We had an entire day planned for the exploration of Crater Lake National Park but arrived the evening before early enough to get some sightseeing in early! After checking out the historic Crater Lake Lodge, we wandered over to the Nicholas J. Sinnott Memorial Observation Station And Museum.
The Sinnott Memorial Observation Station is a small natural history museum and scenic viewpoint that sits on Victor Rock, 900 feet above the surface of Crater Lake and 7100 feet above sea level.
The rustic stone and wood shelter, also known as the Sinnott Memorial Overlook, is tucked into the side of the steep cliffs surrounding the lake. Throughout its construction, architect Merel S. Sager spent hours in a rowboat on the lake to ensure the building blended into the caldera cliffs and remained nearly invisible.
A short but steep, historic walkway with stone stairs and breathtaking views leads from Rim Village to the overlook’s 40 foot by 40 foot enclosed exhibit and observation room and a covered open-air balcony that delivers spectacular views of Crater Lake, Wizard Island, Llao Rock, and on a clear day, Mount Thielsen outside the national park.
Inside the museum, you’ll find a video program and exhibits highlighting the geologic history of Mount Mazama, the collapse of the volcano, and the formation of Crater Lake. During the summer, ranger talks are presented daily.
About Sinnott Memorial Overlook
Construction of the observation station began in the fall of 1930. It was dedicated in July of 1931 and quickly became one of Crater Lake’s most popular viewing spots.
Its name honors Nicholas J. Sinnott who represented eastern Oregon in the US House of Representatives from 1913 to 1928, served as chairman of the House Public Lands Committee, and actively supported Crater Lake National Park. The Sinnott Memorial was the first museum building constructed in a national park at the specific direction of Congress. The Sinnott Memorial building was renovated and the museum exhibits were updated prior to the park’s centennial in 2003.
Know Before You Go
- The Sinnott Memorial Overlook at Crater Lake National Park is located behind the Rim Visitor Center, near the Crater Lake Lodge, at 565 Rim Drive, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97604.
- The overlook is open daily (weather permitting) from late June through October. Hours are 9:30 am to 6:30 pm in July and August, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm in June and September, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in October.
- Ranger talks are presented at the overlook daily from late June to late September.
- Sinnott Memorial Overlook was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Sinnott Memorial Building No. 67 in 1988.
- The path to the overlook is not accessible to people with limited mobility, as it is located down a steep, historic walkway with stairs.
- At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and the principal feature of Crater Lake National Park.
- 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.