Winter in the National Parks: Crater Lake

Cold enthusiasts rejoice, the national parks are open all season

Crater Lake National Park.     Photo: Matthew Connolly/Shutterstock

Entrance Fee

$10 per vehicle, $5 per biker/hiker

SIZE: 183,225 acres 

While many guides will tell you that summer is the best time to visit Crater Lake, winter is one of the most beautiful and quiet times at this park. The lake was formed about 7,000 years ago with the eruption of Mt. Mazama and rainwater has filled the caldera ever since. The lake is about 2,000 feet deep, making it the deepest lake in the U.S.

This is the hardest part about the park. It’s not easy to get there. The closest large national airports are still pretty far away, but you can easily get a flight from Portland to Klamath. Once you get to Klamath you are about 60 miles from the park.

There are no lodges or campgrounds open in the park during the winter, but nearby towns can provide plenty of options. Unfortunately, Ft. Klamath, the closest town, is still about 25 miles away.

Rangers lead snowshoe hikes on weekends during the winter months and crosscountry skiing is popular. Pick up skis before you come to the park. Trails around the rim of the lake are mostly easy and provide beautiful vistas in every direction. Fishing enthusiasts may rejoice as fishing for trout and salmon is legal and does not require a license. Just don’t fall in.

⇢ The nearest gas station is 35 miles away, so make sure you fill up your tank before you get to the park.
⇢ There is very limited to no cell phone service, so make sure you are well prepared.
⇢ If you have time, combine your visit to the park with a visit to Bend, Oregon, a popular outdoors destination.

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