Though the season is short, getting a chance to spend a night or two camping in Crater Lake National Park is something that is worth doing if you can arrange it into your vacation plans. There aren’t many options in the park, but they two that are available will allow you to be in the park early in the morning when (we think) the light is the best for photography and crowds are typically at the lowest point in the day. Crater Lake doesn’t have much in the way of nearby lodging options outside of the park, so if you don’t stay in the park then you are faced with a 60-to-90-minute drive into the park before you can start enjoying your visit here.
Since so many people visit the park in July and August reservations can be tough to come by, but if you are able to get a spot ahead of time (or in the first-come, first-served campsites), then we recommend giving camping in Crater Lake a shot!
We hope this guide will give you a few pointers on where you may want to camp and what to expect when planning you trip.
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS: OVERVIEW
Crater Lake is the only National Park in Oregon, and it’s not a secret by any means. Over 750,000 visitors come to Crater Lake, with most of them coming between June and September. Since snow comes early and stays late, coming even in late June doesn’t guarantee you’ll have access to most of the park, which is why July and August are the peak months.
The good news for those that camp is that even though the park is busy during the day, there is only limited lodging in the park (Crater Lake Lodge and camping), which means that if you end up staying the night you’ll be here with few others. This will give you the opportunity to enjoy the park longer in the day than most visitors.
If you are in need of camping supplies, there are a few choices. First, the stores at the Rim Village Visitor Center, Mazama Village and the Steel Visitor Center offer limited supplies, such as food and souvenirs. If you are in need of additional goods, it’s a bit of a haul. About 10 miles away there is a small grocery store in Prospect, OR. For camping gear or additional goods, head to Medford, OR, which is about a 90 minutes away. Like most National Parks, the best way camp is to come prepared or do without so you can enjoy your time in the park fully.
We’ve done the hard work for you and put together this itinerary for Crater Lake National Park, which has all the best hiking trails to hike based on your skill level, multi-day itineraries, what to bring and what to see in the area.
- Location: The Mazama Campground is located on the southwest side of the park and near the most popular entrance to the park. Directions from Medford, OR to Mazama Campground.
- Accessible via: Vehicle
- Reservations: Offered in July through September for 75% of the campsites, with the rest being first-come, first-served. Reservations for the Mazama Lake Campground.
- Capacity: 214 sites.
- Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: Yes / No / Yes.
- Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and showers.
- Nearby: The Mazama Campground is near the main entrance to the park, but it is about 3.5 miles from the Rim Village. Still, there are a few things to do in the area. The Godfrey Glen Trail is an easy, 1.2-mile (round-trip) hike that begins 1.7 miles east of Mazama Village. It heads through a forest with views of a canyon. Another option is the easy Annie Creek Canyon Trail, which begins between loops D and E of the campground. It travels along a small creek as it descends to a canyon. It has about 300 feet of elevation gain. Inside the campground is also the amphitheater, which hosts nightly ranger programs that are great for the entire family.
- Additional details: The Mazama Campground is quite large, especially for a National Park Campground. In addition to campsites suitable for tents and RV’s there are also cabins. Click here for the latest information on the Mazama Campground
Map of Mazama Campground in Crater Lake National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service
Lost Creek Campground:
- Location: The Lost Creek Campground is down Pinnacles Road on the south side of Crater Lake National Park. Directions from Medford, OR to the Lost Creek Campground.
- Accessible via: Vehicle
- Reservations: None.
- Capacity: 16 sites.
- Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
- Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
- Nearby: The Lost Creek Campground is right nearby a great short trail, the Pinnacles Trail. This easy trail is just under a mile and provides great views of the 100-foot peaks formed by volcanic ash and gases. You are also only a few miles to the Sun Notch Trail, which is another easy trail that offers great views of Crater Lake. If you are in for something a bit more intense, take the Mount Scott Trail, which has over 1200 feet of elevation gain on the way to the tallest point in Crater Lake National Park. It is about 2.5 miles to the east after you return to Park Loop Road (the trailhead is about 12 minutes from the Lost Creek Campground).
- Additional details: This part of the park is not open until the snow is cleared, and that can be as late as the second week in July. It is out of the way, rustic and only for tents, but it’s great if you need a place to stay for the night. Be advised that the campground is quite buggy. But if you are prepared, the quietness of this campground is well worth it! Click here for the latest information on the Lost Creek Campground
Map of Lost Creek Campground in Crater Lake National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - GROUP CAMPING
Group camping is not offered at Crater Lake National Park.
CAMPING OUTSIDE CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
The large Mazama Campground can usually take care of the capacity needs of most people wanting to camp at Crater Lake National Park, but if you want more in the way of amenities, full hookups or just want to be lower in elevation, then you may want to stay outside the park. Here are a few options:
- There are about 6 campgrounds between the Mazama Campground and Medford, OR.
- There are several campgrounds to the south of Crater Lake in nearby Chiloquin, OR.
- Diamond Lake is about 14 miles to the north and the home of four different campgrounds that can be good options for you.
If you want to boondock, then there is a decent selection of free campgrounds near Crater Lake National Park. There are also a number of National Forests nearby that offer dispersed camping as well Fremont-Winema National Forest and Umpqua National Forest are two that you may want to check out.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- Ahead of your trip we recommend downloading our Crater Lake National Park itinerary to help you plan out your vacation and get the most out of your limited time in the park!
- You should check out our other blogs on Crater Lake, including Wizard Island in Crater Lake, and Hiking the Pinnacles Trail and Hiking the Watchman Peak Trail. We also go into detail on the Best Hikes in Crater Lake National Park.
- If you like WPA Style posters, then check out our Crater Lake National Park posters that we have to offer.
- If you want a really unique memory of your trip, then send us a photo and we’ll create a custom, vintage travel poster. It’s a very special memento, and we promise you’ll be happy with the results!