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14 Great Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations

Last updated on May 7th, 2022 at 11:46 pm

Crater Lake National Park Winter

Crater Lake National Park Boondocking locations can be a bit of a struggle but we have chosen 14 that we know you will find to be perfect. The park is not just a place to sight see, but a place to witness beauty in its most natural state. The lake itself gives way to some of nature&’s greatest phenomena including the unimaginable depths, crystal-clear waters, and landscape riddled with cliffs and volcanic structures.

Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake has become wildly popular not only in the United States, but also the world. Sitting in a volcanic basin, it is the prize taker for the deepest lake in America at 1,943 feet in depth and the seventh deepest lake in the world. The lake is roughly five miles in diameter and is surrounded by cliffs that sit 2,000 feet above the surface of the lake. The sheer size of the lake and its surroundings demanded my attention and caused me to react in awe and admiration.

It is no secret that the lake water is a spectacle for tourists such as myself. The water level of the lake fluctuates from season to season but has never moved more than sixteen feet in a year, which is minimal in comparison to the size and depth. The clarity of the lake water was absolutely breathtaking as it cannot be found anywhere else.

The many informational stands speaks on the clarity in stating that it is one-of-a kind given that no streams or rivers run into the basin. The clarity of the water allows wavelengths of sunlight to be absorbed more easily allowing a portrait to be painted on the lake displaying many different colors depending on the season and time of year. While visiting during sunset, I was able to catch a view breathtaking orange and yellow colors that radiated off the lakes surface.

A common misconception is that Crater Lake cannot host wildlife. This assumption could not be further from the truth. The lake is home to approximately 1.8 million fish varying from rainbow trout all the way to salmon. Zoologists have found over 157 different species of life thriving in the waters. While hiking the Cleetwood Cove Trail, I was able to gaze into the water to find creatures moving about and wandering through the crystal-clear waters.

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History of Crater Lake National Park

The earliest connection between people and Crater Lake has been traced back to the Native Americans. There have been many artifacts found by archeologists such as sandals, tools, and clothing. There is no evidence that the area served as a permanent home for the Native Americans but was a popular place for short-term stays. While in the area, I experienced a historic vibe that caused feelings of nostalgia and wonder.

Upon my arrival at the national park, I found a variety of informational pamphlets and signs that described the parks Parks and landmarks. In one of the pamphlets, I came across a story on a young man from Kansas named William Gladstone Steel. In this story, William describes how he found out about Crater Lake through a newspaper article. After reading the article, he promised himself that he would see the lake in person one day.

That day came thirteen years later and was one that he claimed he would never forget. William was so amazed at the beauty of the lake that he decided it should be a national park. It came as no surprise to William that his request to make the area a national park was shot down by many who used the land for mining and herding. Through all the negativity, William remained positive and determined. All of his hard work paid off in May of 1902, when Crater Lake became a national park.

1 FR 960 Dispersed Camping - Crater Lake National Monument Boondocking Locations

14 Great Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations

1. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – FR 960 Dispersed Camping

Address
Crescent, Oregon
GPS: 43.09919, -122.07643
Elevation: 5955′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and .5 miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 45 feet. You may stay 14 days at FR 960 Dispersed Camping. This isn’t the prettiest campsite but it’s at a good location, just outside the north entrance to Crater Lake NP and about 12 miles from the lake itself. FR 960 is less than a mile long and dead ends at a volcanic outcropping. There are large spaces at the end with gravel and no shade.

2. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Camp Starseed

Address
Oregon
GPS: 42.764703, -122.056043
Elevation: 4377′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Unofficial)

You may stay 14 days at Camp Starseed- Annie Creek Rd #422. 100% wooded, flat car/tent camp. To get to the actual site you need to follow the GPS cords exactly. Camp will be well off the dirt road and there is only tracks to the spot but you will love it! Get good water just down the dirt road at Annie creek. Primitive forest camp. Quiet, secluded, perfect. Good base to explore Crater lake national Park. 2 minutes from the park southern border.

3. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Annie Creek Sno-Park

Address
Annie Creek Road
Fort Klamath, Oregon
GPS: 42.761717, -122.059272
Elevation: 4370′

Management – Public – Forest Service

Annie Creek Sno-Park is open all year. Free Dispersed camping in the Fremont-Winema National Forests Klamath Ranger District. This campsite does not use a reservation system. First come, first served.

4. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Three Lakes Sno-Park

Address
National Forest Development Road 3703
Medford, Oregon
GPS: 43.107071, -122.185748
Elevation: 5404′

Management
Public – Forest Service

Three Lakes Sno-Park is open all year. Free Dispersed camping in the Umpqua National Forest’s Diamond Lake Ranger District. No reservations. First come, first served.

5. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Upper Rogue river – County Line Trailhead

Address
Prospect, Oregon
GPS: 42.996009, -122.37609
Elevation: 3655′
Get Directions
Management Public – Forest Service

The road in is Dirt and 1 mile miles from a paved road. There are 1-5 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. You may stay Any at Upper Rogue river – County Line Trailhead.

6. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Claude Lewis SnoPark

Address
Oregon
GPS: 43.064, -122.3426
Elevation: 4091′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Paved. Claude Lewis SnoPark is open All Year. There are 16-29 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is unlimited. You may stay 14 at Claude Lewis SnoPark.

7. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Bybee Creek

Address
Prospect, Oregon
GPS: 42.93281, -122.42321
Elevation: 3563′

Management
Public – Forest Service (Official)

The road in is Gravel. Bybee Creek is open All year. There are 6-15 campsites at this location.

8. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Sun Pass State Forest near Fort Klamath

Address
Chiloquin, Oregon
GPS: 42.711122, -121.977518
Elevation: 4226′

Management – Public – State Forest (Unofficial)

The road in is Dirt and can find a spot very close to road miles from a paved road. Sun Pass State Forest near Fort Klamath is open year round. There are 30 or more campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay not sure at Sun Pass State Forest near Fort Klamath.

9. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Cinnamon Butte

Address
Crescent, Oregon
GPS: 43.23275, -122.11481
Elevation: 5571′

Management – Public – Forest Service

Great campsite up a dirt road. The road is accessible in a low slung 2 wheel drive car. The parking is deep enough for 2 normal cars or a short/mid length truck and trailer setup. There’s an established fire ring and room for 2+ 2-person tents. More if you walk back 20 feet or so into the woods. ground is relatively level and dry. A couple of less ideal sites are further up the turnout. This is close to Crater Lake National Park. Mosquitoes were heavy after/near sunset.

10. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Spring Creek Recreation Area

Address
Chiloquin, Oregon
GPS: 42.670627, -121.887378
Elevation: 4236′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Unofficial)

Unmaintained former Forest Service campground. Some small branches growing into roadway. No services. Spots are large in some areas. Not recommended for RV over 28 ft.

11. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Windingo Pass

Address
Windingo Pass Road (FSR060)
Oregon
GPS: 43.2537, -122.15997
Elevation: 4557′

Management – Public – Forest Service

The road in is Paved. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 35 feet. About the hundred yards North of Highway 138 On Windingo pass road (aka Forest rd 60). Nice asphalt Pull-out That will accommodate six or eight RVs if everybody backs in. Between mile marker73 and 74 Off of Highway 138. Good cell signal. Had three bars with both Verizon and AT&T. Nights were very cool as elevation is about 5000 feet. This is about 5 miles north of diamond Lake. Minimal road noise From an occasional car.

12. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Sand Shed

Address
Oregon
GPS: 43.25594, -122.17346
Elevation: 4547′

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

Hidden campsite discovered when the Forest Service staged us during a recent forest fire. Campsite has one composting toilet with some picnic tables. Drive towards rock shed and bear left. You will see several dirt roads leading into the trees.

13. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Beaver Swamp Trailhead

Address
GPS: 43.093399, -122.518365

Management – Public – Forest Service (Official)

There is a fire ring, picnic table, and toilet here. No trash service.

14. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – 20 Miles: – Agency Lookout

Address
Chiloquin, Oregon
GPS: 42.635108, -121.929532
Elevation: 4783′

Management – Public – State Forest (Unofficial)

Secluded spot on Agency Hill Lookout Rd perfect for car camping with a great view.

14. Crater Lake National Park Boondocking Locations – Skimmerhorn Trailhead

Address
GPS: 43.078668, -122.541529
Elevation: 3560′

There is a large dispersed camping site on the left just before the end of Road 600 and Skimmerhorn Trailhead. There are two picnic tables.

Top 10 Trails to Hike at Crater Lake National Park

There are many different trail options at Crater Lake National Park that cater to any individual needs or desires you might have. These trails vary in length, difficulty, and views. Here is my list of top ten trails at Crater Lake National Park:

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #1. Cleetwood Cove Trail

1. Cleetwood Cove Trail - crater lake national park

The most popular hike around the park and rightfully so. It is a total distance of 2.2 miles and was one of the most challenging hikes for me due to its ascending 700 feet in just 1.1 miles. Even though the terrain was very challenging, it was extremely rewarding in offering some of the best views of the park. This trail also takes you right down to the water’s edge where you can fish or swim in the crystal-clear glacier waters.

