Winter Activities

Two people snowshoeing in deep snow along road
Rim Drive is closed to vehicles in winter and re-designated a ski and snowshoe route.

Photo by Mike Connolly

Most days in November through May, opportunities are abundant for winter recreation or simply playing in the snow at Crater Lake National Park. Join a popular ranger-guided snowshoe walk, or ski in solitude along a designated route. Winter activities in the park also require knowledge of winter safety. Whatever activity you choose, please watch this winter safety video of the hidden dangers that snow may present.

Winter Backcountry Camping
Cross Country (Nordic) Skiing
Snowshoeing
Ranger-Guided Snowshoe Walks
Snowboarding
Sledding
Downhill Skiing
Snowmobiling
 

Lake Viewing and Road Closures

The park receives an average of 43 feet (13 meters) of snow per year. It is open year-round, 24 hours a day but the north entrance road and Rim Drive are closed to wheeled vehicles in the winter. The west and south entrances are plowed daily as needed, and are open to automobiles throughout the year.

Winter time offers excellent opportunities for lake viewing and phtography. However, picture-perfect days with lake views are not the average experience in winter. The lake is obscured 50% of the season by clouds and snowstorms. The three-mile road to the the rim, beginning from the visitor center, temporarily closes when the road is not safe to travel. Even on a clear day when the lake is visible, a prior snowstorm or icy conditions could delay opening the gate for uphill traffic to Rim Village and lake views.

Here is a simple checklist to do before driving to the park on a winter day:

  1. Preview the 24-hour weather forecast on your day of travel.
  2. Check the current conditions for road closures and other alerts.
  3. Confirm that the vehicle which you are driving into the park, whether you own it or it is rented, has traction tires or tire traction devices such as chains.
 
Ranger leads visitors in a snowshoe walk through the forest.
Ranger leads visitors in a snowshoe walk through a sub-alpine forest.

NPS photo

Ranger-Guided Snowshoe Walks

Ranger-guided snowshoe walks become increasingly popular each year. The walks generally last two hours, and cover one to two miles of moderate-to-strenuous terrain. Most walks begin at Rim Village and continue through the sub-alpine forests and meadows along the lake rim. The ranger determines the route.

All participants must be at least 8 years of age and no experience is necessary. Space on each tour is limited, and advance reservations are required.

Click here for complete details and reservation information.
 

Sledding

Many opportunities for sledding can be found throughout the park but there are no designated sled hills or snow play areas. Select a location with a gentle slope that is free of trees and other obstacles. The slope should end with a flat landing for safe and easy stopping. One popular spot is the open meadow south of Crater Lake Lodge. For your safety, sledding, tubing, and tobogganing are prohibited in the caldera and on all roadways within the park where vehicle traffic may occur and in all parking lots.

Winter Safety Please watch the video and read about snow dangers such as cornices, and tree wells.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Snowboarding and downhill skiing are allowed in the park but are absolutely prohibited in the caldera. The park does not have any chairlifts. All downhill skiers and snowboarders must hike up to a destination before riding down a slope. Be familiar with the up and down routes, and potential dangers. Know how to self-rescue. Assisted rescues in avalanche areas, and from places hard to reach may take more than 24 hours.

Avalanche terrain exists in the park but there is no formal avalanche forecasting. If you choose to be in avalanche areas carry probes, snow shovels, and avalanche transceivers. Taking an avalanche course is recommended.


Last updated: September 18, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Crater Lake National Park
PO Box 7

Crater Lake , OR 97604

Phone:

(541) 594-3000

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