Oregon’s only national park (and the fifth oldest in the nation!), Crater Lake National Park is an incredibly popular Pacific Northwest camping destination thanks to its beautiful scenery, abundant hiking trails, and peaceful campgrounds.
Although this Oregon national park has a lot to offer, the obvious focal point is the titular Crater Lake, a stunningly clear and vibrantly blue lake partially filling a caldera created by the volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama over 7,000 years ago. Not only is the lake incredibly picturesque, but it’s also the deepest lake in the United States at 1,949 feet deep.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan the best Crater Lake National Park camping trip!
Best Campgrounds in Crater Lake National Park
There are two developed campgrounds in Crater Lake National Park plus ample backcountry camping opportunities. Both campgrounds are only open during the summer months with backcountry camping open year-round (although it’s difficult to access because of heavy snow).
For a peaceful campground in Crater Lake National Park, look no further than Mazama Campground.
Located just 7 miles from the rim, this forested campground is just minutes from the park’s south entrance. Although it has over 200 total campsites, it never feels too crowded since all the campsites are spaced reasonably far apart.
Reservations are accepted for 75% of the campsites with the remaining 25% reserved for first-come, first-served campers. That said, arrive early as it’s not unusual for the entire campground to fill during the summer months.
Mazama Campground is typically open during June, July, August, and September depending on snow. RV hookups, a dump station, laundry facilities, and restrooms with hot showers are all available. It’s the only place for RV camping in Crater Lake within the park itself.
Learn more about Mazama Campground.
Lost Creek Campground
A smaller more rustic option for camping at Crater Lake, Lost Creek Campground is reserved for tent camping only.
The open season is slightly less long than Mazama Campground, typically opening in early July before closing in early to mid-October. No advance reservations are available. But despite being first-come, first-served, plan to arrive early as all campsites are known to fill by early afternoon, especially during the summer months.
Do note, however, that Lost Creek Campground is rustic. The only amenities besides picnic tables and bearproof lockers at each campsite are vault toilets. There is no running water available here. No campfires are allowed no matter the season.
That said, if you’re okaying with “roughing it,” you’re in for a real treat when you stay here. Just 16 total campsites make for a very quiet, peaceful, and all-around relaxing crater Lake camping experience.
Learn more about Lost Creek Campground.
The Crater Lake backcountry is open for camping year-round.
However, winter backpacking in Crater Lake comes with a variety of winter hazards, including extreme and sudden weather changes as well as risk of avalanche. That said, the national park is popular for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter.
A handful of regulations are in place, although winter backcountry camping is typically allowed anywhere at least a mile from the nearest plowed road and at least 100 feet away from the rim.
Summer backcountry camping is more popular and much more accessible for the variety of visitors. The rules are a little stricter in that you must camp in one of five designated backcountry campsites (although dispersed camping is allowed in certain areas).
A backcountry permit is required for overnight stays in the backcountry. These are free of charge and can only be obtained at the start of your trip (no advance reservations are available). You must follow all rules and regulations, including proper food storage and, of course, abiding by the Leave No Trace Principles.
For backpacking in Crater Lake National Park, a few of the most popular trip ideas include the 20.3-mile Bald Crater Loop, 24.8-mile Small PCT Loop, and the 30-mile Large PCT Loop.
Speaking of the Pacific Crest Trail, 33 miles of this famous 2,560-mile hiking trail pass through the national park.
Learn more about backcountry camping in Crater Lake National Park.
Best Campgrounds Near Crater Lake National Park
In addition to the two developed Crater Lake National Park campgrounds, there are numerous campgrounds just outside the park’s boundaries.
- Crater Lake RV Park – Located in the nearby town of Prospect, Crater Lake RV Park is a great choice for RV campers that prefer full amenities.
- Diamond Lake Campground – Diamond Lake Campground in Umpqua National Forest has 238 campsites (including 51 lakeside campsites). RVs and tents are welcome. Flush toilets and hot showers are available. Beautiful views of Mount Bailey and Mount Thielson abound.
- Clearwater Falls Campground – Also in Umpqua National Forest, Clearwater Falls Campground is perfect for those that prefer a small campground over a large, sprawling one. It has 9 campsites and is best suited for tent camping or small RVs/trailers.
- Natural Bridge Campground – Situated alongside the Rogue River, Natural Bridge Campground is conveniently located just 20 minutes from Crater Lake. It has 17 private, spacious campsites with plenty of room in between each. It’s part of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
- Lemolo Lake / Crater Lake North KOA – Fans of KOA camping will love the Lemolo Lake / Crater Lake North KOA. Situated a short drive from the north entrance to the park, this KOA has a mix of RV sites with full-hookups, grassy tent camping sites, and cabin rentals. Of course, it comes with full amenities, including Wi-Fi, as well as numerous summertime activities.
