HOLY MOLY. That was all I could think when I stepped out of the truck and up to the rim of the Crater Lake caldera early in the morning. With the sun in my eyes, I squinted across the lake, took in the breathtaking panoramic view, and let out a sigh… Crater Lake is absolutely gorgeous.
Our plan for our day at Crater Lake National Park was to drive the entire 33.0 mile Rim Drive around the lake, stopping at the scenic viewpoints and interesting sights and hiking a trail or two along the way. We entered the park through the West Entrance on Highway 62, and started our traveling West Rim Drive. Our first stop was Discovery Point Overlook.
Discovery Point Overlook is the spot where gold prospector John Wesley Hillman first spotted Crater Lake in 1853, calling it “Deep Blue Lake.”
Discovery Point Trail
Knowing that there are somewhere around 30 scenic viewpoints and roadside pullouts along scenic Rim Drive was the only way we could pull ourselves away from the views at Discovery Point Overlook.
We chose to drive straight to this overlook to begin our day of adventure because we had a limited amount of time in the park. If you have more time, you can park at Crater Lake Lodge and Rim Village and walk 1.1 miles (one way) to this scenic viewpoint.
The Discovery Point Trail, a part of the larger Rim Trail, travels northwest along the rim of Crater Lake through a beautiful forest of mountain hemlocks and whitebark pines, past Discovery Point, to the Watchman Overlook and Merriam Point. The trail begins at an elevation of 7,050 feet and gains no more than 100 feet along its route. Between the trees, hikers are treated to views of the lake, the surrounding mountains, and Wizard Island.
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.
- Discovery Point Trail connects the west end of Rim Village and the Discovery Point Overlook, traveling about a little over 1.0 mile (one way) along the rim of the crater and paralleling West Rim Drive. It is a great family hike with amazing views of the lake and Wizard Island.
- The fairly level, dirt trail is covered in snow from October to early July, however, conditions vary from year to year.
- At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States.
- 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!
- Dogs on-leash are permitted in the park but only in developed areas and within Mazama Village and Lost Creek Campground. Dogs are not permitted on trails or in undeveloped areas.