Recently, we spent a weekend in South Oregon. We split our time between Crater Lake National Park (our first choice) and Umpqua National Forest (our second choice). We were so limited on time, we were initially overwhelmed by the many things to do in Crater Lake National park. After doing a lot more research, we finally narrowed it down to the top things to do at Crater lake.
WHY SHOULD I VISIT THE CRATER LAKE
Crater Lake National Park may not be the largest national park and it is not easy to reach. It is a beautiful and unique place. It is one of those places that photos can’t do justice to – it’s hard to capture the enormity of the lake and the stunning views it offers. Crater Lake in the US is truly a unique spot due to its size and deep blue colour.
You can find other hikes in Oregon if you are unable to make it (sadly Crater Lake does not allow dogs).
1. Sunrise at Discovery Point
My biggest question is always, “Where should I see sunrise at Crater lake?” Is there a better spot to capture sunrise at Crater lake?
Many people will view sunrise from Watchman Overlook, where your back will be against sunrise. Or Cloud Cap Overlook, which will face the sun. After much debate, we decided to view the sunrise at Crater Lake from Discovery Point. The sun will rise from your right. It’s also closer to Wizard Island from Watchman Overlook, so it’s a great spot.
The photo above shows that Discovery Point is the best spot to see the sunrise in Crater Lake. It lights up the lake from the right angles, and Wizard Island gives you some depth. Plus, it was a Saturday sunrise and we were the only ones there – making it even more special.
2. Mount Scott: Hike
Mount Scott offers the best views of Crater lake. Although it’s only a 4.5-mile hike, the elevation gain of 1,200 feet is quite impressive. Only one person came up at 7 AM in the morning, and we had the entire view to ourselves. We passed several more groups on the way down.
3. Take a walk to Plaikni Falls
Plaikni Falls is a 2 mile flat walk that you can make on your way back from the Crater lake Lodge. It was a very relaxing walk that could also be done in Chacos. The waterfalls were beautiful with the wildflowers and greenery around.
4. Lunch at Crater lake Lodge
Crater Lake Lodge serves surprisingly good food considering it has almost all the food in the region. You can relax on the patio and enjoy the view of the lake. It’s great that you don’t need to order food or pay for it.
5. Garfield Peak is a great place to hike
We had originally planned to hike Garfield Peak. But Holy Fire smoke rolled in, making it super thick and difficult to see. We gave up and went to Cleetwood Cove instead.
6. Cleetwood Cove Trail
The famous “jump in Crater Lake” photo! I was scared of the cold so I didn’t go. My friends braved the cold and I got a great shot of them.
It’s not always gray when there aren’t fires.