Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Everything the RV Renter Needs to Know

Nearly 8,000 years ago, a volcano in the Cascade Mountain range erupted with igneous fury, collapsing its peak and leaving behind a deep caldera. Over the centuries, rainfall and melting snows collected, forming Crater Lake: the deepest lake in the United States and the crown jewel of Crater Lake National Park. A true bucket list destination for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers, the mountaintop lake with its lonely Wizard Island is one of the most recognizable natural wonders in the country and is absolutely a must-see on your next RV rental trip in Oregon. Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.

Why Visit Crater Lake National Park in Your Rented RV?

Crater Lake National Park is a beautiful, wild, and heavily programmed area where visitors can explore the unique landscape and pick their pleasure. Whether you’re taking in the sights from your own RV, hopping on a tour boat, or jumping right into the lake itself, Crater Lake has no shortage of activities for the entire family to enjoy. Here are just five of the top reasons people come from all over to see Crater Lake for themselves.

Rim Drive

Perhaps the best way to see Crater Lake is on the scenic Rim Drive. This 33-mile loop is a feat of engineering designed to disappear into the landscape and offer incredible views without detracting from the natural wonder on display. Trips often take two hours or more to complete, as the maximum speed limit is only 35 miles per hour; there’s plenty to stop and see along the way.

In fact, there are 30 overlooks around the loop, each with plenty of parking where you can stop to see the lake and the surrounding mountain country from different perspectives. The best part is that RVs are allowed on the road, though you might want to rent a smaller vehicle if your goal is to make the loop in your camper. For more information about the Rim Drive and everything there is to see, visit the Rim Drive webpage on the NPS website.


If you’d rather let someone else do the driving for you, Crater Lake Hospitality and Crater Lake Trolley work with the National Park Service to operate unforgettable tours of Crater Lake by boat and by trolley. There are eight boat tours every day that take visitors around the caldera, two of which make a three-hour stopover on Wizard Island in the middle of the lake. Trolley tours make the entire Rim Drive loop while the ranger on board narrates your journey. Learn more and reserve your tours here.

There’s also a self-guided walking tour of Rim Village that’s very popular. Go at your own pace through the pedestrian-only area and see the many nature-inspired buildings dating back to the early days in the park service in the 1920s and 30s. Of special note is the Sinnot Memorial Outlook, which houses exhibits and ranger programs designed to educate visitors about the geology of the park. More information on the walking tour can be found on the National Park Service website.

Winter Activities

Winter up in the mountains lasts half a year, from November through May. That makes Crater Lake National Park a winter sportsman’s dream destination, with all manner of snowy activities available on and near the volcano. One of the most popular of these is the ranger-guided snowshoe walk, a two-hour hike over snow through the forests and meadows surrounding the rim of the caldera. Reserve your snowshoe walk here.

If you prefer to move at a slightly higher speed, most all of the park is ideal for sledding, downhill skiing, and snowboarding. There aren’t any chairlifts or rope systems in the park, which means skiers need to be prepared to hike. But whatever your conveyance of choice, you can’t beat the views and gentle slopes of Crater Lake. Learn more about these and other great winter activities on the NPS website’s Winter Activities page.

Cleetwood Cove

There’s only one place in the whole park where visitors can access the shoreline of Crater Lake, and that’s Cleetwood Cove. It’s quite the trek to reach it, but the opportunity to swim in the cool, blue mountain waters of a volcano is well worth whatever it takes to get there. The hike along Cleetwood Clove Trail is just more than one mile and takes hikers down a 700-foot drop in elevation from the rim to the water’s surface—so be prepared to hike back up!

Once you reach the water, you can wade or swim in normal clothes or a bathing suit. The water rarely gets above 60 degrees even in the summer, so it’s a good idea to pack a warm change of clothes for the long journey back to your vehicle. Learn more about access to Cleetwood Cove, and park rules about wading and swimming, here.


