Crater Lake National Park: Garfield Peak


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7,700 years ago,  Mount Mazama (an ancient volcano) collapsed forming Crater Lake in its caldera. The pure blue lake is the deepest in the United States and is famous for its bright blue color.  The Lake owes its intense blue color to its depth and clarity. Because the lake is so deep and clear, the longer rays of the light spectrum are absorbed while the shorter waves (the ‘BIV’ component of ‘ROYGBIV’) are reflected back as the color we see.


The awesomeness of this park is on par with that of the Grand Canyon, but not as vast. We only had a day here and managed to get in a hike to Garfield Peak, along with other activities which will be covered in future posts.



The Garfield Peak Trail is a 3.4 mile roundtrip, popular trail with over 1000 feet in elevation. The highest point is over 8000 feet, so you are already starting at a high elevation of around 7000 feet at Rim Village. It is a steep hike to gorgeous views. 


The path to Garfield Peak begins behind the historic lodge. It is steep and strenuous…a steady incline to the top. Our group was a little whiny that day, having gotten up before dawn to beat the crowds into the park. And the uphill hiking at high elevations kicked our butts (except for my husband, who runs Spartan races.) Even so, we made it there and back in two hours by taking it slow and taking breaks. It was so worth it…all along the way we were treated to the most breathtaking views.


We left at 8:00 am and had the trail to ourselves for most of the hike. It was starting to get busy when we descended. I had to watch my footing, especially on the descent…loose rock/sand makes it easy to slip and fall off a cliff or turn an ankle. I would not do this hike with young children.


I’d used the SLR for photos on the ascent and then switched to a lighter point-and-shoot camera for the descent. This camera has a great 60x Optical zoom, so it was lucky that I was holding it as we reached the meadow at the bottom of the trail and saw a hawk up in the trees.


Location: Crater Lake, OR

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 5/22/1902

Date of my visit: 8/25/2016


39 thoughts on “Crater Lake National Park: Garfield Peak

      1. That’s why I love the national parks… something new every time you visit. Could be the weather season or just a different season of your life and you’ll see it in a whole new way.

  1. We have always looked at this place for a visit, but never made it there yet. Your photos have given us a reason to look for the opportunity. The hiking trail also sounds great. After our hike up 1.8 mile Grouse with 3,000 feet of elevation gain, this one should seem a bit easier, except for the elevation.

    1. Thanks! We could have spent another week in Oregon and one day in this park didn’t do it justice. But we were traveling with two teenagers and getting enough space in the lodge or the cabins was impossible, even though I tried booking a year out. Incidentally, one of the girls was wearing a scoliosis brace when we did this hike…it was hard for her, but she made it. So I figure anyone can do it if they take their time and watch their footing

      1. Yes. Travelling with school age children does not give you many options for vacation timing. We have been through that phase and can now visit places during off season. Some are not always at their best, but we enjoy them anyway. Agree with taking time and watching your footing. Also critical on Grouse and Bright Angel. Proper footwear and equipment is a must. My wife needs a knee replacement, but still does not want to stop hiking, so trekking poles are her new best friends. Cheers. Allan

  2. This looks like a beautiful hike. I stopped at Crater Lake on a road trip in 1979, but we didn’t take any hikes, just stood at the rim and looked over it. It was all snow-covered at that time. 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for this post!! My husband and I just scheduled our vacation there for August. I don’t know if we’ll make the hike. I’d love to, but… hmmm. I might have to trick him into it. Lol. Thanks for the beautiful pics!

    1. Have a great time! I was really glad I did this hike…it wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t so difficult that any of us bailed. Even if we didn’t do the whole thing, the views were still awesome as we ascended

  4. Your photos are absolutely stunning! As Oregonians, we were chagrined that neither of us had visited the park since we were in our teens, so we went in September 2016 and stayed in the Lodge. We went in with snow blowing and then a pea-soup fog – we couldn’t even see the Lake – when we woke up. Fortunately, it burned off so we could still hike later that morning. Thanks for the post.

  5. MontaraManDan

    We’ve driven by Crater Lake on several occasions but always in a hurry. You’ve inspired us to slow down and take a closer look. Thanks!

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  7. Absolutely gorgeous photos! I have never been there, but like all the national parks, it’s on my bucket list! Is there a pretty hike for two seniors who have heart conditions? That much change in elevation would be too much of a strain for me now (although I could’ve done it when I was younger)..

    1. Thanks! I would recommend the trolley tour around the rim. I posted about that a few weeks ago I think…plenty of opportunity to get out at key stops and there are no bad views anywhere on the rim. I think there is also a shorter, more level hike out to an overlook point on the opposite side of the village from the lodge, but we didn’t have time to explore that one.

  8. I hope you said hi to my girl while you were there!

    Wish we’d have hit it just a little later and been able to get out a little more… Alack and alas, I guess we’ll have to go back!

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