The historic Rim Drive includes 33-miles (53-km) of lake views, panoramic vistas, forests and meadows. The contours of the road were designed to compliment the natural landscape, and disappear from view as you look across the lake from any point.
Along the way there are 30 overlooks with ample car parking, which provide opportunities to stop for views of the lake and caldera. Rim Drive provides access to five picnic areas, hikes of various difficulty, geologic formations and several waterfalls.
What to Know
Rim Drive by Trolley
Another way to experience Rim Drive and avoid navigating traffic on your own, is to board a trolley at Rim Village. An experienced trolley captain drives the 33 winding miles around the lake. A park ranger narrates stories about park history and the landscape. Each trolley tour lasts two hours with a minimum of five stops along the way at significant overlooks.
To Tow or Not to TowLarge recreational vehicles, buses, and vehicles with a tow, are permitted on Rim Drive, but could have difficulty navigating the drive due to these circumstances, especially during high visitation.
Rim Drive is a narrow and winding historic road.
There are tight curves and no shoulders
Severe drop-offs are present on East and West Rim
Abrupt changes in pavement may be present.
Turnabouts are not available.
Fallen rocks sometimes obstruct the road.
Most historic overlooks only accommodate a few car-sized vehicles.
From Rim Road to Rim DriveIn 1913, men with horses plowed part of Rim Road, the earliest route around the lake. Crews with hand tools graded other segments, and steam shovels removed boulders. By 1919 park visitors were driving around the lake on a rough, dusty and sometimes-dangerous twelve-foot wide road.
During the 1920’s cars got bigger and faster, meanwhile park visitation increased. It became difficult to pass oncoming vehicles without pulling over, or to drive at a steady speed along tight curves and steep grades. Without road barriers, drivers pulled over wherever they could, unintentionally damaging native plants.
In 1931, “designing with nature” was the motivating motto for creating a safer and scenic road circling the lake. Rim Road was widened, paved and renamed Rim Drive. With the addition of speed limits and more-capacity parking areas, Rim Drive continues to protect the landscape and preserve the natural integrity of the surrounding views.
Last updated: May 16, 2021