Good walking shoes are necessary. While there is a café, if you would like healthier options, pack a lunch. Visitors can take a cruise around Crater Lake but should make reservations online.
Good to know
July can be very warm and it's also the start of fire season. If you go in November, you may run into snowy conditions and not be able to see the lake. Snow season runs from November to May and roads may be closed at the last minute. It is best to check Crater Lake National Park's Facebook page or website for current weather conditions and road closures.
Any day is a good day, unless seasonal elements close it down.
Recommended time of the year
August is usually the peak of fire season, I suggest planning to go before if you would like to take part in the summer Junior Rangers. Free Ranger-guided snowshoeing runs from Thanksgiving weekend through April, just check road conditions because sometimes it does get cancelled.
If you will be visiting various national parks throughout the year, I highly suggest buying a national parks pass that offers free entry to any parks.
About This Day
Enjoy this fun itinerary in Oregon at Crater Lake for kids. The lake alone is a phenomen. However, throw in the awesome way the rangers explain how Crater Lake came to be, and it's quite humbling for the kids and even us adults. Begin the day at Crater Lake Rim Village Visitor Center to learn a bit about its history. Next, catch your first glimpse of the amazing lake at Sinnott Overlook. Then, take the kids to the Phantom Ship Overlook; is that a pirate ship on Crater Lake? Lastly, drive to see the serene waterfalls at Vidae Falls and for a great photo op to end the day. Make sure to attend at least one ranger talk while there. The kids enjoyed learning about Crater Lake in terms that they understand. The bonus comes with the numerous hikes, views of the many rock formations in the park and waterfalls at Crater Lake. This is a fun day—out enjoying the wonders of nature on your family vacation in Oregon.
The Rim Village Visitor Center at Crater Lake National Park offers a great view of the USA's deepest and cleanest lake. In addition, kids love the special summertime Junior Ranger program. It helps the kids focus their exploration of the park and take in all that there is to see, besides the lake. We, as parents, appreciate the additional options of hiking, waterfalls and specific viewpoints like the Phantom Ship, Wizard Island and such.
DIRECTIONS From I-5 take Highway 62 until you hit the Crater Lake Turnoff, which is a continuation of Highway 62 on the right. Take a left when you hit Munson Valley Road, there will be a sign that says "Crater Lake." Take the road all the way up to the Rim Village Visitor Center.
TIP Keep a good eye on your little nugget because they will want to climb the retaining walls that protect the area. If you decide to take the hike up Garfield Trail, have a good hold of little hands because there are no rails on the trail.
Rim Drive, CRATER LAKE
Before heading out to see the other sights, walk down the staircase behind the Visitor Center for a jaw-dropping, 900-foot (275 m) overlook to the Crater Lake shore. There is a mini-museum, with many storyboards and interactive displays. The kids loved pushing buttons to demonstrate how Crater Lake came to be, along with short videos answering questions about its geology and the original explorer who found it.
DIRECTIONS Go down the staircase behind the Visitor Center.
TIP Because of its steep staircase, it is only open July to October. Be aware that wheelchairs and strollers will not be able to make it down. Use caution when going down the staircase even in October, because rain and snow do make the stairs slippery. Highly recommend holding your little nuggets' hands.