Crater Lake is a unique body of water. Relatively young in the grand scheme of things, its sudden creation and disconnection from any other sources or tributaries of water, plus its high elevation, mean it’s unlikely it has ever been home to native fish species of any kind. That said, it was stocked with seven species in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and today, anglers come for a chance to catch the kokanee salmon and rainbow trout that thrive in the lake and its nearby streams.

Because the fish here were placed by man, you don’t actually need a fishing license to cast a line, and there are absolutely no size or possession limits for fishing on the lake. Keep in mind that there are no private boats allowed on Crater Lake, so your best options for good fishing will be from Cleetwood Cove and, if you take a tour boat, Wizard Island and its boat docks. Check out the Fishing page on the Crater Lake website for more information and to prepare before you visit.

Campgrounds and RV Parks for Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is at the heart of some of the most beautiful land to be found anywhere in the United States. As such, it’s full of campgrounds, resorts, and RV parks you can choose from to create the Crater Lake getaway of your dreams. Whether you’re looking to stay right in the park, to get away to a private nook in the woods, or to settle in for some incredible trout and salmon fishing during your stay, here are five of the top campgrounds and RV parks to consider near Crater Lake National Park.

Mazama Campground

Of the two campgrounds within Crater Lake National Park, Mazama Campground is the only one that allows RVs. As far as national park campgrounds go, though, this place is an RVer’s paradise with 214 campsites. There are a number of sites with electric hookups, and there’s also a convenient camp store where you can pick up essentials like camping supplies and gas for the camper. Reserve in advance, though—the camp fills up most days during the summer.

Crater Lake Resort

About 20 miles south of Crater Lake’s park headquarters in Fort Klamath is Crater Lake Resort, a small but comfortable campground perfect for the RV crowd. There are only 12 RV sites, but each one comes with hookups. If you want to stay close to the park but not inside it, plan far in advance to make sure you get one of the few spots available here.

Farewell Bend Campground

For a larger RV park option, check out Farewell Bend Campground in Union Creek. This campground is only open for the summer and offers 61 sites for either a tent or for RVs 40 feet and shorter. This park is managed by the National Park Service and can therefore be reserved online at

Crater Lake RV Park   

Not to be confused with Crater Lake Resort, Crater Lake RV Park is a little farther away in Prospect, Oregon and has a much higher number of sites available. Open year round, Crater Lake RV Park has 57 RV sites with full hookups that can accommodate most any RV, so if you’ve got one on the larger side this might be your spot.

Sportsman’s River Retreat

Anglers will want to make the drive to Sportsman’s River Retreat in Chiloquin, Oregon. As the name implies, this is a gorgeous RV park and cabin resort right on the river under the shadows of the Cascades Mountains. Their large RV sites with full hookups can accommodate even the biggest of rigs. The real draw, however, is the guide services they offer for fly and tackle fishermen.

Places to Eat Near Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

The alpine villages surrounding Crater Lake National Park offer the best of Oregon’s hospitality and locally sourced cuisine for visitors to enjoy. Inside the park and in every direction outside, there’s always something delicious to eat at Crater Lake.

Dining at Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is a unique National Park for many reasons, one of which is the fact that they operate three restaurants within the park itself. Rim Village Café is open year-round (except holidays) and offers the kinds of light meal options you may want before setting out on a big adventure in the park. Annie Creek Restaurant is a great family-friendly spot with everything from breakfast sandwiches to pizza. Finally, for a sit-down experience that’s still casual, check out Crater Lake Lodge in view of the lake itself. Learn more about the park’s dining options on the National Park Service website.

Dining outside of Crater Lake National Park

There are plenty of excellent restaurants outside the park itself, as well. Many visitors to Crater Lake swear by the area’s breakfast restaurants to fill up before a big day, including Beckie’s Café and The Potbelly Café. South Shore Pizza offers wings and pizza, plus ice cream and frozen yogurt for dessert. Union Creek Chuck Wagon BBQ is a favorite for their smoked wings and comforting barbecue options.

For more dining ideas and information, visit the Discover Klamath website.