Summer is the high season at Crater Lake National Park. For one thing, the road around the lake doesn’t usually open until mid-June, thanks to an average snowfall of 44 feet each winter. And summer temperatures from July through September are a comfortable 70 degrees in the day, dropping to an average of 40 degrees at night. August is the warmest month, with temperatures occasionally spiking into the 80s and 90s. From July 25 to September 18, the Volcano Boat takes visitors on a tour of the lake, with the option of being dropped off on Wizard Island. To reach the boat dock, the mile-long Cleetwood Trail descends from the rim to the lake.
While July and August see the park packed with visitors, June, September, and early October are prime months to explore Crater Lake with fewer crowds. There are no set opening and closing dates for the Rim Drive—it all depends on when the snow starts to fall in autumn and when the snowpack melts in the spring. Car traffic around the lake is busy in peak season, but during the shoulder season months, bicyclists from around the world come to the lake to ride around the crater. Though the distance is only about 33 miles, the nearly 4,000 feet of elevation gain makes this a challenging adventure.
From January through March, Crater Lake is one of the snowiest places in the United States. Temperatures hover in the mid-30s during the day and plummet to low double digits at night. Plus, snowstorms can last for days. Only the Steel Visitor Center is open year-round (accessible by the park’s south entrance), but the unplowed roads make for spectacular cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The 33 miles have been done in a day, but most people divide the outing into three sections, with two nights of camping enroute.