5 Best Crater Lake Camping Spots

Last Updated on July 7, 2022 by Alice Benny

Crater Lake Camping – As Oregon’s only national park, Crater Lake is undeniably the state’s leading attraction. It’s also one of the most magnificent national parks in America. There are plenty of activities to explore at Crater Lake National Park, from touring old forests to boating on the pristine water to road-tripping along Rim Drive.

To enjoy your camping experience at Crater Lake National Park, book a reservation for two days or longer. And if you live in southern Oregon, all the better for you because you live close by and can visit the park whenever you want.

This short guide will take you through everything you need to know about camping in Crater Lake. So, without much ado, let’s get started.

A Quick History of the Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake formed about 7,700 years ago when the 12,000-foot volcano tower, Mount Mazama erupted. As the volcano emitted rocks, ash, and pumice into the atmosphere, it could no longer withstand the pressure and eventually crumbled. This volcanic eruption was one of the most significant to be recorded in history. Native Americans witnessed Mount Mazama’s eruption and made the event part of folklore and legends.

After the event, the exposed crater was filled with snowfall and heavy rains from the Cascade Volcanic Arc. And because the water didn’t have any outlet, a lake formed which is now known as Crater Lake.

Crater Lake Campground Check-In Process

The COVID-19 protocols have made a few adjustments in the check-in process to eliminate the indoor check-in process to protect guests and employees. Below are the details:

  • Full payment is required when booking a reservation.
  • Nobody should check in at the store unless there are questions that need to be addressed with an agent.
  • Review the reservation details posted under your name and your designated campsite.
  • See an agent at the store If your name or reservation list is missing.
  • You must adhere to all the posted rules.
  • Remove all your belongings before leaving.
  • There is no need to check out at the end of your stay.

Amenities

When camping at Crater Lake, you’ll enjoy the convenience that comes with restrooms, electricity, gas station, potable water, dump station, and food storage lockers. The campground offers its guests some amenities, including Crater Lake souvenirs, a gift shop, and Annie Creek Restaurant.

You can purchase groceries, firewood, gasoline, among other camp supplies, at the Mazama Camp Store, and the campground allows pets with restrictions, so you can carry your furry friend along.

Where Should You Camp at Crater Lake National Park?

Crater Lake Camping - Mazama Campground
Crater Lake Camping – Mazama Campground

There are many great spots to camp around Crater Lake. A lot will depend on availability. Also consider the types of hikes you want to do and what you want to experience. Learn about the best Crater Lake hikes.

1. Crater Lake Camping – Mazama Campground

One of the best places to camp at Crater Lake National Park is the Mazama Campground. This 214-site campground boasts all the camping essentials, including space for tents, fire pits, and camping tables. The campground is seven miles from the crater rim, and reservations are open from June through September.

In June, some campsites at the Mazama Campground are available on a first-come-first-served basis, but most are reservation-only. In July, August, and September, all sites are reservation-only.

Mazama Campground fills up quickly during the peak months. So, you should book a reservation in advance if possible. If you’re planning to visit in June without a reservation, arrive at the campsite by noon as that’s when most people check in and out.

Every site at Mazama has a picnic table, fire ring, and food storage lockers. Portable water and flush toiletries are also readily available. What’s more, the forested setting and spacious sites don’t make you feel like other campers are inviting your area, despite being a crowded campground most of the season.

The campground also offers a wide range of nightly ranger programs to make your stay memorable. In addition to the programs, you can utilize popular amenities, such as laundry machines and coin showers. Your visit to Mazama Campground will never be boring! Let those childhood memories grow by booking a reservation.

2. Lost Creek Campground

Lost Creek Campground is another campsite at Crater Lake National Park. It’s located three miles below the Pinnacles crater off rim drive and is made of 16 sites that can accommodate up to ten tents each.

Unlike Mazama where campers can book a reservation in advance, this campground operates on a first-come-first-served basis. Campers self-register and pay either by cash or check upon arrival. The campground is open between June and October, but the best months to camp in Crater Lake are between July and August. During that time, spots fill up by noon.

It’s also worth mentioning that this is a simple campground with minimum amenities and nonpotable water. So, if you’re looking for something a little more rugged to satisfy your camping needs, the Lost Creek campground might be your cup of tea.

Crater Lake Camping - Lost Creek Campground
Crater Lake Camping – Lost Creek Campground

3. Backcountry Camping

If you’re an adventurous camper who loves overnight hiking, backcountry might be a better option for camping at Crater Lake. If you want to sleep overnight in the park, you need to obtain a permit at the Steel Visitor Center or Canfield Ranger Station.

The good news is that this permit is free and valid for the date and locations where you want to camp and hike in Crater Lake. In addition to the permit, you also need a park entrance pass which, of course, is a fee and must be valid during the period of your stay. 

Before taking on this adventure, make sure you’re acquainted with all backcountry activities because it can be a dangerous adventure. Bring enough food, water, and clothing, and avoid scented items.

Finally, check the weather forecast before you leave because thunderstorms and rain showers occur occasionally. In summer, be on the lookout for wildfires and take the proper precautions.

4. Lemolo Lake Campgrounds and Resort

Lemolo Lake is located north of Diamond Lake and has several campgrounds, including East Lemolo Campground, Inlet Campground, Bunker Hill Campground, Pool Creek Campground, and Lemolo Resort.

Lemolo Lake is a popular campsite during the summer and winter months and is a few minutes drive from Crater Lake National Park. The views of wooded shorelines and Mount Thielsen will surely make camping a beautiful adventure.

5. Clearwater Falls Campground

Clearwater Falls is a small undeveloped campground, but it’s worth mentioning. It has nine campsites and four picnic sites with vault toilets also available at Clearwater Falls Campground.

Campers should bring enough drinking water as well as a mosquito repellent. Unfortunately, this campground does not provide the view of the waterfall despite being close to one, but the good news is that it’s a 25-minute drive from Crater Lake.

When Should You Visit the Crater Lake National Park?

Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, and there isn’t a time of the year that’s better for visiting because each season has its own beauty. For example, summer has amazing weather, winter has picturesque snowfalls, fall boasts gorgeous sunsets, and spring brings melting snow and waterfalls accompanied by thunderstorms.

That said, summer is the peak season for camping at Crater Lake. Best Time to Visit Crater Lake The park’s sophisticated campgrounds and all other amenities are open during this time. But that doesn’t mean you are limited to only camping during the summer months.

Crater Lake camping in winter can also be fun, although you’ll need to obtain a permit to camp in some places. If you want to visit the park in winter but aren’t up for free camping, check out Crater Lake Lodge, owned by the National Park Service. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are some of the popular activities during winter.

Crater Lake Camping

There’s plenty to do in Crater Lake National Park. Don’t miss Wizard Island and the Rim Village Historic District. If you’re looking for a hiking trail, check out Annie Creek Canyon, Cleetwood Cove Trail, or the portion of the expansive Pacific Crest Trail that passes through the park. Or, explore nearby Umpqua National Forest or Rogue River. After a days of adventure, relax and take a drive down Rim Drive for amazing scenery.

Let’s face it, Crater Lake is one of the purest lakes in the world, the deepest in North America, and arguably has the most interesting backstory. In addition to the breathtaking natural beauty, Crater Lake is the only national park in Oregon and a product of one of the most significant eruptions in history.

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