Each year, increasing numbers of cyclists come to Crater Lake National Park to ride around the lake on the 33-mile Rim Drive. The route is physically demanding. Steep hills at high elevation may encourage even the most fit riders to pause at many of the road's thirty overlooks and pullouts. The payoff, however, is spectacular scenery, seen at a pace that few visitors choose to take enough time for.
Rules and Safety Precautions
Cyclists must respect and obey all rules that apply to automobile traffic, including speed limits
Bicycle helmets are required. Cyclists face many hazards, including high speeds on steep downhill runs; rocks, animals, and other road hazards; and heavy traffic
Only cyclists experienced at riding with auto traffic should consider biking at Crater Lake
Park roads seldom have shoulders. Cyclists should use extreme caution, particlarly along narrow areas and blind curves. Wear bright, highly-visible clothing to help drivers see you
Bicycles are not permitted on park trails. All roads closed to automobiles are also closed to bicycles. For mountain biking, the Grayback Drive provides eight miles of unpaved, one-way road
Cyclists unaccustomed to high altitudes may find that the elevation makes for difficult breathing
Water is available only at Rim Village and Park Headquarters
Cyclists on long tours are welcome to stay at either of the park's two campgrounds. Both charge a fee for camping; call the park for current rates.
Mazama Campground, located near highway 62 at the Annie Springs entrance, offers 198 campsites, lodging, and a camper service store. It is generally open from mid-June to early October.
Lost Creek Campground, located three miles off the East Rim Drive, is more isolated. It has 16 campsites for tents only, cold water faucets, and toilet facilities. Lost Creek is open from mid-July to mid-September.
All routes into the park have long, steep grades. Because road conditions are unfavorable to cyclists most of the year, and because many roads are closed during the long winter, we recommend you plan trips only for the summer months of July, August, and September. Call the park for an update on road and weather conditions.
Entrance stations provide maps and information during summer daytime hours. Fees are $10 to enter the park by automobile, or $5 per bicycle up to a maximum of $10 per family.
For more information, call 541-594-2211 extension 402 between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm Pacific time.
The Rim Drive
The most popular bicycle route at Crater Lake is the 33-mile Rim Drive. This road provides spectacular views of Crater Lake and the surrounding area throughout its length. The road is narrow with long, steep grades. Most cyclists start from the Park Headquarters area and ride around the lake clockwise. This direction puts one of the steepest and longest grades at the beginning of the trip
Crater Lake National Park offers ranger-led programs for bus tours on a staff-available basis. Tour groups may arrange to meet a ranger, who will ride along as the bus circles Crater Lake on the 33-mile Rim Drive.
Your tour will make approximately 5 stops of about 10 minutes each along the route, and you will have an opportunity to view the lake from several different angles and viewpoints. The Cascade mountains to the north and south will also be visible, weather permitting. Topics discussed may include geology, Native American legends, lake research, and more. Tours may vary slightly in stop locations and information content depending upon which ranger leads the tour. The total time of the tour will be approximately two hours.
Reservations for a ranger to "step on" your bus may be made by phoning 541-594- 2211, ext. 401 between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm daily, or by writing to:
Interpretive Supervisor Crater Lake National Park
P.O. Box 7
Crater Lake, OR 97604
Tours must be requested at least two weeks prior to your intended visit for scheduling purposes. Reservations will not be accepted with less notice.
Ranger-led programs are available on a staff-available basis only. If you do not receive confirmation of a ranger-led program, be prepared to tour the park on your own.
The bus tour is a special program offered when staffing is available. If you wish to help offset the cost of this program, send a donation for $25.00 to the Interpretive Supervisor at the address listed above. Checks may be issued to the National Park Service.
If it is necessary for your group to cancel or modify your visit, please contact the park at least one week prior to the scheduled program by calling 541-594-2211, ext. 401 between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. If the ranger is busy, you will have the opportunity to leave a voice mail message informing us of your group's name, the date of the tour, and your request to cancel or modify your tour. Let us know, too, if you need to reschedule.
Rangers are available to begin programs between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm only. Changes must be requested within those constraints
The entrance fee structure for commercial vehicles visiting national parks is based on the capacity of the vehicle you arrive in, not the number of passengers. The age of passengers also does not affect the entrance fee. For example, a bus of U.S. citizens over the age of 62 holding Golden Age Passports must still pay the entrance fee. Fees may not be paid in advance.
