Crater Lake National Park: Rim Drive

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Millenia ago,  Mount Mazama collapsed forming Crater Lake in its caldera. The pure blue lake became famousfor its bright blue color and is the deepest in the United States.  No rivers or underground water sources feed into the lake. Rain and snow replenish its water.

The Rim Drive is a 33 mile loop around the caldera. You can explore it in your own vehicle during the summer months, but we opted to take the two-hour tour with Crater Lake Trolley. We wanted to see all the highlights without having to drive ourselves. Park loop roads are no fun for the driver.

The privately-owned trolley includes a national-park-trained naturalist on board. Our awesome guide told us all about the history and geology of Crater Lake. The driver made several stops where we got out, took photos and stretched our legs.


We first stopped at the Watchman Overlook where we had great views of Wizard Island. The Island is actually a volcanic cinder cone, with a peak about 750 feet above the lake surface. A boat runs out to the island from a point on the north shore. Visitors can hike a trail to the top of the cinder cone.


Next we stopped at the Llao bay turnout. Llao Rock rises 2000 feet above the water, a prominent high point on the lake. LLao, the Native American god of the underworld, fought with the sky god, Skell, and caused the eruption of Mount Mazama, forming Crater Lake.


Next, we stopped somewhere near Cleetwood Cove. The Cleetwood Cove trail runs down to the dock where the boats depart for Wizard Island and is the only way to access the water in Crater Lake. A steep trail, it takes 1.5-2.5 hours to walk round-trip.


We made an interesting stop at the Pumice Castle Overlook. The Pumice Castle boasts colorful formations in the otherwise monotone caldera wall.

Almost full circle, we stopped at the Phantom Ship Overlook to see the small island said to resemble a ghost ship in foggy weather.


We turned away from the lake to head back to the Rim Village and made one last stop at Vidae Falls. It was too crowded to linger for long and many were anxious to return to the village for the restrooms. The tour runs a solid two hours and there are no restrooms once you leave rim village, so be sure to use the ones by the community center before you leave.

Crater Lake Posts

Location: Crater Lake, Oregon
Designation: National Park
Date designated/established: May 22, 1902
Date of my visit: August 25, 20160