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RV Adventures to: Crater Lake!

For most of us, a big part of why we get an RV is to go on adventures and see extraordinary new places. If you are looking for something incredible, Crater Lake in Oregon may be precisely what you are looking for.

This extraordinary National Park features a geographical feature that is unlike any in the world. The lake is both very deep and very clean, making it stunning in winter or summer.

In the summer, it is a stunning crystal clear lake surrounded by rock cliffs and vegetation. In the winter, it is often filled with mist, giving the impression of a lake of clouds. Here’s what you need to know about RVing in Crater Lake in the summer or winter.

About Crater Lake

Crater Lake has been an attraction for people across the world for many years. It holds the distinction of being the deepest lake in the USA and the 9th deepest in the entire world. The water is very clear, and thanks to the depths it looks strikingly blue.

The lake was formed when Mount Mazama erupted around 7700 years ago. Within only a few days, it went from a mountain to an deep crater. Ash settled for many miles around the US and Canada.

Since then, there hasn’t been a major eruption, but there has been some new volcanic activity deep within the crater, which has helped the crater to form into the shape it is today and also created two islands.

What to do at Crater Lake

There are really two experiences of visiting and RVing in Crater Lake, on in the winter, and one in the summer. Both experiences are well worth having, and both offer different challenges. Here’s what you need to know about RVing in Crater Lake in the summer and the winter.

What to do in Summer

Explore the Caves

Caves can be a wonderful opportunity for exploration. Few things can get the heart pounding quite like diving or climbing down into a cave.

Crater Lake contains a number of caves which vary in difficulty of access. There are over forty caves in and around Crater Lake, 31 of which are within the rim.

Many are near the surface of the lake where it’s convenient to dive. There are also five cave sites that may have more than one cave that you can explore outside of the rim.

Boat to Wizard Island

This fascinating little island is like a miniature volcano within the middle of the lake. It was formed during later, smaller eruptions. It is now forested and offers some very gentle areas which may be easier to hike than some other parts of the area.

Of course, it also has the advantage of offering stunning views of the lake and surrounding countryside from pretty much anywhere you go on the lake. You can also see the second island in the lake from this island. The second island is known as the Phantom ship, as it looks very similar to a ship from the side. This sharply-cliffed island is generally not a good place to walk, but is interesting to look at.

Hike Through the Forest

When most people go to Crater Lake, they are thinking primarily about visiting the lake itself. However, there is a lot to see at this park aside from the lake. The lake is only 10% of the park.

The rest is occupied by gorgeous old-growth forest. You will walk among fifteen different species of conifers, some of them massive.

You can expect to see mountain lions, elk, black bears, and much more as you explore these forests. Of course, forest areas will likely also be your camping destination, so you can look forward to seeing quite a lot of these gorgeous trees as you enjoy your trip.

Camping at Crater Lake in the Summer

There are two developed campgrounds in the park, but only one is open to RVs. Mazama Campground is open in the summer only. It has 214 sites for RVs and tents. June is first come first serve, while in July, August, and September, 75% of the available sites can be reserved.

This campground is tucked into a gorgeous section of old-growth forest. You’ll have a picnic table, food locker, and fire ring. You can expect to find most amenities you normally find at an RV camp, including ice and firewood for sale, a camp store, laundry, etc.

What to do in the Winter

If you take RVing seriously, you might want to try Crater Lake in the winter. Considering that this park is in the midst of Oregon, it should come as no surprise that RVing here in the winter is no picnic.

You must be a serious RVer able to handle inclement weather conditions before you consider being here in the winter. However, if you are confident that you are up to the challenge, it can be a lot of fun to RV at Crater Lake in the winter. Here are some things to consider:

Enjoy the Views

it’s pretty cold at Crater Lake in the winter, but it’s also stunningly beautiful. Whether you’re a photographer or just enjoy beautiful natural sights, you will surely love this area in the winter.

The sun shining off of the mist over the lake is truly one of the most stunning spectacles you can see. Many of the most impressive views of the park are available right from your RV, so you may not even need to get out into the cold to enjoy them.

Other stunning sites are available short hike from areas where you can park your RV. If you want a trip that allows you to take in the winter sights with relative comfort, this may be an ideal trip for you.

Skiing, Sledding or Snowshoe walking

There are designated routes where you can ski in safety and solitude. Skiing around this pristine lake is one of the most gorgeous experiences you are likely to have.

there are all kinds of hills that are ideal for sledding throughout this park, although there aren’t necessarily any designated spots for it. Bring your sled along and have fun scouting places to go sledding from your RV.

Wherever you ski or sled, keep in mind that there are not any chair lifts in this area. Rescues could take as much as 24 hours in places where there have been avalanches.

There are avalanche zones clearly described so that you can stay out of them, so if you choose to enter a place where avalanches may occur, it is essential that you understand avalanche safety and carry the necessary tools.

If you’d like something a bit tamer, you can take a ranger-guided snowshoe walk and see all of the traces of wildlife clearly pointed out for you.

Whatever you do in your RV or out of it, keep in mind that this is a remote and often unforgiving area, particularly in the winter. Take winter safety seriously to keep yourself safe.

Where to Camp

Campgrounds are not open to tents or RVs overnight in the winter. If you want to stay in the camp overnight, you will need a backpacking license. If you have a particular overnight adventure in mind and are confident backpacking and roughing it on your own, you can consider leaving your RV in one of the nearby campgrounds and go on foot. For a less intense adventurer, you will probably want to camp outside of the park.

There are a number of places to camp in the winter outside of the camp. Annie Creek Park has camping with toilets and shelter, although they don’t have water.  Jackson F Kimball State Park has 10 campsites and toilets although no water. They usually are open from April to mid-December.

Jo’s Motel and Campground has campgrounds during the winter but will close in very inclement conditions. It’s a good idea to call around ahead of time to find accommodations for your adventure.

Be Aware of Closures

Crater Lake often closes partially or completely in the winter due to inclement weather. Entrances close to vehicles, including RVs, when there is significant snow. Typically, you can find at least one entrance open, but not always.

Have Fun on Your RV Trip to Crater Lake

Crater Lake can be an incredibly fun place to bring your RV, whether you are looking for a winter or a summer adventure. Be sure to plan ahead, particularly if you will be going on a winter trip. Whenever you go, this is a breathtaking place that is sure to make a big impression.