Is June Too Early to Visit Crater Lake National Park?
Many people ask if it is too early to visit Crater Lake National Park in June. No! June is not too early to visit Crater Lake! But there are things you should know about visiting Crater Lake National Park in June, and what things you can do at Crater Lake at that time of year.
Read More: Read Road Trips For Families’ Ultimate Guide to Visiting Crater Lake National Park
What can you do at Crater Lake National Park in June?
I visited Crater Lake National Park on June 4. It was gorgeous! The lake is rimmed with snow but the skies are blue, the water is the deepest blue imaginable, and the trees are green and lush. It’s beautiful. But the main thing to know if you do decide to go to Crater Lake National Park that early in the summer is that the things you can there are somewhat limited.
Entrances Into Crater Lake National Park in June
There are two entrances into Crater Lake National Park: the North Entrance and the South Entrance ($30 per car entry fee). The North Entrance, West Rim Drive, and East Rim Drive typically close in October or November. There is no set date — closures and openings are determined by snowfall. Crater Lake is one of the snowiest places in the United States! Typically, plowing begins on West Rim Drive in mid-April and all roads are ready to open by mid-July. In 2022, the park received 37 feet of snow. That’s almost four stories high! In 2004, the park received 46 feet of snow.
One June 4, we were able to enter through the South Entrance. We could drive to the Rim Village, which is open year-round. This is where the cafe and gift shop are, bathrooms, and a large parking lot. You can get great views of the lake here. On June 4, the Rim Village was still covered with snow in large piles from the snow plows. This video from the Crater Lake National Park’s Facebook page gives you some idea of the amount of snow they are dealing with!
This time of year (late May, June) visitors can drive to Rim Village and to Discovery Point and walk 1 mile past Discovery Point along the road to the Wizard Island Overlook. The West Rim Drive beyond Wizard Island Overlook is still closed to all traffic (walking, skiing, and snowshoeing) at this time for plowing.
How to Get to Crater Lake National Park
During winter months, the North Entrance and Rim Drive are closed to automobiles. The South and West entrances on Highway 62 are open year-round. During winter, you’ll likely need chains or snow tires.
- From the west (Medford), follow Highway 62 to the park’s West Entrance. Open year-round.
- From the south (Klamath Falls), take Highway 97 to Highway 62 to the park’s South Entrance. Open year-round.
- From the north (Eugene, Portland), just southeast of Eugene, get on Highway 58 and take that to Highway 97. If the North Entrance is open, turn west on Highway 138 to the park’s North Entrance. When the North Entrance is closed for the winter season continue south on Highway 97 toward the town of Chiloquin. Take Highway 62 to the park’s South Entrance. When we drove there on June 4, there was a sign that stated where to go to the South Entrance.
- From the northwest (Roseburg), follow Highway 138 east to the park’s North Entrance. If the North Entrance is closed, continue on Highway 230 to Highway 62, entering the park through the West Entrance.
When Does Crater Lake National Park Open For the Season?
Crater Lake National Park never actually closes. The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. You can arrive any time, with no reservations. But . . . and there’s a big but . . . most of the park is covered by snow throughout the year. Snow can remain unmelted in the park until July! So if you do go to Crater Lake National Park anytime from September through June, you’ll need snow shoes or skis. Visit the Current Conditions page to find out what’s open in the park on a day by day basis.
Can You Hike in Crater Lake National Park In June?
You can visit Crater Lake National Park in May or June and have a great time and get great views of the lake. But what you should know is that most of the road around the lake is not open, so there are really only two places you can go. Once at those places, you can walk around a bit and see the lake, but most of the hiking trails and the boat tour are not open yet.
The website has a list of hiking trails. The trails can be listed as “open” or “closed.” If you aren’t familiar, or you don’t read the website closely enough, you might get the impression that the “open” trails are actually “open” to hike on. That’s not actually the case. When you visit Crater Lake National Park in May or June, the trails may be “open” but you will not actually be able to get to them or hike on them unless you have skis or snowshoes.
Give yourself time to sit at the viewpoints and just watch for a while. If you are in a hurry or only looking at the lake view, you could miss some cool moments. You might see a bald eagle soar across the lake, as we did. There are many chipmunks and birds (don’t feed them!) that come around to look for crumbs from tourists’ sandwiches. We saw a marmot poke its head out from a rock. We followed the marmot for a while and found two other marmots. We could hear them talking to each other! We would have missed all of that if we had just decided to leave and not sit still and be patient for a few minutes more. There were a lot of other tourists nearby, snapping selfies and talking, but no one else saw the marmots, because they just weren’t looking around.
Weather in Crater Lake National Park
On the day we were there, June 4, it was roughly 80 degrees and felt quite warm in the sun. But because there is still so much snow on the ground, in the shade it was cool. For me, not cool enough that I need a sweater or hoodie, but comfortable and not hot. If you are planning to go on any hiking trails when they open to foot traffic, always bring layers. The lake is an alpine lake at high altitude, and there is not a lot of shade in many parts of the park. The elevation at Rim Village is 7,050 feet, so many of the hiking trails start at a similar elevation and go up from there. So bring a sunhat, sunscreen, sunglasses, warm-weather clothes, and clothes to put on to keep warm in case you get chilly or wet. It can rain unexpectedly. Always bring water and food.
Any time of the year is a great time to visit Crater Lake National Park. Summer, meaning July and August, is when conditions are the most clear and all of the activities in the park are open. That is also when you will encounter the most visitors. June and September brings snow, which can limit the trails and roads that are open to automobiles. The entire park is open year-round, but is really only accessible to snowshoes and skis during most of the year that is not high summer.