If you have more than one day to spend in Crater Lake, take some time to get down to the lake! Getting to the lake requires a bit of time, effort, and skill, as it is a steep 1.1 mile hike down to the shore, and then another 1.1 miles back up out of the crater. And let me tell you: the hike up is not fun or easy. So allow plenty of time! But it is so worth it.
We booked the boat tour with a stop on Wizard Island option, though Crater Lake offers options that are just a boat tour, or just a shuttle to Wizard Island. If you can though, seriously book the combo tour like we did. The island is super cool, and there are beautiful views within the lake that you can’t see from any of the shores.
Ready to head out on our tour! We booked the 9:45 am tour, so we had to show up bright and early to pick up our tickets and make the hike down to the boat docks (tickets can be purchased up to two days in advance at kiosks within the park).
Beautiful scenery, and our tour guide was wonderfully entertaining and informative!
We soon docked on Wizard Island. Our guide told us the island has two hiking trails: one to the summit of the island, and one to Fumarole Bay, where you could swim. We were allotted 3 hours on the island, and he said it was possible to do both trails, but only if you hustle. So of course we did! We started with the summit hike, because we knew it would be more challenging and take longer due to the elevation gain.
Side note: if you want your stay on the island to be more leisurely, the summit hike is the one I would recommend of the two. The panoramic views from the top are incredible!
The color contrasts between the volcanic rock, plants, and water was so stunning, it didn’t even look real.
From the summit, you can also see/hike down into the crater that formed during the eruption that created the island. Pretty cool.
The hike to Fumarole Bay presented an entirely different challenge. Our guide warned us it was “a bit rocky”, but what that actually means is it is straight up rocks. We got lost several times, and I twisted my ankle climbing around the rocks. The bay sure was beautiful though!
As far as scientists know, this is the clearest lake in the whole world. The visibility was incredible, and is hard to notice from the top of the crater, thus, why I highly suggest getting down to the lake shore. You could see EVERYTHING.
Our guide also informed us the water is clean enough to drink without filtering, so of course we had to try that too! It was cool, crisp, and delicious. Definitely try it if you get a chance.
So, I really loved both the hikes and am glad we were able to do both, but only attempt this if you are confident in your hiking abilities and don’t mind suffering a little.
And then back on the boat to finish the tour!
Just look at that water!! You could tell how deep it was in various areas just by looking at the color of the water.
After the boat tour, we decided to stay by the lake shore and go for a swim! The areas near the boat dock are the only places with lake access, and the water is FREEZING. Ok, so not literally, but it was only 60 degrees, and that is pretty darn cold for swimming without a wetsuit.
Which meant there was only one way to get us in the water… Geronimo!!!
The victorious cliff jumpers!
We did normal swim time after our cold plunge. Not that any of us lasted that long in the water. It was the sort of cold you never get used to and remains freezing, as you slowly start to lose feeling and movement becomes difficult…
Underwater shots to show water clarity:
We may be smiling in the pictures, but here is a behind the scenes shot of how we really felt about the water. That, my friends, is the face of suffering.
This tour and the time spent by the lake was the unanimous favorite thing we did in the park among my group of friends. It was fun, beautiful, and a uniquely Crater Lake experience! So even if you want to skip the tour or swimming, at least get down to the lake.