Best Time to Visit Crater Lake National Park – Located in a remote area of southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park is a breathtaking destination with limited facilities however unrivaled appeal and history. Oregon’s only National forest, Crater Lake is busiest from July through mid-September when the weather agrees with and the whole park is open.
This year our weather stayed unseasonably nice through October, so we chose to make the most of a 3 day weekend and took pleasure in a shoulder-season vacation.
Checking out the region in the off months can offer a journey loaded with activities with considerably smaller sized crowds. Naturally, you will still wish to inspect weather and roadway conditions if you plan on visiting during this time, as big parts of the park, including the “should do” Rim Drive close due to snow. The park receives a typical 44 feet per year!
- Seasons, Weather, and Climate
- Avoiding the Crowds
- Planning a Trip to Crater Lake
Seasons, Weather, and Climate
Crater Lake generally has two seasons. The primary tourist season lasts from mid-June, when the majority of the park’s centers open, through September. The busiest months are July and August. Summer season temperatures in southern Oregon can be scorching, often hovering near the 100 ° F( 38 ° C) mark in the lower elevations.
The upper elevations stay cooler; the lake’s rim can get up to 80 ° F( 27 ° C) in summer. In the winter, snowfall averaging 44 feet a year buries the park, making it virtually impassable to everybody conserve skiers and snowshoers. Roadways along the lake rim are left unplowed and are open to noncar tourists specifically. The winter season normally includes fall and spring, stretching from late October to mid-June or perhaps early July.
The National Weather Service supplies the most precise weather forecast for the park.
During periods of rain and snow, the lake is typically hidden by clouds. Crater Lake is completely unnoticeable about 50% of the time in the winter! To find out if the lake is visible today, view our web cam at Rim Town.
For existing weather observations (temperature level, wind speed, and snow depth at Park Head office), visit the site that hosts our weather station information.
Winters at Crater Lake are long and snowy. Storms from the Pacific Ocean discard approximately 43 feet (13 meters) of snow at Park Headquarters. The park’s remarkable snowfall is an outcome of its position at the crest of the Cascade Mountains.
Summers at Crater Lake are brief however typically warm. July, August, and September are your best options for warm, dry weather. However, it can snow any day of the year.
In May, June, and October, warm days alternate with durations of rain and snow.
Data is from Park Head office, 1931-2015.
Avoiding the Crowds
It’s tough to prevent crowds here when the snow is melted. Given the area’s extreme winters, most visitors come during the reasonably brief “summer” season in between late June and completion of September. Lots of day visitors own some distance to the park, so the Rim Road is not crowded early in the early morning.
Circle the lake before 10am, and you can easily pick your neglect. The very best advice is to stay longer than the single day that 90% of the visitors allot to the park. When you have actually seen and valued the lake by car, take an early boat trip, however get an early start (the line for tickets generally begin forming by 8am), then go off and trek a few of the less trampled paths.
Numerous of the longer trails will lead you to fabulous, reasonably uninhabited view points. Specifically suggested are the Watchman Peak, Garfield Peak, and Mount Scott routes.
The park is open year-round, 24 Hr a day. However much of the park’s roadways, routes, and facilities are closed seasonally due to snow. Visit our present conditions page to discover what’s open in the park today.
Seasonal Road Closures
Crater Lake is among the snowiest occupied places in the USA. Each winter, deep snow forces us to close the park’s Rim Drive and North Entrance to vehicles. Rim Own becomes a trail for snowboarding and snowshoeing. The North Entrance road ends up being a snowmobile path. These roads close for the season with the first huge October snowstorm, or on November 1, whichever comes first.
Opening the Park’s Roadways
We start raking closed roadways in mid-to-late April. However it takes a long time to open them up; there are no set dates. Check out the process of “spring opening” here. In basic, opening dates depend on winter snow totals, however other aspects (like devices breakdowns) contribute.
The North Entrance and West Rim Drive can open as early as mid-May and or as late as the end of June. The East Rim Drive opens sometime between mid-June and late July.
In 2017, opening dates will likely be later than normal due to an above-average snowpack. In past years with similar snow totals, the West Rim Drive and North Entrance have actually opened in mid-June, and the East Rim Drive has opened in mid-July.
Planning a Trip to Crater Lake
Arriving & Gateways
There are three methods into Crater Lake National forest, the most practical being from the west and south on Ore. 62, which goes through the southwest corner of the park.
To obtain to the park’s west entryway, drive northeast from Medford 75 miles on Ore. 62.
To get to the park’s south entryway from Klamath Falls, travel north on U.S. 97, then northwest on Ore. 62; the total distance is 60 miles.
To get to the park’s summer-only north entryway from Roseburg, take Ore. 138 east; the overall range to Rim Drive is roughly 92 miles.
If you’re showing up in winter, call park head office for road information (tel. 541/594 -3000).
The Nearest Airports -Location airports include Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (tel. 541/776 -7222; www.co.jackson.or.us), in Medford, which is served by Allegiant Air, Delta, Horizon, and United, with car leasings from Avis, Budget plan, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. The Klamath Falls Airport (tel. 541/883 -5372; www.flykfalls.com) is served by United Airlines, and Budget plan, Enterprise, and Hertz offer vehicle leasings.