There is a great trail of switchbacks down to the lake. Definitely need to put your feet in the water or jump in when you get there! the way back is all uphill and took me about 20 minutes to get back to the road

Length: 2.0 mi
Elevation gain: 620 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Beach, Forest, Lake, Views, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #2. Pinnacles Trail

2. Pinnacles Trail crater lake national park

Another very popular walking trail that was a fairly easy hike. The length of Pinnacles Trail was exactly one mile and gave way to amazing views of the area surrounding the lake. One amazing view was a non-active volcanic structure called Mount Mazama. The size and unique strcuture can be seen extremely well from Pinnacles Trail.

Be sure to do the trail add about three force of the way down the trail turn and look back and you’ll see a whole line of the pinnacles. It’s pretty incredible.

Length: 0.8 mi
Elevation gain: 42 ft
Route type: Out & back

Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Hiking, Mountain biking, Nature trips, Walking, Running, Forest, Views, Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #3. Garfield Peak Trail

3. Garfield Peak Trail crater lake national park

Short but a strenuous trail that was approximately 3.4 miles in length. This trail began directly behind the Crater Lake Lodge (where I stayed) and takes you right to the summit of Garfield peak which gives way to a magnificent view of the entire lake. Before embarking on this trail, I was sure to set aside a good amount of time, as it takes most hikers at least an hour and a half to reach the peak. This hike is well worth the final view.

You get an amazing view of the lake and the landscape surrounding. It’s a pretty quick and easy trail. Highly recommend. I went in mid-late fall and while there was snow and ice on the surrounding land, the trail was pretty clear.

Length: 3.4 mi
Elevation gain: 1,069 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Forest, Lake, Partially paved, Views, Rocky, Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #4. Mount Scott Trail

4. Mount Scott Trail crater lake national park

This was a very lengthy but rewarding hike that was five miles in length. Mount Scott makes stops at the highest points in the area and manifests some of the best views of the park as a whole. The length of this trail did not keep me from missing out on magnificent views of Crater Lake and should be taken by all visitors at least once.

Love this hike!! Not too crazy of an incline but amazing views!!! Not a lot of shade and definitely recommend going in the morning/ early afternoon for optimal sunshine ! Plenty of rocks to sit on up top and only a couple hours round trip,, well worth it !! Happy hiking !

Length: 4.2 mi
Elevation gain: 1,259 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Hiking, Walking, Running, Forest, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Snow, Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #5. Discovery Point Trail

5. Discovery Point Trail crater lake national park

A relatively easy hike that was two miles long. Discovery Point is one of the easiest but prettiest hikes in the park. It is a very historical trail that was found by John Hillman in 1953. On this trail, I was able to pretend I was a piece of history discovering the trail right alongside John in 1953.

I parked in the visitor center parking lot and started the walk from there. It’s a pretty easy walk. It gives you good views of Wizard Island, which was cool to see. It started to get hazy right around 2pm, so the view disappeared pretty quickly. I’d try to get there earlier in the morning if you wanna see the full view

Length: 2.4 mi
Elevation gain: 337 ft
Route type: Out & back

Kid friendly, Camping, Cross-country skiing, Hiking, Snowshoeing, Walking, Lake, Views, Wildflowers, Snow, Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #6. Watchman Peak Trail

6. Watchman Peak Trail crater lake national park

Another moderately difficult trail that is packed full of historic significance. It was nicknamed Watchman Peak after the watchman who would sit out at the peaking looking for wildfire’s years prior. I could almost imagine exactly where the watchman camped out and watched for signs of concern or danger and had a blast imagining myself in their shoes.

Amazing view at the top. if you only have time for one hike at Crater Lake, this is the one. A little icy and steep at the end but very doable and a Bucket List view at the top. Much better than the over look view at the trailhead. Able to see 360 and all the major mountain tops for miles.

Length: 1.7 mi
Elevation gain: 400 ft
Route type: Out & back

Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Hiking, Forest, Lake, Partially paved, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife,
Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #7. Wizard Island Summit Trail

7. Wizard Island Summit Trail crater lake national park

The trail is located on the island that sits in the middle of the lake. It is 2.2 miles long and is of moderate difficulty. This trail can only be accessed by boat and gives a unique outlook on the lake and surrounding area. Some obstacles/downed trees, but otherwise an enjoyable, worthwhile trek to the top of the cone with wonderful views.

