Until our stop at The Pinnacles, every one of our activities at Crater Lake National Park centered around views of the massive, deep, gorgeous blue lake. After taking in scenic views of the lake. We started in Rim Village, visiting historic Crater Lake Lodge and Sinnott Memorial Overlook, then worked our way around the lake stopping at stunning viewpoints like Discovery Point, Merriam Point, Llao Rock, Pumice Point, Wineglass Viewpoint, and Cloudcap Overlook.
After checking out the amazing views at the Kerr Notch Phantom Ship Overlook, we headed down Pinnacles Spur Road to get off the main scenic Rim Drive, escape the national park crowds, and see some really cool rock formations.
The Pinnacles Overlook and trailhead are located in the southeast corner of Crater Lake National Park in an area known as Pinnacle Valley. They are at the end of the Pinnacles Spur Road, 7.0 miles southeast of the Phantom Ship Overlook off of the main Rim Drive.
The pinnacles are a collection of volcanic pumice spires called fossil fumaroles that stand up to 100 feet tall along the south edge of Wheeler Creek, a tributary of Sand Creek.
The Pinnacles Trail is an easy, 0.5 mile, out and back trail along the rim of Pinnacle Valley that totals 1.0 mile. Accessible to wheelchairs and open to bicycles, the trail provides awesome views of the Pinnacles and ends at the national park boundary. Like the Godfrey Glen Trail, where you can also see some pinnacles, it’s a short, flat hike, which makes it very popular with families.
How The Pinnacles Were Formed
Informational signs at the overlook tell how nature sculpted the rocky spires seen today:
A glowing avalanche of gas-rich pumice flowed down Mount Mazama’s slopes during the cataclysmic eruptions, burying a river valley. As steam charged to the surface of the flow through vents, tremendous heat and minerals in the escaping steam welded the sides of the vents. Over thousands of years, erosion has carved away the softer ash and pumice, exposing these mysterious formations.
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 Pinnacles Overlook and trailhead lies at the end of the Pinnacles Spur Road, 7.0 miles southeast of the Phantom Ship Overlook off of the main Rim Drive, on the southeast corner of Crater Lake National Park. The trail is covered in snow from October to early July, however, conditions vary somewhat from year to year.
- 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 developed areas of the park and in Mazama Village and Lost Creek Campground. Dogs are not permitted on any trails or in undeveloped areas.