Contact Crater Lake National Park, P.O. Box 7, Crater Lake, OR 97604 (tel. 541/594 -3000; www.nps.gov/crla), for the free park guide, Crater Lake Reflections, which has a good summary of the majority of the park’s routes, lodgings, and seasons. You can acquire a catalog of books and maps about the park from the Crater Lake Nature Association, P.O. Box 157, Crater Lake, OR 97604 (tel. 541/594 -3110; www.craterlakeoregon.org).
The park has 2 visitor centers. Steel Information Center, south of the lake off Ore. 62, is open day-to-day year-round and consists of the park headquarters. You can talk with a ranger, discover regional weather forecasts, get general park information, purchase books and maps, and enjoy an 18-minute film.
The Rim Visitor Center is on the south side of the lake in Rim Village. It’s open daily from June through September. Here you can get general park information, books, videos, and maps. In addition, a brief paved path leads from the visitor center to the Sinnott Overlook, which provides a great view of the lake and several interpretive displays.
Fees & Permits
Entrance to the park costs $10 per car. Camping in Mazama Campground is $21 per camping tent site and $27 to $29 per RV website. Camping in the Lost Creek Camping site is $10 per site. Backcountry camping requires registration but no fee.
Special Regulations & Warnings
You might not climb into the caldera. After getting a view of a few of the high and sharp-looking volcanic stones lining the trip down, you will not want to attempt. The only access to the lake is through the Cleetwood Cove Trail. Fire avoidance is likewise a huge issue in this park.
Where to Stay
Lodging is incredibly restricted around Crater Lake National forest. Within the park itself are Crater Lake Lodge, The Cabins at Mazama Village, Mazama Camping area and Lost Creek Campground.
Crater Lake Lodge matches the splendor of a lot of the old, historical National forest lodges. Originally opened in 1915, it spent years in disrepair due to poor building. The lodge was totally re-engineered and redesigned in 1994 but its initial appeal remains intact. Spaces here are little, expensive and book up quick, if you have dreams of staying here, plan accordingly.
The Cabins at Mazama Town are standard but tidy. They have queen beds and full restrooms with stall showers and electricity. The two closest lodging options beyond the park remain in Union Creek, which is 25 miles west of the park and Fort Klamath, which is 25 miles south.
We decided to stay at The Aspen Inn in Fort Klamath, as we thought the kids would get a kick out of remaining in among the A-Frame cabins there-and we were right. I also suggest the Union Creek Resort. They have 23 cabins of differing sizes, all of which have actually been or are in the process of being remodeled.
The cabin we visited here was well designated and would have been great for a big family or a number of households traveling together. For extra accommodations options between May and October, click on this link.
Where to Eat
When it concerns dining at Crater Lake, food is as limited as lodging. We packed breakfast bars, sandwich repairings, treats, and beverages, and this ended up being an outstanding decision.
Crater Lake National Park has three locations to dine and one supermarket open during the peak season, Rim Village Café & Present, Annie Creek Restaurant, Crater Lake Lodge Dining-room, and Mazama Village Camper Shop.
During our visit just the Rim Village Café and Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room were open. We chose to have lunch at the Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room one afternoon. The food readied and the views were extraordinary. After our meal we bought some hot beverages and enjoyed them in the rocking chairs on the patio ignoring the lake.
This was such a terrific way to rest and recharge after a busy morning exploring the park. Travel tip: If you prepare to visit Crater Lake Lodge Dining-room between June and September, make a dining appointment.
A few dining options are also offered in the town of Chiloquin, located around 40 miles south of the park. Melita’s Café, the Peak to Peak Restaurant situated at the Kla-Mo-Ya Gambling establishment, and El Rodeo were all suggested to us by our hotel.
We chose to have dinner at El Rodeo; the area is a little rough-around-the-edges however the food is tasty, genuine, authentic Mexican cuisine. Plus, the portions are generous and the costs are reasonable.
West of the park by 25 miles, located throughout the street from Union Creek Resort, is Beckie’s Café. Beckie’s is a rustic restaurant that serves homestyle fare and not to be missed pies. The Very Berry and Coconut Cream were the “by far” winners of the four pie types we purchased, but they all were delicious.
Travel tip: Gasoline station are limited so if you do plan on venturing beyond the park for meals or anything else ensure you have sufficient gas to get you to your destination. The gas station in the park only operates from late May to mid-October. The closest gas stations beyond the park are the Possibility Filling station in the town of Prospect and the Crater Lake Junction Travel Center situated in Chiloquin.
Timing your visit to Crater Lake depends on which activities you most enjoy. Summer season, obviously, is the most popular time to visit since the park is most available. In addition to seeing the lake from the rim or by boat in the caldera, there are opportunities for treking, outdoor camping and learning about the lake’s history and special ecology.
In winter season, outdoor activities rely on cross-country snowboarding and snowshoeing (complimentary, guided walkings are provided by volunteer rangers typically from November to April). Crater Lake officials always state winter season is the park’s dominant season, thinking about that it is snow-shrouded most years from October to May.
I would advise checking out both seasons for best time to visit Crater Lake National Park.