Wizard Island is the well-known volcanic cinder cone located just off the western shores of Crater Lake. 7,700 years ago, the eruption and collapse of Mount Mazama created the Crater Lake caldera. A series of later eruptions caused the formation of several cinder cones on the floor of the caldera. The tallest of these cones and only one to rise above the current surface of Crater Lake is Wizard Island!
The top of Wizard Island is just under 7,000 feet above sea level and rises about 760 feet above the surface of Crater Lake. It may not look very big when compared with the size of the lake, but the land area of the island is over 300 acres! The volcanic crater at the top, known as the “Witches Cauldron,” is 500 feet wide and 90 feet deep.
Although Wizard Island can be seen from numerous viewpoints around the rim of Crater Lake, we highly recommend a visit to Wizard Island for a hike with truly unforgettable views from atop the summit!
You are not going to believe all that there is to see and do in Crater Lake. Our downloadable Crater Lake National Park itinerary will help you plan your trip before you arrive and help guide your way around the caldera. We promise to save you time and stress!
HOW TO GET TO WIZARD ISLAND
The only way to get to Wizard Island at Crater Lake National Park is by boat. Transportation to Wizard Island can be booked ahead of time, and we highly recommend you do if a Wizard Island hike is on your bucket list!
There are two options that you can take: the Wizard Island boat tour or the Wizard Island shuttle. The more expensive Wizard Island boat tour combines a narrated tour of the lake’s perimeter with a three-hour visit to the island. The Wizard Island shuttle is a less expensive option with a direct trip to the island (this is what we chose for our family of five).
We booked over two months ahead of our trip and got the last few shuttle boat seats available for advance reservations. (Note: only half of the available boat tour seats are available for advance reservations.) Some tickets are available for same-day bookings and can be purchased up to two hours before departure at the Crater Lake Lodge front desk or inside the Annie Creek Gift Shop at Mazama Village. Two hours prior to departure, tickets may be purchased at the Cleetwood Cove kiosk in the Cleetwood Cove parking lot; however, these tickets typically sell out quickly. Be sure to get here early if you want to attempt this option!
Boat trips are seasonal (operating only during summer months), dependent upon weather conditions, and subject to change. So, be sure to check the park website for current information. You may also call the park at (541)-594-3000.
Map of the Cleetwood Cove parking area, courtesy of the National Park Service
In order to get down to the boat dock, park at the Cleetwood Cove parking area located along East Rim Drive. This large parking area is located across the street from the Cleetwood Cove trailhead.
Check in at the kiosk and hike 1.1 miles down the steep Cleetwood Cove Trail (allow 30-45 minutes to get to the dock from the trailhead). The Cleetwood Cove Trail is the only trail that provides access to the lake and the boat landing.
The trail drops 700 feet in elevation from the rim to the lake’s edge through a series of switchbacks. Though going down may be seem easy, the strenuous hike uphill to return to the parking area should not be underestimated. Please note that the trail is not recommended for those with medical or physical issues.
The trail is mostly packed dirt and rock, and while you don’t need hiking boots on your way down, you should wear closed-toed shoes to be safe.
Boats depart from Cleetwood Cove and arrive at the dock at Governors Bay on the south side of Wizard Island. You’ll have three hours to spend on the island—enough time to hike to the summit, take in the views and explore.
HIKING THE WIZARD ISLAND SUMMIT TRAIL
Map of the Wizard Island Summit trail, courtesy of the National Park Service
The Wizard Island Summit Trail is a rocky, 2.2-mile round trip hike with about 750 feet elevation gain. Plan for 45-60 minutes to reach the summit. The trailhead for both the summit and Fumarole Bay begins at the end of the dock.
The beginning of the trail is a scramble over rough, volcanic rock and passes through a forest of lichen covered hemlocks that provide nice shade on a warm day. The trail forks early on with the rightmost (northeast) fork leading to the summit.
As the trail moves up the side of the cinder cone via a series of switchbacks, the trees become sparser and the footing changes to loose gravel. We advise having hiking boots or shoes while on this trail.
Although the trail is steep, the reward is great at the top! We packed a lunch and ate at the summit, which was common for the other travelers as well. Since the boats hold only around 40 people, you will not have any trouble finding a private spot with peace and quiet. There is nothing better than lunch with a view!
