Our second day at Crater Lake was probably my favorite day of our trip. While researching things to do in the park, I’d discovered that it was possible to actually go out to Wizard Island, the volcano in the middle of the lake, and spend some time hiking and swimming! I love finding new hikes and unique activities in places we visit, so I immediately knew this was something we had to do!
There are several options for boat tours on the lake. Check out all the options on the Crater Lake Lodges page here – you can do anything from a 2 hour boat tour around the lake to a full 6 hours on Wizard Island! You have to call to make the reservations, and by the time I got around to finalizing the details of our trip, the only option for visiting the island was the half day (3 hour) trip.
We were camping at Mazama Campground on the southern end of the lake, and the boat dock at Cleetwood Cove is on the north end, so we spent the morning driving along the eastern side of the Rim Drive to catch the overlooks that we hadn’t seen on our first day.
We’d been told that the best time to view Crater Lake was first thing in the morning when the lake is still and the water is so blue. We woke up early and were not disappointed!
Our first stop was at the Phantom Ship Overlook. We’d heard people talking about this the day before but hadn’t been able to see it from any of the lookouts we’d stopped at. It really does look like a ship sticking out of the lake! And I loved this shot that I got with the perfect reflection on the lake.
Next we drove out to Pinnacles Overlook. It’s about six miles away from the lake and was worth the detour! These pinnacles are volcanic spires that formed when ash cooled after the eruption of Mount Mazama.
We continued on our way around the Rim Drive stopping for photo ops along the way!
Here’s Pumice Castle!
We were glad to have a clear day, since the forest fires often filled the air with smoke and fog. We could even see Mt. Thielson in the background to the north.
It’s so windy up at Cloudcap Overlook that these trees are permanently blown over like this!
We finally made our way around to Cleetwood Cove and headed down the trail to the lake. If you book a boat tour of any kind at Crater Lake, you will get a million warnings from them about the trail from the rim to the shore. It’s 1.1 miles and drops 700 feet down to the lake. They’re extremely cautious about making sure everyone who hikes down understands that it’s a steep hike back up!
Here’s our first view from the lake back up!
We headed off to Wizard Island!
Once we landed at Wizard Island, we had another steep 1.1 mile hike of switchbacks up the side of the volcano.
I could not get over how blue the water was!
We finally made it to the top! Here’s us looking down into the crater on top of Wizard Island.
There’s a short 1/4 mile trail around the rim of the crater. We walked around and found a great spot for lunch!
After having lunch on top of Wizard Island, we decided to head down into the crater.
J heading in!
We’re inside a volcano inside a volcano!
The view on our way down.
We had a short time left on the island before our boat returned, so we headed over to Fumarole Bay and hopped in for a quick swim! I started a tradition of jumping in alpine lakes that we visited on our hikes last summer, so I had to continue that tradition here! I’m not sure J is too excited that this has become a “thing” now 🙂 So far I’ve jumped in Goat Lake, Diablo Lake, and now Crater Lake!
J jumped in too! (He was not quite as excited)
I was having so much fun I decided to jump in again! 🙂
After our quick dip in the lake, we headed back to the dock to wait for our boat back.
Saying goodbye to Wizard Island!
Here’s a look at Cleetwood Cove. If you look closely, you can see the bottom of the trail switchbacking up to the rim.
We finished the day with another drive around the west side of the lake. We stopped again at our favorite spot, Watchman Overlook. This time we decided to do the hike up to the lookout tower. It’s 1.6 miles round-trip, and a popular spot to watch the sunset.
I loved looking down on Wizard Island, knowing we’d just been at the top!
One of my favorite pics of us from the trip 🙂
We headed back to our campsite and discovered that because Crater Lake is a National Park, they don’t have to follow the state regulations on fire bans. Meaning we were finally allowed to grill some brats and s’mores for dinner!
We had such a fun day exploring Wizard Island, and I definitely recommend reserving a spot on one of the boats out there when you visit Crater Lake! It’s definitely an experience I will never forget.
Planning your own trip to Oregon? Check out these posts for more information and suggestions on where to visit!
Columbia River Gorge
Mount Hood and Trillium Lake
Bend and Crater Lake