Day Trip to Crater Lake National Park

Written by Robert Roos

Crater Lake National Park is regarded as one of the great natural wonders in the country, and visiting it will be the highlight of your trip. On a clear, sunny day, the view of Crater Lake from the rim of Mt. Mazama is truly breathtaking and awe inspiring.  Combining several stops along the way to and from Crater Lake gives you a full day’s excursion.

The 1.5 hour, very scenic drive from Jacksonville has several great points of interest break up your drive.  Highway 62 takes you along the famous Rogue River, where you can stop and visit the Cole River Fish Hatchery, and see the spawning Steelhead. After crossing beautiful Lost Creek Reservoir, look for the Mill Creek Falls turn-off. A moderate hike down some switchbacks, provide a view of this dramatic waterfall. From there you will go through the historic town of Prospect where you can visit the historic Prospect Hotel.

As you continue the road runs back into Hwy 62. From there you will quickly enter the pine forested region.  Look for a turn to the left indicating the Natural Bridge of the Rogue River. Head to “Day Parking”, and stroll to see where the Rogue River actually disappears underground, only to surface again some distance away. Back on Hwy 62 you quickly enter the “wide spot in the road” – Union Station. Be sure to stop at “Beckies” for lunch. Famous for its homemade pies, this historic diner is an icon to the area. Immediately past Beckies you will again want to stop and check out the breathtaking Rogue River Gorge.

From there you will quickly begin the trip up Mt. Mazama to the rims edge. One of the Parks highlights is walking down the 1100 feet to the Lakes edge and taking the boat tour to Wizard Island. Be sure to make reservations for this popular excursion, and remember – walking is the only way back up the crater. While at the top, take the time to see the often missed “Pinnacles”, a truly fascinating marvel of geology. There are also numerous trails for hiking at the rim.

Check ahead for weather conditions and ranger education programs.

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