Camping At Crater Lake 🏞️📍

Written by: Paris Barton



Time to read 3 min

Journey to Crater Lake Begins...

Two years ago I was sitting at the dinner table with my family, celebrating my mom's birthday. We started talking about the things on our bucket list - what we want to prioritize doing as the years go on and we all get older. When it came time for my mom to share what was on the top of her bucket list, she was quick to say going to Crater Lake. Where we live, Crater Lake is only a four-hour drive away. Compared to all the other answers like backpacking through Europe, traveling to Japan, sky diving, or climbing giant mountains - a trip to Crater Lake seemed so mundane. After she said it, we all realized that even though it was an easily accessible adventure, none of us had ever made the trip. Being one of the wonders of the world, it felt silly not to get the adventure of Crater Lake crossed off the bucket list.

Back of a car loaded with camping equipment

Camping At Crater Lake

There are a few options when it comes to camping in Crater Lake. You can acquire a permit to go backcountry camping in the summer or winter in specific, primitive sites throughout the park. There are only 5 campsites each with 2-3 sites available, so getting a permit on a first come first serve basis can be a bit tricky. You can learn more about backcountry camping in Crater Lake on the National Parks Services Website here.

The Crater Lake Lodge is a more accessible option for experiencing Crater Lake. With ramps and elevators, staying here allows people of all abilities to see Crater Lake in its glory without risking injury out in the harsher terrain of the park. Equipped with a restaurant that has a view of the lake, trolley tours, snowmobiling, and horseback riding - the Crater Lake Lodge is a truly luxurious way to explore the sights Crater Lake has to offer.

For those landing in between backcountry camping and the lodge experience, there are two developed campgrounds available to campers. Masama and Lost Creek Campground both offer tent and RV sites, water, electricity, bathrooms, dump stations, and food storage lockers. Tent sites start at around $25 a night not including the $30 week-long vehicle permit needed to enter the park. 

We chose to stay at Mazama Campground and did not regret our decision. The check-in process was easy, and our campsite was nestled in the old-growth forest perfectly tucked away from our neighbors. There was plenty of space to park our car, set up our tent, hang a few hammocks, and not feel crowded. When we return this summer, we will be booking our stay here again!

View of Crater Lake
Crater Lake Mazama Village Campsite Map

Arriving At Crater Lake National Park

The drive to the campground is one to remember. On our right was an immediate cliff edge with enormous trees towering over us. On the left was an endless view of the park as well as scattered hikers venturing through the many trails open to explore. About 25 minutes after entering the park we finally reached our destination: Mazama Village Campground.

After a bit more driving, we found our loop and tent site and set up for the night. Although it was the middle of August, we were met with some unkind rain that caught us off guard. As born and raised Oregonians, we should have known better than to leave the rain gear at home. Crater Lake reminded us that no matter how full the car is, it is never too full for a waterproof jacket. Dampened by the weather, we spent the night playing games in our tent, which was indeed waterproof. A couple hours of Othelo, a deck of cards, soggy sandwiches, and some boxed wine made a rainy evening one to remember.

Man cooking at a campsite
Man balancing on a fallen tree log

Slow Mornings At The Campsite

The next day we were lucky with long stretches of dryness and some sun shining through the clouds. Before setting off on our afternoon adventures which you can read up on in our next blog post, we spent the morning enjoying the peacefulness the Crater Lake forest had to offer. All around us were old-growth trees, not only providing visual beauty but also some exciting new friends. An array of birds, bugs, and animals made their way through our campsite in the trees. Waking up to birds chirping and exploring the ecosystems we were lucky enough to camp in was a treat. Beyond that we enjoyed some quality reading, a few more card games, and of course some good old George Foreman Grill cookin'!

Man sitting and reading
Man sitting at picnic table shuffling a deck of cards
Man cooking at picnic table
Food cooking in a pan on a grill

More To Come...

Be sure to check out our blog post diving into the hikes we did at Crater Lake! If you or someone you know loves the Pacific Northwest and has an adventure they want to share, reach out to us at We are always looking for local stories to share on our blog and social media!