What you will often hear about Crater Lake is that no matter what the pictures look like, you will not believe how blue the water really is. That’s no lie. This is truly a sight you must behold to believe and appreciate.
We visited Crater Lake National Park after first spending a few days in Eugene and then heading down to the Redwoods of Jedediah State Redwoods Park (a joint park with the National Park Service). See our blogpost about the Redwoods. This part of Oregon is quite different from the rainforest like environment where the Redwoods are found.
We came into the park in late afternoon and set up camp at the acceptable but unimpressive Mazama Campground. More on that at the end. We really wanted to get up to the lake before dark, which we did pretty quickly.
The lake was beautiful in the evening light, and though we did not know it right at the time, it does not yield the deep blue at that time of the day. It really saves its best for the times when the lake is receiving full sun.
The next morning, we realized how crazily beautiful the lake is. We spent a lot of time trying to think of how to describe to someone else what it looks like, and concluded it really could never be done satisfactorily.
During our time there, we navigated many of the trails along the rim of the lake. We also took some side excursions on trails where wildflowers and waterfalls were stunning.
One of our favorite parts of our stay was an excursion across the lake to Wizard Island, an island volcano inside the caldera that forms Crater Lake. The boat ride across and back affords stunning views from a completely different perspective than those from above looking down at the lake.
The climb up the Wizard Island volcano is not terribly difficult and if you are in decent shape at all it should be no problem. It can be warm, and is mostly in direct sunlight, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. The effort is definitely worth it. Save a little energy for when you arrive back at the dock as you still have quite a little work to do climbing backup from the lake to the parking lots.
The campground we used, Mazama, is really just a place to pitch your tent and rest. There really are no impressive views and little privacy as trees are sparse. Bring a shade canopy to put over your table if you can. The Mazama store has a pretty good selection of supplies as well as showers and laundry services.
Crater Lake was stunning and a real highlight of our trip. Do a little homework before you go to know what all your options are, and remember that things do get going sometimes pretty late in the year as snowpack in the area is epic.