These are just a small handful of the great campgrounds near Crater Lake.
Other Crater Lake National Park Lodging Options
Camping is just one way to enjoy visiting Crater Lake National Park. A rustic lodge and cabin rentals are also available.
Crater Lake Lodge
Not everyone enjoys camping – and that’s okay!
If you still want to visit Crater Lake National Park without “roughing it,” then a stay at Crater Lake Lodge is likely just for you.
Crater Lake Lodge boasts 71 beautiful rooms many with views overlooking the lake. A dining room and bar/lounge are located onsite. The lodge is typically open from mid-May to mid-October.
Learn more about Crater Lake Lodge.
The Cabins at Mazama Village
Your other option for lodging in Crater Lake National Park is a stay in the rustic Cabins at Mazama Village.
Thera are 40 total rooms available, each with one or two queen beds as well as a private bathroom with a shower. Know that the cabins are quite rustic with no Wi-Fi, televisions, or phones in the rooms.
The Cabins at Mazama Village are just minutes from Annie Creek Restaurant and Giftshop as well as the Mazama Village Store. They’re typically open from late May to late September.
Learn more about the Cabins at Mazama Village.
Best Things to Do in Crater Lake National Park
A wide range of activities and must-see destinations are available to help you make the most of your Crater Lake camping trip.
- Rim Drive – The historic Rim Drive is the number one thing to do at Crater Lake. The 33-mile loop takes you around the entirety of the lake. The scenery and views of the lake are unbeatable.
- Wizard Island – Peering down at Wizard Island (the large cinder cone remaining from Mount Mazama’s volcanic collapse) is majestic in and of itself. But for a real treat consider a Wizard Island Boat Tour. This consists of a tour of the lake’s perimeter plus three hours to explore the island. Don’t miss the Wizard Island Summit Trail!
- Hiking – A day hike is my favorite activity at Crater Lake. Luckily, there are hiking trails galore! My favorite Crater Lake day hike is the 5-mile roundtrip hike up Mount Scott, the highest point within the national park.
- Tours – A variety of Crater Lake tours (including the above-mentioned Wizard Island Boat Tour) let you explore the park in style. Both boat tours and trolley tours are available.
- Ranger Programs – Kids and adults alike love the summer ranger programs at Crater Lake National Park. Ranger talks, guided hikes, and evening programs are offered as well as the ever-popular Junior Ranger Programs.
- Swimming – Swimming is allowed in Crater Lake but it’s not exactly easy to access the beach. Cleetwood Cove, the only location where swimming is legal, requires an exceedingly steep 1.1-mile one-way hike to reach via the Cleetwood Cove Trail.
- Winter Activities – Winter at Crater Lake is truly special. In addition to winter backcountry camping, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular. Some downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and even snowmobiling opportunities are available. Consider a ranger-guided snowshoe walk.
Three nights is ideal to experience the full breadth of what Crater Lake has to offer, although two nights or even one night will do. In fact, many visitors just make this national park a day trip with a loop around Rim Drive.
How to Plan Your Crater Lake National Park Camping Trip
Here is some additional information to help you plan the perfect camping trip to Crater Lake National Park:
- When to Visit – Crater Lake is open year-round, although most of the park’s facilities, campgrounds, and roads are only open in July, August, and September.
- Entrance Fees – It costs $30 in summer (May 22 to October 1) or $20 in winter (November 1 to May 21) to enter the national park for seven days in one car. Learn more about Crater Lake park fees.
- Bringing a Pet – Pets are welcome in the national park but are restricted to parking lots, paved roads, paved trails, and at Mazama Campground. Pets are allowed on only a handful of hiking trails. Your dog must be on leash at all times!
- RV Camping – The best place for RV camping in Crater Lake National Park is at Mazama Campground. Both RV hookups and a dump station are available here. RVs are not allowed at Lost Creek Campground.
- Camping in Winter – Winter camping at Crater Lake is a real treat. It is allowed in backcountry areas only so make sure to bring the best winter camping gear so you remain warm, dry, and safe.
The Crater Lake National Park website has even more tips on how to best plan your trip, including frequent updates on current weather, road conditions, seasonal closures, and more.
Want More Info?
At Beyond The Tent, we’re here to help make your Crater Lake camping trip as enjoyable as possible!
Check out our additional camping resources for more help planning your trip:
- Family Camping Checklist
- Guide to Camping in the Rain
- How to Plan a Backpacking Trip
- Camping Gear Reviews
- Camping Food & Recipe Ideas
In addition to our guide to the best camping in Oregon and guide to the best RV parks in Oregon, our other best state camping guides and national park camping guides will help you plan the perfect family camping trip.
And, please, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any additional questions you have about camping in Crater Lake National Park – or anywhere else!