Campgrounds for Crater Lake

Cascades SM14-736

The default campground for Crater Lake is Mazama Campground, just off the south entrance to the park. The campground features 214 tent and RV sites. In the summer, it tends to be crowded and noisy. Check-in can be a nightmare, especially if you’re arriving a bit late. And this campground is at least a 10 minute drive to the rim. It doesn’t open until mid-June, and closes in early October (it’s currently closed [October 10, 2014]). So what are your camping options if you wish to visit Crater Lake in October, or in late May or early June? Or what if you wish to escape the crowds of summer? Is there any where else besides Mazama Campground?

There is one other campground in Crater Lake: Lost Creek Campground, which doesn’t open until early to mid-July, and usually closes around the same time as Mazama Campground in early October. That is assuming it is open at all. In 2013, the campground remained closed all year. Moreover, the campground only features 14 tent sites, and is very difficult to find an open slot during the season, unless you get there early during the week. In a word, it’s not a very good option. But there are a couple of decent options outside the park.

One option is Farewell Bend Campground along the Rogue River. From this campground, it’s about a 20 minute drive to the entrance of Crater Lake National Park, and a 35 minute drive fto Discovery Point, one of the great vista points on the rim. Really not bad at all, particularly when it’s your own option in late May, early June and in mid-October. Be aware that this campground doesn’t open until mid-May, and closes in mid October. When visiting though in spring or in fall, one advantage that Farewell Bend has over Mazama campground is that it’s significantly lower in elevation: about 2,500 feet lower (3,500 feet opposed to 6,000). This means it’s often considerably warmer at night. I was there one weekend early in summer, when it actually snowed overnight, not only at Crater Lake, but even at Mazama Campground. Temperatures were in the mid-forties, however, at Farewell Bend. Considerably more comfortable to sleep in mid-forties along the Rogue River than in the mid to lower thirties at Crater Lake NP!

The other main option is Broken Arrow Campground on Diamond Lake, north of Crater Lake. It’s even closer to Crater Lake: only little more than four and half miles from the north entrance to Crater Lake, and less than thirty minute drive to Discovery Point. If you want to do a boat tour on Crater Lake, Broken Arrow Campground is actually closer, in driving time and miles, to the Cleetwood Cove parking lot, where you get tickets and depart for the boats, than Mazama campground. Broken Arrow Campground is usually open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.

Here’s a map showing the route from Farewell Bend to Discovery Point:

Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 6.48.43 PM

And a map of the route from Broken Arrow Campground to Discovery Point:

Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 7.12.31 PM