Located in the heart of Southern Oregon is Crater Lake National Park. A lake that is so brilliantly blue and shockingly big, it will take your breath away.
While exploring the park itself is an obvious must-do, there are also plenty of incredible activities to enjoy in the surrounding area.
In this post, we’ll list the best things to do near Crater Lake. From waterfalls to hot springs to kayaking to wine country, there’s more than enough to keep you busy for a few days!
Explore Toketee Falls
You can hike to one of Oregon’s most popular waterfalls just under an hour’s drive from the entrance to Crater Lake. Toketee Falls cascades over 113 feet over basalt columns and makes for a spectacular stop.
The trail to the waterfall is just 0.8 miles round trip with 170 feet of elevation gain. Most of the trail is up and down built-in staircases, making the hike a bit easier.
If you’re feeling brave and have hiking shoes with good grip, you can venture down to the pool of water beneath the falls. There is an unmaintained trail that leads you down there, with the use of a rope strung along the trees. Use extra care as the route is extremely steep and slippery!
Hike to Watson Falls
Just a few miles down the road from Toketee Falls is Watson Falls. The trail to Watson Falls is a 1 mile loop hike with 360 feet of elevation gain.
Watson Falls is the third tallest waterfall in Oregon at 272 feet high. This waterfall also cascades over basalt columns like the nearby Toketee Falls. There is a wooden bridge along the route that will put you right over the lower rapids with a great view of the waterfall.
The trail leading up to the falls is in the lush dense forest, and the surrounding rocks at the waterfall are green and moss covered, making it a picture perfect PNW spot!
Soak in the Umpqua Hot Springs
Umpqua Hot Springs is along the same forest road as both Toketee Falls and Watson Falls, so combining these stops makes for a perfect day trip from Crater Lake.
Umpqua Hot Springs are a set of 7 natural hot pools in a beautiful forest along the Umpqua River. Soaking in the hot springs while hearing the river rushing below is a serene, unique experience that you should add to your itinerary!
The hike to the hot springs is less than 1 mile round trip, but steep with 305 feet of elevation gain. It’s recommended to hike in shoes with good grip and change into your bathing suit beforehand as there is no place for privacy at the springs. And don’t forget a towel to dry off after your soak!
Note these springs are clothing optional. Be sure to leave no trace and don’t wear any lotions or perfumes while soaking in the hot springs since they are a fragile ecosystem.
Take a scenic drive
Oregon is chock full of scenic byways. Whether you’re cruising down the coast, driving around Mount Hood, or want to explore their lesser visited desert- Oregon has plenty of scenic drives for you to explore.
The Rogue – Umpqua Scenic Byway is 172 miles long and takes you through Crater Lake, Diamond Lake, and the Umpqua National Forest. Some of the highlights include Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs listed above. This is the perfect scenic byway if you have a long weekend to explore!
If you’re interested in a long road trip through Southern Oregon and Northern California, consider the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. This 500 mile journey starts in Crater Lake and takes you through Lava Beds National Monument, Mount Shasta, and all the way down to Mount Lassen National Park.
And if you have even more time to explore from Crater Lake, the Oregon Coast Scenic Byway is tough to beat. The drive to the coast will take you almost 4 hours, but even if you only have time to explore the Southern Oregon Coast it will be well worth it.
The town of Bandon on the coast is closest to Crater Lake and has Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint. There are coastal sea stacks and rocks galore, and the sunsets are magical.
During the months of March- November, thrill seekers can go ziplining through Crater Lake ZipLine, located an 1 hour & 15 minute drive South from the National Park.
Ages 10 and over can embark on an epic canopy tour with 9 ziplines, walk on 2 suspension bridges, and do some rappelling. You’ll get amazing views of Mount McLoughlin, Upper Klamath Lake, and the surrounding Cascade Mountains making this even more special.
If you’re looking for more to do, they also offer a kayaking tour on Wood River that you can combine with the ziplining tour for a full day adventure.
They also have axe-throwing onsite which makes for a fun night or afternoon out. There is food available from Sassy’s Kitchen, with local brews on tap.
