (Civil Air Patrol) and the Willamette Ski Patrol studied the planned route with Meissner before the grand departure. The CAP planned to make a supply drop for Meissner at a Forest Service shelter along the way. A Eugene outdoors group called The Obsidians offered the use of trained carrier pigeons, Homer and Cynthia, to communicate his condition from the isolated trail. Meissner was a woodsman, trapper, back country guide and serviceman. He was determined and prepared.

Crater Lake Winter

Crater Lake Winter photo by ex_magician on Flickr

Jack Meissner set out from Mt. Hood’s Government Camp on Friday the 13th of February, 1948 aboard his cross-country skis. Meissner’s finish line was Crater Lake National Park. His pack weighed in at about 55 lbs. It contained everything he would need along the way, aside from the supplies that would be dropped for him later. Meissner planned to travel 10 miles a day for 300 miles of fresh tracks at elevations ranging from 4,000-10,000 feet. And, for the most part, that is just what he did.

1948 went on the books as one of the harshest and coldest winters with the most snowfall in many years. Meissner traded work at various stops along the way in exchange for room and board where it was available, which was seldom. The last half of his route was quite secluded. On one stormy day, he fell into a deep and snowy ravine and had to rescue himself by making ledges out of his skis where he climbed one step at a time out of the trouble.

Those waiting for Jack’s return had no way of knowing if he had made it to the supply drop, because the pigeons, Homer and Cynthia had not returned to Eugene. The normal travel time from the pigeon drop-zone was three hours as the crow flies, or pigeons in this case. The storms and blizzards were a life threatening obstacle for the feathered pair as well as for Meissner. The Obsidians knew that Homer was slower and held Cynthia back. The pigeons were feared dead as they were many days late. Then, to their surprise, Cynthia returned with a note on her leg indicating that Meissner had gotten at least as far as the pigeon drop-zone. Homer, was proclaimed lost until he also made it home four days after Cynthia. Still, with the harsh weather conditions and heavy snowfall, Meissner’s current condition was unknowable.

Crater Lake Winter

Crater Lake Winter photo by Tracy Vierra on Flickr

As it turned out, he successfully found the dropped supplies from the CAP and he also managed to locate the pigeons to attach the note to Cynthia’s leg. He skied into the Diamond Lake Lodge where he warmed up by the fire and traded his room and dinner for shoveling snow. In eight hours, it snowed as many as 10 inches in the Crater Lake area causing a power outage to most of Klamath County. He had his shoveling work cut out for him. In the morning, he set out for Crater Lake National Park where his journey would come to a relieved and triumphant close one week later.

The end of this adventure story finds Jack Meissner a celebrated outdoorsman who was the first and last person to attempt such a feat. Crater Lake National Park was the 25th and final campsite of Jack Meissner’s 300-mile journey on cross country skis from Mt. Hood. He accomplished this in 33 total skiing days with 20 days scattered in-between where he did work trades and waited out storms for a total of 53 days from start to finish.

To this day, The Diamond Lake Lodge provides comfort for many Crater Lake winter guests. Spend the holidays at The Diamond Lake Lodge for a full resort experience. Give the professionals at US Park Lodging a call, toll free, to secure your Crater Lake winter reservations at the Diamond Lake Lodge.