Fees for commercial vehicles entering Crater Lake National Park are:
Capacity of 1 to 6 individuals - $25.00 + passenger fee
Capacity of 7 to 15 individuals - $75.00
Capacity of 16 to 25 individuals - $100.00
Capacity of 26 or more individuals - $200.00
A commercial tour consists of one or more persons travelling on an itinerary that has been packaged, priced, or sold for leisure recreational purposes by an organization that realizes financial gain through the provision of this service.
Educational Fee Waivers
If your group is visiting the park as part of a standardized school curriculum, studying geology, botany, or a similar subject, you may qualify for an educational fee waiver on the entrance fee only. English-as-a-Second-Language groups do not qualify for the fee waiver.
Requests must be received in the park at least two weeks prior to your departure from the school or community. Approved waivers will be sent via mail to the group leader and must be presented at the entrance station for waived admission. Letters of request must include the date(s) you will be visiting the park, the subject matter area supported by the visit, the age and number of students, the type and number of vehicles, and the group leader's name.
Fee waivers may be requested by sending a letter on school or organization letterhead stationary to:
Fee Collection Supervisor
Crater Lake National Park
P.O. Box 7
Crater Lake, OR 97604
Bus tours are available from the last week in June through Mid-September. Tours begin from the Steel Information Center between the hours of 10:00 am and 1:00 pm. There may be days when we do not have staff available and no tours can be scheduled.
All waters within Crater Lake National Park are open to fishing unless otherwise indicated below.
No Fishing license is required within the boundaries of Crater Lake National Park.
Fishing is allowed from May 20 through Oct 31; however, the lake can be fished year-round except when seasonal limitations prevent safe access. Fishing is allowed in the park from 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
All waters are restricted to use of artificial lures and flies only. No organic bait of any kind can be used in Crater Lake National Park. This includes live or dead fish, power bait, and fish eggs or roe
There are no restrictions relative to size, number, or species taken.
The lake can be fished year-round except when seasonal limitations prevent safe access.
The only access to the lake is by the Cleetwood Trail located on the north side of Crater Lake where Cleetwood Cove provides about 1/4 mile of rocky shoreline for angling.
Wizard Island is also open while boat tours are running.
Fishing is allowed from park boat docks except when a boat is within 200 feet of the dock.
Private boats or flotation devices are not allowed on Crater Lake.
Note Pack out your catch. Cleaning fish in the lake is prohibited.
Fishing is prohibited in Sun Creek starting three miles upstream from the junction of Sun Creek and the park boundry, and extending three miles upstream, as posted. Sun Creek is protected habitat for endangered Bull Trout.
State regulations are enforced for stream fishing in Crater Lake National Park.
Fish in Crater Lake
In 1888 William G. Steel, considered the founder of Crater Lake National Park, made the first recorded attempts to stock Crater Lake. National Park Service researchers believe that before that time, Crater Lake contained no fish. William Steel's motive for stocking the lake was probably to improve the lake's recreational value. Around the turn of the century, a regular stocking program was begun. Stocking continued through the early part of the century until creel censuses showed that the fish were naturally reproducing. Six species were introduced to Crater Lake during this time. The last recorded stockings were silver salmon in 1937 and rainbow trout in 1941.
Later investigations revealed that the naturally reproducing silver salmon were actually kokanee salmon. Since kokanee were not intentionally introduced, researchers believe that one of the plantings of silver salmon fingerlings was actually kokanee. Of the six species introduced, two remain: Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout.
Kokanee Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) are a dwarf, landlocked form of sockeye salmon. Kokanee are the most abundant species in the lake, estimated to have a population well into the hundreds of thousands. An average kokanee is about 8 inches long, but some grow to as long as 18 inches.
Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are less abundant than the kokanee, but are typically larger. The largest documented rainbow trout from Crater Lake was a 6 1/2 pound, 26 inch long specimen caught by the park research team. Most rainbows average 10 to 14 inches.
Rainbow trout and kokanee salmon populations are stable in the lake. Researchers believe that this stability is due to each fish species eating different foods. Kokanee feed on zooplankton and rainbows feed on aquatic insects.
Although the lake is by far the park's largest body of water, fish also inhabit many of the small streams within the park. These streams are generally not accessible because of the steep canyons in which they are found. According to stocking records, two species, eastern brook and rainbow trout, were planted in park streams. However, a total of four species have been identified.
Eastern Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) have been found in almost every park stream.
Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were originally planted in large numbers throughout the park. Today, it appears that their numbers are few and scattered. They have been collected in recent years from Annie, Bybee, Castle, Munson, and Sun Creeks.
German Brown Trout (Salmo trutta), in recent surveys, had one representative specimen found in Sand Creek above the falls, which appears to be a barrier preventing upstream migration. Researchers believe that this fish may be the remnant of an unrecorded or unauthorized planting.
Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus) are understood to be the only native fish species found within the park. These less competitive fish are a candidate species under the Endangered Species Act, and are considered rare in the Southern Cascades. Programs to conserve this species are now being implemented.
There are more than 90 miles of one-way and loop trails, including 33 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail as well as hikes up Mount Scott, Garfield Peak, and Crater Peak. It is also possible to hike to the lake surface on the Cleetwood Trail. of Crater Lake National Park. These are usually snow-free from mid-July to early-October. Just over 90% of the park is managed as wilderness, though these areas have yet to be designated as such. A permit is required for all overnight trips.
Be prepared for sudden and extreme weather changes. Be prepared for the unexpected and carry extra food and water. Always carry raingear. Pack-out or bury human waste more than 200 feet from water. Stay on trails. Dogs and other pets, bicycles, and motor vehicles are NOT allowed on any park trails. Remember, elevations range from 6,000-9,000 feet- take it easy and have fun!
Crater Lake National Park is a special place and a federally protected area. To help preserve park resources and to protect yourself, please observe the following rules on park trails:
Hiking or climbing inside the caldera is prohibited. Conditions within the caldera are extremely dangerous. The Cleetwood Trail is the only safe and legal access to the lake's shore.
Dogs and other pets are not allowed on park trails. Pets often threaten small wildlife. Even well-behaved domestic pets leave scents that disturb the local wildlife. The park has also had many incidents of lost or injured pets who escape from their owner's control.
Smoking is not allowed on any trail.
Bicycling is permitted only on paved roads and the Grayback Drive.
Feeding wild animals, including birds, is prohibited. Feeding animals is dangerous for you, bad for them, and harmful for the ecosystem. Please enjoy all wild animals from a distance.
Stay on trails to protect vegetation and fragile hillsides. Shortcutting trails, particularly on switchbacks, can damage slopes, making them more susceptible to erosion and visual damage.
Be prepared! Equip yourself with water, food, warm clothing, rain gear, and anything else appropriate to the trail you take. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
Leave all rocks, plants and artifacts undisturbed for the enjoyment of future hikers.
Do not drink water from park streams or from the lake without properly treating it.
|Sun Notch Viewpoint||0.5 mile round trip||0.5 hour||Short stroll. Overlook of Crater Lake and Phantom Ship|
|Castle Crest Wildflower Garden||0.5 loop trail||0.5 hour||Short stroll. Beautiful brook; Display of wildflowers July-Aug|
|Godfrey Glen||1.0 mile||0.75 hour||Gentle level hike. Overlook of Annie Creek Canyon; old forest growth|
|Watchman Peak||1.4 miles round trip||1.0 hour||Moderate climb; 500 ft elev gain. Historic fire tower; overlook of Wizard Island|
|Cleetwood Cove||2.2 miles round trip||2.0 hours||Strenuous climb; 700 ft elev gain. Only access to lakeside; swimming and fishing|
|Annie Creek Canyon||1.7 miles loop trip||1.5 hours||Moderate climb out of canyon. Deep stream cut canyon; wildflower and wildlife sightings|
|Garfield Peak||3.4 miles round trip||2.0 to 3 hours||Strenuous; 1,000 ft elev gain. Panoramic views; overlook of Phantom Ship|
|Mt Scott||5.0 miles round trip||3.0 hours||Strenuous; 1,500 ft elev gain. Highest peak in park. Outstanding views; historic fire tower|
Additional Hiking Information
Tips for traveling the Cleetwood Cove trail
Visitors wishing to reach the lakeshore of Crater Lake will need to hike the Cleetwood Trail. Located on the north side of Crater Lake, it is the only safe and legal access to the lake. The trail is one mile in length (one-way) and drops 700 feet as you descend from the East Rim Drive trailhead to the lakeshore. On your return trip, this is comparable to climbing 65 flights of stairs! The Cleetwood Cove hiking trail is recommended only for those in good physical condition and should not be attempted by visitors with heart, breathing or leg problems. It is not accessible for visitors with mobility impairments. Hikers are advised to wear closed toed shoes and bring plenty of water, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Toilets are available at both the trailhead and the boat dock area. This trail typically does not open until late June and closes in mid-October.