Hike to Lemolo Falls
Lemolo Falls is an easy-moderate trail in the Umpqua National Forest, 1 hour North of Crater Lake. The hike is 3.4 miles round trip with 380 feet of elevation gain.
The trail will take you along the Umpqua River and features colorful wildflowers in the spring and early summer.
You’ll find a few waterfalls and waterfall views along the hike, and some spots in the river that serve as swimming holes where you can cool off in the summertime!
Go on a clear kayaking tour of Spring Creek
Go on a unique paddling tour with Sky Lakes Wildnerness Adventures to Spring Creek. They offer a clear bottom kayaking tour so you can view right down to the bottom of the crystal clear waters. The water here is so clear since, as the name suggests, it is spring fed!
Glide through the waters and feel like you’re just floating right across, as you watch for eagles and other birds that may be overhead.
They offer the 4 mile paddling tour 7 days a week, with 9:30 am and 1:30 pm departures available.
Explore Upper Klamath Lake & Klamath Falls
About one hour South of Crater Lake is Upper Klamath Lake, the largest freshwater lake West of the Rockies. Get out on the lake by renting a kayak, or going fishing.
During the spring months, hiking the Hogback Mountain trail is a must. It is difficult and steep at times. But the trail pops with bright colors of lupines, daisies, and more wildflowers that make the climb well worth it.
The town of Klamath Falls sits at the Southern tip of the lake. Stay at the popular Running Y Resort, with an 18-hole golf course onsite, an indoor swimming pool, a fire pit, and more.
Head to Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake is the closest destination to Crater Lake, as it is only a 15-minute drive from the park’s North entrance.
The Diamond Lake Resort is located here, which has loads of fun summer activities and multiple lodging options. There is a motel onsite, as well as many cozy cabins for rent. Their lodge restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and there is a pizza parlor with lake views.
During the summer months, you can go horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and kayaking. You can also rent a boat for a relaxing day out on the water.
Diamond Lake is also a great spot in the winter since the resort sees a lot of snow! There are snowshoe and cross-country skiing trails as well as snow tubing and snowmobiling offered.
Hike to Mill & Barr Creek Falls
The trailhead to Mill & Barr Creek Falls is just 25 minutes Southwest of Crater Lake. A great two-for-one waterfall hike, this trail is a hidden gem in the area.
The hike for both is 1.5 miles round trip with 215 feet of elevation gain, is considered easy, and can be accessed year round. The trail is family and dog friendly, just pay extra attention to your pups and small children since there are some exposed areas with steep cliffs and drop offs.
Mill Creek Falls stands at 173 feet tall, and Barr Creek Falls plunges 240 feet, making this trail one of the best things to do near Crater Lake.
For those that are able and looking for an extra adventure, you can scramble down to the base of Mill Creek Falls for a different perspective.
Visit Rogue Valley’s Wine Country
Rogue Valley is situated between Crater Lake and Oregon’s Southern Coast. The majority of the wine region is about a 2 hour drive Southwest of Crater Lake. There are over 150 wineries in this scenic region, so you will not run out of options!
Rogue Valley produces many different variations of wine, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc.
There are tons of year round events in the wine country, from live outdoor music, sip and paint parties, and harvest festivals in the fall.
The Upper Rogue Valley wineries are the closest to Crater Lake, and include Kriselle Cellars, Cliff Creek Cellars, and Del Rio Vineyard Estate. Each of the wineries have spectacular views, are highly rated, and surprisingly affordable. A tasting at Del Rio Vineyards is just 10$ a person.
The Hummingbird Estate is a fantastic bed and breakfast to stay at while visiting Rogue Valley. You’ll have mountain and garden views, plus access to their winery onsite!
The Wrap Up: 11 of the Best Things to Do Near Crater Lake
And there you have it, 11 of the best things to do near Crater Lake!
Crater Lake is located in a rather remote area of central Southern Oregon, but don’t fret since now you’ve got a list of even more things to do around the National Park.
Oregon is so diverse, holding the deepest lake in the U.S. and hot springs, waterfalls, wineries, and more all located nearby. So, which places are you adding to your itinerary?
Written by Kate of Kate Roams the World.