We only had a couple of hours in Crater Lake National Park on the first night we visited. It was just enough time to walk all through the historic Crater Lake Lodge and grounds, check out the ground floor museum exhibits, stop in the gift shop, and walk down to the Sinnott Memorial Observation Station.
We stopped at the historic Steel Visitor Center as well, but it was already closed for the evening and even the Anne Creek Overlook was almost too dark to really get a good view… so we made it our first stop in the park the next day!
Annie Creek flows beside Highway 62 for more than 10.0 miles. Half of that distance, which includes a large waterfall, runs through a deep, stream-cut canyon bordered by vertical pumice cliffs that have eroded into pinnacles and vertical shafts.
Within Crater Lake National Park there are three options to check out Annie Creek:
- Annie Creek Canyon Viewpoint: From this scenic viewpoint, you can see the sheer, vertical canyon walls cut from columnar scoria and topped with volcanic ash. Signs tell the story of the oddly shaped columns in the canyon walls: As steam pushed vertically out of the lava flows, the rock around it hardened to create vertical shafts in the rock.
- Annie Falls Picnic Area: This small picnic area, about 5.0 miles south of Mazama Village, has a small loop road with a few picnic tables scattered about. At the end of the loop road, on the south side, you can sort of see Annie Creek Falls in the bottom of the canyon, but it is far away and the view of the waterfall is obstructed by trees.
- Annie Creek Canyon Trail: If you have time for a hike, the moderate, 1.7 mile Annie Creek Canyon Loop Trail starts at the Mazama Campground, behind the amphitheater, between loops D and E. It descends into the canyon along the creek and features wildflowers and even wildlife. Most visitors (like us) tend to focus their activities around the lake, so this trail is a great opportunity to hike with fewer crowds.
Know Before You Go
- Crater Lake National Park, Oregon’s only national park, does not have a physical street address, so it can be hard to locate us using GPS. We made the historic Crater Lake Lodge our first stop, which is located at 565 Rim Drive, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97604.
- At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and the principal feature of Crater Lake National Park.
- The 33 mile Rim Drive that travels around Crater Lake’s caldera features spectacular views of the lake and interpretive signage at all of the main vista points.
- Good for seven days, admissions fees are $30.00/vehicle, $25.00/motorcycle in the summer and $15.00/motorcycle in the winter, and $15.00/pedestrian or bicycle.
- The national park is open year-round, 24 hours a day but many of the park’s roads, trails, and facilities are closed seasonally.
- During periods of rain and snow, Crater Lake is often hidden by clouds — it is completely invisible about 50% of the time in the winter!
- Summers at Crater Lake are short but typically sunny. July, August, and September are your best bets for warm, dry weather. However, it can snow any day of the year.
- The park’s North Entrance is closed for about seven months each year. It closes at the first snowfall or on November 1, whichever comes first and reopens in early to mid-summer. The park’s South Entrance and West Entrance are open year-round. We visited the park in late July and the roads had only been open for a week!
- Crater Lake National Park has two visitor centers. The Steel Visitor Center at Park Headquarters is open every day except December 25 — 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from mid-April to early November and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm the rest of the year. The Rim Visitor Center at Rim Village is open daily from late May to late September from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
- Dogs on-leash are permitted within the park but only within developed areas and within Mazama Village and Lost Creek Campground. Dogs are not permitted on any trails or in undeveloped areas.