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Jill Sanford | 07.21.2017

Crater Lake is one of the most pristine lakes in the world, the deepest lake in North America, and hands down one of the most interesting. The only national park in Oregon, it was formed about 7,700 years ago when a volcano now known as Mount Mazama blew. It was one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history, and what was once a 12,000-foot peak was decimated. In it’s place was a caldera, a cauldron-like cavity that filled with rain and snow over the years to form what we now refer to as Crater Lake.

The surrounding mountain ridges provide some of the most scenic and iconic views in the Northwest. Plenty of options for outdoor recreation abound here, including hiking, interpretive boat rides, wildflower viewing, waterfall explorations, cycling, and cliff jumping.

It’s the kind of place that is best enjoyed over a few days, and unless you want to spring for a room at the historic but spendy Crater Lake Lodge, you’ll probably want to pitch a tent in one of these camping areas:
 

  • Mazama Village Campground: 6 miles from Crater Lake, this fully supported campground features 212 sites, a gas station, a restaurant, and quite a bit of traffic.
  • Lost Creek Campground: Unlike Mazama Village, this more modest and remote campsite is removed from the regular tourist activities of the park. It’s the only other camping area located within the boundaries of the park.
  • Huckleberry Mountain Campground: Located just outside of the park, this primitive camping area is closed to OHV trails and is popular among off-road vehicle enthusiasts. It’s also a good option for when other campgrounds are full.
  • Thielsen Forest Camp: The major highlight of this Forest Service camping area outside the park is that it’s free and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Toketee Lake Campground: Although it is currently closed, this camp is a good one to have on your radar for future trips. It’s located near Toketee Falls and the North Umpqua Hot Springs.
  • Lightning Springs: If you are interested in a short but sweet backcountry hike into a place to set up camp for the night, this camping area is less than a mile in from the trailhead.
  • Pacific Crest Trail: There are plenty of backcountry campsites along the PCT, but you will need a special permit to set up camp here unless you are thru-hiking the whole thing. 

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