Discover World-Class Dark Skies at Crater Lake
By Emily Hunter | 11/04/2022 | Attractions, National Park, Outdoor Activities, Outdoor Adventure, Things to Do


Crater Lake is known far and wide for its raw, sheer beauty, and renowned with countless accolades. Not only is it the deepest, clearest and bluest lake in the United States, it is also listed by the National Park Service’s Dark Sky Team as among the top 10 dark sky locations in the National Park System (Crater Lake Institute). When the sun goes down, the entire caldera becomes a place of pure, unparalleled fantasy.

Boasting rural mountains and a unique landscape, you don’t have to drive far to view the entire Milky Way and all its glorious details in Medford. Just 18 miles will get you these views, but 50 miles away enters you into Crater Lake National Park, home to world-class dark skies. Rich with lush, protected forests, Crater Lake presents a quiet mystique, and appears to be on an entirely new planet. 

Speaking of planets, you can see nearly all of them in our solar system with perfect visibility. Depending on the planet, it may be better to view them when the sun sets or after the sun rises, and it’s always a great idea to bring a pair of binoculars for an enhanced experience!

Nestled on the crest of the Cascade Mountains, the air is so pure that visibility is up to 190 miles, and occasionally the 240 mile limit. To put that into perspective, the average visibility at sea level is only 15-25 miles (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Far away from light pollution, the pupils are able to dilate and receive thousands of stars and constellations from millions of lightyears away that would normally be swallowed out by the light. 

"the air is so pure that visibility is up to 190 miles ... To put that into perspective, the average visibility at sea level is only 15-25 miles."

The best time to stargaze at Crater Lake is when the humidity is high and the sky is clear of clouds or a full moon. Though the transparency of the sky is at its peak in the summer months, the experience of stargazing in the snow is truly incredible. The stars reflect from the lake, creating a wonderful, riveting sight of being immersed in a galaxy. The views are best from the 7,000ft elevation and unobstructed view of Rim Village. With a lower density of trees, the horizon is visible from all directions, giving you 360 degree views of the beautiful starscapes.

Following the Total Eclipse of August 2017, the Great American Eclipse will occur October 14, 2023 - and Crater Lake will be directly in the center of it. Below is a table with the times of the maximum eclipse. Medford is also in the pathway, receiving a more partial view compared to the national park.

Just 50 miles from downtown Medford, Crater Lake offers you the experience of a lifetime. Become immersed in the wonders of the lake by day, and entranced by the starry skies by night. A part of the largest path of world-class dark skies in the nation - Crater Lake is an experience you won’t want to miss!

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