Ponderosa Picnic Area

An accessible comfort station and information kiosk surrounded by Ponderosa Pines
Ponderosa pines welcome visitors to the entrance of Ponderosa Picnic Area

NPS Photo/Mimi Gorman

Quick Facts
After passage by the Senate on May 9 the bill was signed into law (47 Stat. 155) by President Herbert C. Hoover on May 14, 1932. Thus, 973 acres were added to the park, the addition becoming popularly referred to as the park's "southern panhandle."

Information Kiosk/Bulletin Board, Picnic Table, Recycling, Restroom - Accessible, Toilet - Vault/Composting, Trash/Litter Receptacles

Ponderosa Picnic Area is at the southern tip of the park, a region referred to as the panhandle. At 4400 feet in elevation, you get the advantage of warmer temperatures, less snowpack, the highest diversity of plant species, the densest collection of Ponderosa pines and the best views of fall’s colorful deciduous trees found anywhere in the park.

Most people stop at Ponderosa Picnic Area for the restroom and orientation to the park, where a map and general information are secured in a bulletin board. It is one of the first places where wildflowers bloom after the snow melts. A colorful wildflower display begins in early summer, with Skyrocket, Paintbrush, lupine, wild strawberry and sweet-smelling snow bush.

Sugar pines, Douglas-firs, white firs, cottonwoods and of course, Ponderosa pines can all be seen from and within a mile of the picnic area.  If you have never sniffed the bark of a Ponderosa Pine, rest your nose on a tree with yellow-reddish, puzzle-like bark and breathe in—vanilla, butterscotch, or? 

Crater Lake National Park

Last updated: January 18, 2024