Length: 2.3 mi
Elevation gain: 751 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Nature trips, Bird watching, Forest, Lake, Views, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #8. Plaikni Falls Trail

8. Plaikni Falls Trail crater lake national park

Just an easy two-mile hike that was not centered around the lake that sits in the middle. This trail allowed for a different set of views and focused on an elegant waterfall that runs on the outside of the basin opposed to the lake itself. Plaikni is one of the newest trails at Crater Lake National Park and is growing in popularity.

Length: 2.0 mi
Elevation gain: 137 ft
Route type: Out & back

Wheelchair friendly, Kid friendly, Stroller friendly, Hiking, Nature trips, Walking, Bird watching, Forest, River, Views,
Waterfall, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Bugs, Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #9. Annie Creek Trail

9. Annie Creek Trail

I thought this was a relatively easy walking trail and measured just over two miles in length. It was another unique trail in that it did not focus on views of the lake but rather gorgeous views around the rim of the basin in the forest and surrounding area. This trail is most popular during the warmer months and is unpassable when snow is on the ground. I was lucky enough to catch a hike on this trail before snow made it impossible to hike.

Absolutely beautiful, one of my favorites! accessible and very easy to navigate from the campground

Length: 2.1 mi
Elevation gain: 305 ft
Route type: Loop

Hiking, Views, Wildflowers, Fee, No dogs

Crater Lake National Park Hiking Trail #10. Sun Notch Trail

10.Sun Notch Trail

This is the easiest and shortest trails in the park and is only half a mile long. It was a great warm-up hike for me and is accessible year-round for all visitors. Although it was short, it offered great views of the lake and Parkal structures in the basin.

The point of this trail seems to be a view of the Lost Ship. This is a loop trail with an incline. Taking it clockwise seems to be less taxing, if that’s your preference. Along with a good view of the Lost Ship there is also cell service at the top. We saw a Golden Eagle!

Length: 0.8 mi
Elevation gain: 127 ft
Route type: Loop

Kid friendly, Walking, Forest, Lake, Views, Snow, Fee, No dogs, Places and Things to Do and See

Crater Lake has many things to offer when visiting to keep you entertained your entire stay. Whether it be for a day, a week, or more, Crater Lake National Park has activities for all ages any time of the year.

A popular time of year for visitors is the winter season and is when I decided to take my visit. Crater Lake offers a wide range of winter activities such as snowshoe walks with a ranger. These ranger walks take twists and turns through snow-covered forests and around the lakes edge. These tours are approximately 1-2 miles in length and vary in terrain difficulty but are magnificent in showing off the beauty of Crater Lake and its surrounding forests.

I found myself getting lost in the views and shutting out the rest of the world during these ranger walks. At any time during the day, it was not unusual to find thrill seekers of all ages hopping on a sled and taking a dive down one of Crater Lakes many snowy slopes. For a more sophisticated thrill, there were designated areas for snowboarders and skiers to hit the slopes while enjoying beautiful views of the park. The calm walks with the ranger were more my pace and enjoyed the relaxing time in nature.

In the warmer months, one of the most popular activities is trolley and boat tours. Trolley tours are offered everyday with minimal wait time through the months of July to September. The trolley is a very relaxing and enjoyable activity for all ages that runs thirty-three miles through forests and cliffs overlooking the lake. The trolley makes seven stops that allow for passengers to take pictures and enjoy the astonishing views. For entertainment, the trolley offers trivia while touring to spice up the experience. The boat tours of Crater Lake are wildly popular and must be reserved ahead of time.

Boat tours are offered eight times with only two of the tours making a stop at Wizard Island that sits in the middle of the lake. All of the captains are U.S. Coast Guard certified and do an excellent job of providing a safe and exciting experience for the passengers on board. It is important to note that in order to board the boat tour, all passengers must navigate a one-mile trail with a large drop-off to the shore.

Crater Lake National Park also offers programs for kids visiting the park. Junior Ranger Programs and the Every Kid Outdoors initiatives are aimed at giving kids a better understanding of not just the park, but nature in general. These programs are ones that can be completed online with the benefit of earning a pass to the park for free. It is easy to identify these little rangers around the park wearing their bucket hats and ranger gear. Unfortunately, the timing of my visit did not allow for me to partake in the summer month activities. I did however receive much information on summer activities and will have to take another visit to participate in them.

References

U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). History &amp; culture. National Parks Service. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.nps.gov/crla/learn/historyculture/index.htm.

Williams, A. (2021, July 10). Best crater Lake Hikes: 10 Top trails to try. My Open Country. Retrieved September 17, 2021, from https://www.myopencountry.com/best-crater-lake-hikes/.


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