Our last two activities in Crater Lake National Park didn’t even have views of the spectacular 1,943 foot deep lake. Instead, we were treated to views of fossilized volcanic steam vents and a meadow filled with beautiful wildflowers.
To be honest, we weren’t originally going to do the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail. A short loop through a meadow with flowers and no views of Crater Lake… What’s special about that?! Thank goodness we changed our minds because this short walk was one of my favorite parts of the day!
The Castle Crest Wildflower Trail
The Castle Crest Wildflower Trail, originally called Castle Crest Garden, is an easy, 0.5 mile loop trail through a beautiful meadow below Castle Crest Ridge.
The Castle Crest Garden was established in 1929 with the planting of some 200 species of park flowers in the garden. It was the first wildflower garden and trail planned, constructed, and used specifically for visitor education by the national park.
The gentle trail begins in a thick mountain hemlock, lodgepole pine, and red fir forest but the trail quickly emerges in lush, meadow. Five natural springs keep the meadow damp and full of gorgeous and colorful wildflowers, tall grasses, trickling streams, and native flagstone stepping stones to hop along.
As we wandered the sometimes muddy trail, we were treated to blankets of bright pink, purple, yellow, and white flowers and tons of butterflies fluttering through the meadow. Signs identified quite a few of the trees and flowers along the way too.
I LOVED it.
This trail was different, beautiful, quiet and peaceful. We were the only ones on the trail. And, because the meadow sits in a bowl — enclosed on the north and east by Castle Crest Ridge, and on the south and west by low moraines — we were totally isolated from the hustle and bustle of the national park.
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.
- The Castle Crest Garden trailhead is located on East Rim Drive, 0.5 miles from Park Headquarters. You can also follow a 0.25 mile path across the road from the Park Headquarters parking lot to reach the trailhead. The trail is typically covered in snow from October to early July.
- Castle Crest trail guides produced by the Natural History Association of Crater Lake National Park are available at the trailhead for $0.75 or free if returned.
- 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!
- Dogs on-leash are permitted only in developed park areas, Mazama Village, and Lost Creek Campground. Dogs are not permitted on any trails or in undeveloped areas.