From the summit, take time to enjoy panoramic views of Crater Lake including notable sites such as Fumarole Bay, Skell Channel and Watchman Peak.
Follow the trail (0.3 miles) all the way around the 90-foot crater at the summit. We were surprised by the variety of colors of volcanic rock at the summit and the diversity of wildflowers!
While there are no official trails, a worn path near the summit trail leads down the loose gravel into the crater, known as the Witches Cauldron.
When you’re done exploring the summit, return the way you came.
WHAT ELSE TO DO ON WIZARD ISLAND
If you still have time after hiking the summit trail, consider swimming, fishing or hiking the trail to Fumarole Bay.
Wizard Island is a great place to take a dip in one of the most pristine lakes on earth! The shoreline of Wizard Island consists of sharp, lava rocks; so, be sure to use caution when entering the water. The average Crater Lake water temperature is about 38 degrees, but it can heat up to 60 degrees in the summer.
Since we visited on opening day for the boat tours, the water was way too cold for my liking! We did dip our toes in while sitting on the dock waiting for the boat to arrive. NOTE: Swimming is only allowed within 100 yards of Wizard Island provided swimmers stay at least 50 feet away from any boat or boat dock.
For those who like to fish, no permit is required to fish from the shores of Wizard Island. Two non-native species exist in the lake, kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. There are no size restrictions and you can take home as much as you want! However, to prevent the introduction of non-native organisms into the lake, only artificial flies and lures may be used.
Map of the Fumarole Bay Trail, courtesy of the National Park Service
If you are a fast hiker and make quick work of the summit trail, consider following the trail to Fumarole Bay (or at least part-way like we did). This trail is not at well-marked and consists entirely of rough, volcanic rock. However, this trail is generally not very crowded and provides beautiful close-up views of Fumarole Bay! If you do choose to hike to Fumarole Bay, be ready for walking on lava rock. We found that hiking poles were a must, as falling means you are sure to get scraped up pretty badly.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO TO WIZARD ISLAND
The boat ride to the island can be chilly even on a warm summer day. We brought raincoats and used them to keep warm and dry as water sprayed over the edge of the shuttle boat while motoring towards Governors Bay. Those sitting on the starboard side of the boat got even wetter and didn’t have coats like we did!
Remember that you’ll be dropped at Wizard Island and will have to wait three hours for pick-up. Be prepared to spend three hours exposed to sun and possibly wind while you explore the island. Temperatures can be cooler on Wizard Island and thunderstorms are possible in the summer.
Bring drinking water since there is none available on the island.
Remember to bring your swim gear if you plan on swimming and fishing pole and tackle if you plan on fishing.
Lava rock is sharp and not forgiving, so it is a good idea to wear closed toe shoes and pack a first aid kit.
There are composting toilets near the dock on the island, and also at Cleetwood Cove.
Camping is NOT permitted on Wizard Island.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON CRATER LAKE AND THE SURROUNDING AREA
- If you are heading to Crater Lake and not sure what to do, we recommend checking out the fantastic blog from Jacob and Emily on The Ultimate Guide to Crater Lake National Park.
- If you’d like a day-by-day guide on what to do in the park, the Crater Lake Itinerary from Kristel is outstanding. She’ll gives some great ideas on how to spend two very full days in the park.
FURTHER INFORMATION ON CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK OR THE SURROUNDING AREA FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- We highly recommend getting a copy of our Crater Lake National Park itinerary ahead of your trip to assist with your planning. We suggest the best places to stay while in the area, the best hikes and the must-do activities while in the park.
- While visiting Crater Lake, you can drive clockwise along the east rim and head to a great hike that is covered in our blog, hiking the Pinnacles Trail. You can also hike the Watchman Peak Trail, which is worth checking out. You should view our blog on Camping in Crater Lake National Park as well. We also have a number of other blogs on Oregon in general, which are worth checking out.
- We have a number of National Park posters that you should look at, including our Crater Lake National Park WPA style poster.
- Finally, our most unique and popular product is when we take a photo that you send to us and turn it into a custom, vintage travel poster. Give us a shot!