By Rebecca Scott | 09/03/2019 | Attractions, National Park, Outdoor Activities, Trails
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ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CRATER LAKE

Are you visiting Southern Oregon or the Rogue Valley and have Crater Lake on your MUST DO list? 
Well, good because it is absolutely something everyone should see at least once. 
Like most of us we only have one day blocked out for this magnificent bucket list item. What can you do in one day? You can see A LOT of Crater Lake National Park
If you think Crater Lake is simply a stopover to take fabulous pics, it offers so much more than that! Hiking, biking, sightseeing, stargazing — and you can do it all.
We’ve compiled a list of Crater Lake’s greatest hits that you can fit into one unforgettable day.

DRIVE THE RIM 

The Rim Drive is a 33-mile road around the lake with over 30 pull outs which offer awesome views of Crater Lake’s volcanic scenery. The drive takes about 2-3 hours, and it’s one of America’s most scenic byways. The full loop is usually open from early July to late October. 

When you go, don’t miss these 7 must-see stops.

1. Discovery Point
In 1853, it was near this spot that gold prospector John Hillman became the first European-American to stumble across what he called “Deep Blue Lake.”

2.Watchman Overlook
This pullout offers amazing views of Wizard Island, a cinder cone that erupted out of Crater Lake over 7,300 years ago. To find the pullout, drive 3.8 miles west of Rim Village and look for a viewpoint lined with wood fences.

3. Cloudcap Overlook
This overlook is located at the end of a 1-mile spur road, the highest paved road in Oregon. 

4. Pumice Castle Overlook
See one of the park’s most colorful features — a layer of orange pumice rock that was eroded into the shape of a medieval castle. Watch for the unmarked viewpoint, located 1.1 miles west of the Cloudcap Overlook junction.

5. Phantom Ship Overlook
Crater Lake’s “other island” is hard to spot. While it resembles a small sailboat, the island is the size of a 16-story building! It’s made of erosion-resistant lava and is 400,000 years old —  the oldest exposed rock within the caldera.

6. Pinnacles Overlook
The Pinnacles are “fossil fumaroles” where volcanic gases once rose up through a layer of volcanic ash, cementing the ash into solid rock.

7. Vidae Falls
Look for this cascading waterfall between Phantom Ship Overlook and park headquarters. A spring-fed creek tumbles over the glacier-carved cliff.




HIKING THE PARK

Feast your eyes on the beauty of Crater Lake during these hikes, which are suitable for all skill levels. While the Rim drive will get you to a lot of photo worthy sites, you can't beat the untouched views that these hiking trails will lead you to.

Castle Crest
- 0.5 mile loop trail
- 20 minutes
- Travel through a lush meadow with beautiful wildflowers. Can be rocky and slippery in places.

Lady of the Woods
- Pet friendly 
- 0.7 mile loop trail
- 30 minutes  
- The trail’s name refers to the sculpture of a woman carved into a boulder on the trail.

Sun Notch
- Handicap accessible
- 0.8 mile loop trail
- 30 minutes
- Trail offers views of the Phantom Ship.

Plaikni Falls
- Handicap accessible
- 2 miles
- 60 minutes
- Easy walk through an old growth forest that leads to a beautiful waterfall.
 

SWIMMING, BIKING & MORE!

Cool Off With A Swim 
You are allowed to swim in Crater Lake, but the water is cold! Swimming is only permitted at Cleetwood Cove and Wizard Island, which you can reach by tour boat. The shoreline at both locations is rocky and there are no beaches. 

Take a Bike Ride 
Bring your bike and let’s go! Bicycling is allowed on paved roads and the unpaved Grayback Drive. Bikes are not allowed on the trails, except for the Pinnacles Trail. Helmets are required for riders under 16 years of age and recommended for all cyclists. You can rent bikes at the nearby Diamond Lake Resort, 5 miles north of the park.

Watch the Wildlife
The park is home to many animals, and the most visible are deer and squirrels. Herds of elk are sometimes spotted in the meadows along the Rim Drive. If you’re lucky, you might see a fox, black bear, marmot or bald eagle. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see wildlife.

Sky Gazing
Cap off your Crater Lake day trip by staring at the stars. With a clear sky and unobstructed views, the Crater Lake rim is a great place to watch astronomical events, and Discovery Point is a favorite place to enjoy sunrises.


Crater Lake is a gem in the heart of the Rogue Valley. With a volcanic history and sapphire blue water, it’s a feast for the eyes and an inspiration for the soul, with plenty of activities for the entire family. Plan your Crater Lake day trip at www.TravelMedford.org

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