The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from the Mexican to Canadian borders along the mountainous crest of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada. Thirty-three miles pass through Crater Lake National Park, offering through-hikers magnificent views of the lake. "If you have never gazed down on Crater Lake, reform! Visit it for your own good." These were the words of J. Hazard in his 1946 book describing Pacific Crest Trail. At that time, Crater Lake was the finishing point on the Oregon Skyline trail. Today this 400 mile stretch from Mount Hood to Crater Lake is the oldest section of the Pacific Crest Trail. The idea for a trail on the west coast was first proposed in the 1920s, but it was not until 1972 that all 2,638 miles of the trail were completed and hiked for the first time. The first National Scenic Trail was the Appalachian Trail, running from Georgia to Maine. Next came the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Currently, there are 17 National Scenic Trails, 12 of them administered by the National Park Service. Some trails, like the Pacific Crest Trail, pass through some of the most beautiful areas in the United States. Others trace routes of historical or scientific interest. Pacific Crest Trail hikers have always been able to explore vast areas of volcanic landscape in Crater Lake National Park. However, until recently they could get a view of the lake only by leaving the main trail and entering the developed Rim Village area. In June 1995, an alternate trail opened which brings hikers right up to the rim of Crater Lake. Coming from the south, the trail ascends the Dutton Creek trail to the rim, then follows the edge of the caldera for six miles, with spectacular views. It then parallels the road from North Junction to Grouse Hill and rejoins the Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail passes through seven national parks, including Crater Lake. Each has its own rules governing backcountry users. Hikers should contact each park for details about local backcountry regulations. Most hikers who wish to stay overnight in Crater Lake National Park must get a backcountry permit. Permits may be obtained at the Rim Visitor Center in Rim Village, or at the Steel Information Center in the Park Headquarters area. Pacific Crest Trail through-hikers, alternatively, may sign the trail register as they enter Crater Lake National Park. Through-hikers who have signed the trail register do not need to obtain a backcountry permit.
No pets are permitted in the backcountry of Crater Lake National Park, including along the Pacific Crest Trail. Although information distributed by the Pacific Crest Trail Conference may state that pets are allowed on all segments of the Pacific Crest Trail, pets are not allowed on any section of the trail in Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Lassen Volcanic, Yosemite, or Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks.
Free permits are required for anyone wishing to camp overnight in the backcountry. Permits are available at both park visitor centers during regular hours of operation. Backcountry permits are required for overnight snow camping.
SCUBA divers in Crater Lake National Park face special challenges. For the dedicated diver, however, the lake also offers a unique experience. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and one of the clearest fresh water lakes in the world. Keep in mind that Crater Lake is accessible for divers only from about June 15 through September 15 of each year due to our extreme snow conditions. Earlier or later dives may be possible, but cannot be guaranteed due to the variability of our weather
Permits and Dive Tables
All divers are required to obtain a diving permit in person upon arrival at the park. The permit is free of charge, and is available between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm daily. Permits are only issued from the Canfield Building (Ranger Station) in the Park Headquarters complex. A ranger will confirm your diving ability and give you specific information about diving in the lake. The lake level is at 6,176 feet in elevation, so high altitude dive tables should be used in planning your dive. Most divers use the 8,000 foot table.
Access to the Lake
Crater Lake is accessible for diving only by hiking the Cleetwood Trail, located on the north side of Crater Lake. The Cleetwood Trail is 1.1 miles in length and descends 700 feet to the lake surface. You must be able to carry all your equipment up and down the trail. Wheeled vehicles are prohibited. Restrooms are available at the top and bottom of the Cleetwood Trail but there are no food or drinking water facilities. You may dive from the Cleetwood Cove dock near the lake level gauge. You may also dive from Wizard Island; however, the island is only accessible by taking one of the concession-operated boat tours. A ranger-naturalist narrates the tour, so plan on arriving to Wizard Island about forty minutes after departing from the Cleetwood Cove dock. Contact the park at 541-594-2211, extension 402, for tour prices and a current schedule. Prior arrangements must be made with the concessioner, as space on the tour boats is limited. After your dive, you may return to Cleetwood Cove by catching a later boat tour, on a space-available basis. No one is allowed to stay on Wizard Island overnight. There are no drinking water or other facilities on Wizard Island. If lightning threatens, boat tours may be cancelled.
Reminders and Regulations
You must carry out everything that you carried in. Minimum impact visiting is a requirement.
Private boats and rafts are not allowed on the lake. Only interpretive boat tours and research vessels are permitted. Crater Lake is preserved as a scenic and scientific wonder, not as a recreational lake.
Because the water is quite cold (temperatures below the surface are consistently in the upper 30's), a good quality, 0.25-inch full wet suit or a dry suit is required.
Diving is prohibited within 100 feet of the Cleetwood Cove dock and mooring facilities, and within 100 feet of the Wizard Island dock.
