Crater Lake National Park

Winter at Crater Lake
Driving Distances in Winter

Medford: 80 miles
Klamath Falls: 60 miles
Bend: 145 miles
Eugene: 180 miles
Portland: 300 miles
San Francisco: 450 miles


Winter at Crater Lake National Park is a time of great beauty, extreme quiet, and ultimate solitude, as well as invigorating recreation. The snow season begins in October, and the lake receives an average of 529 inches of snow per year. July, August, and September are generally warm, but snowfall has been recorded during every month of the year. The most snow ever reported on the ground in the park was 21 feet on April 3, 1983.

The area around Rim Village offers cross-country ski trails, from beginners' one-mile loops to advanced runs of almost five miles one-way. For the serious, experienced, and well-prepared winter adventurer, the ski around the lake is a multi-day masterpiece. Snowshoeing with a park ranger is a way to learn about this snowy environment. Deep snows prevent any vehicle use of Rim Drive until early summer. Snowmobiles are permitted only on the park's unplowed North Entrance Road. Ski trails are not groomed.

Much of the park's wildlife escapes the long winter by migrating to nearby valleys, but a few species stay year-round. Clark's nutcrackers, Gray jays, and Steller's jays are common at Rim Village. You may never see a pine marten or snowshoe hare, but you can often find their tracks in the snow during a short trip into the backcountry.

Winter Ecology Walks
Discover what it takes to survive in an area that receives over 500 inches of snow and where winter lasts for nine months of the year! Park rangers and volunteers present ecology walks on snowshoes on weekends throughout the winter season. Various stops are made along the tour route where the ranger will explain how park animals, trees, and humans adapt to survive in this winter wonderland.

Walks last about one and a half hours. Snowshoeing requires little skill, but participants need to be in good condition. Be sure to come with waterproof boots, warm clothes, hats, gloves, and a camera. Children must be at least nine years old, due to size of snowshoes.

Check at Park Headquarters or Rim Village for regularly scheduled walks for the general public or how to arrange walks for organized groups.

Winter Travel Advisory
During the winter months (typically late October through mid-June), the North Entrance to Crater Lake National Park and the Rim Drive around Crater Lake are closed because of deep snow. Visitors must enter the park from the south or west on Highway 62. If you are traveling from the north, either Highway 97 or Highway 230 will connect you to Highway 62. The road to Rim Village is plowed daily. From there, Crater Lake can be viewed on clear days throughout the long winter season.

Road conditions vary, but can often be icy or snowpacked. Be alert to current driving conditions and come prepared with traction tires or devices. Gasoline is not available in the park until late May. Remember to fill up your tank in one of the nearby towns (Chiloquin, Prospect, Diamond Lake) before coming to the park.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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