No solo diving is permitted under any circumstances. A "diver down" flag is required.
No collecting of rocks, plants, or other features is permitted. No spearfishing is permitted.
The closest full decompression chamber is in Seattle, Washington, located 500 miles north of the park.
All divers must be certified NAUI, PADI, or similar-type divers and must bring proof of certification with them.
Air refills are not available in the park. The closest facilities for this are dive shops in Klamath Falls, Medford, Phoenix, and Grants Pass.
Exploring Deep Blue
An average annual precipitation of 67 inches, primarily in the form of snowmelt, keeps Crater Lake at a fairly constant depth. At its deepest point, Crater Lake is 1,932 feet deep, making it the deepest lake in the United States and the seventh deepest in the world. Surface temperatures in Crater Lake vary from 32� to 65�F. The average summer temperature is 50� to 58�F. Below 260 feet, the temperature is a constant 38�F. Once under the surface, you will find Crater Lake varied in appearance. As in any natural body of water, you may encounter sediments, algae, and suspended materials. Phytoplankton and zooplankton live in the lake, along with two species of fish (kokanee salmon and rainbow trout), which were introduced in the late 1800s. Moss grows along the caldera walls to depths of more than 400 feet.
Discover what it take to survive in an area that receives over 500 inches of snow and where winter last for nine months of the year! Every weekend throughout the winter season, park rangers and volunteers will be presenting ecology walks on snowshoes. Various stops are made along the tour route where the ranger will explain how park animals, trees and humans adapt to survive in this winter wonderland.
Regularly scheduled walks for the general public are offered at 1:00 pm on weekends from Thanksgiving through the of March. Meet the Ranger or Volunteer at the Rim Village Information Desk inside the concessionaire's cafeteria/gift shop building. Walks last approximately 1.5 hours. Snowshoes for the walks are provided free of charge by the National Park Service. Snowshoeing requires little skill, but it is advised that participants be in good physical condition. Due to size of snowshoes, children must be at least nine years old to participate. In addition to the regularly scheduled walks, school groups and other organizations may make reservations for walks at other times by calling: 1-541-594-2211 Ext. 401.
Several marked ski trails are available in the winter at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Trails are patrolled by park service personnel and by ski patrol volunteers. It is best to call ahead for trail and weather conditions. These trails are not groomed, providing skiers with a wilderness type backcountry experience. Always include map and compass, waterproof clothing, extra mittens and socks, plenty of water, and high energy food.
|Ski Trail||Length||Difficulty||Trail Highlights|
|Wizard Island Overlook||5.0 miles round trip, 2.0 miles round trip to Discovery Point||Beginning Skier||It provides spectacular views of Crater Lake as it travels over gentle rolling hills.|
|Mazama Village Loop||1.0 mile round trip||Beginning Skier||It is located near the junction of Hwy. 62 and the road to Crater Lake. It is an easy, flat trail.|
|Hemlock Trail||1.0 mile round trip||Intermediate Skier||Rolling journey through an ancient Mountain Hemlock forest offers views of Crater Lake and the Klamath Basin.|
|Sun Notch Trail||10.0 miles round trip||Intermediate Skier||Provides a spectacular view of Crater Lake and directly overlooks Phantom ship. During avalanche danger, use the marked bypass route.|
|Raven Trail||1.0 mile one-way||Advanced Skier||Begin directly east of Crater Lake Lodge at Rim Village. It descends steeply to park headquarters.|
|Dutton Creek||4.5 miles one-way||Advanced Skier||This trail descends steeply and includes several sharp turns as it winds toward the Annie Springs area.|
Leave No Trace concepts are strongly encouraged in all areas of the park and are publicly supported by the National Park Service. The "leave no trace" philosophy is a critical concept to backcountry travel. More than 90% of Crater Lake National Park has been proposed as federal wilderness. Designated wilderness areas are to be managed with few permanent impacts by humankind. The Wilderness Act, passed in 1964, directs us to ensure that wilderness remains "untrammeled" by human presence. You can help by minimizing your own impact in many ways.
Leave natural features undisturbed. Take only pictures and memories. Allow everyone to experience the entire wilderness.
Keep groups small. Smaller groups are less likely to disturb wildlife and other hikers.
Stay on the trail. Taking shortcuts or ignoring switchbacks destroys vegetation, causes more rapid erosion, and can make trails dangerous for everyone.
Keep voices low. Leave radios and tape players at home.
Remember that the "leave no trace" guidelines are more than a set of rules. They are an attitude and a means of preserving wild lands and open spaces for everyone.
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