Crater Lake National Park could easily remind visitors of the Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park―only with more snow. Wildflowers run riot when the snow melts off the mountaintops beginning in April. And at 1,943 feet deep, the lake is just as astonishing a shade of blue as any Hawaiian deep-water dive site.
Eat Smart: You‘ll find a gourmet take on Northwest fare at the National Park Service’s Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room (541-594-1184), open May through October. Start with the sustainably-sourced salmon satay or or bruschetta topped with Oregon-grown mushrooms.
Be Fit: Summer water sports are favorite activities in and around Crater Lake, but the park is more known for its cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, which are possible well into April. Crater Lake National Park rangers lead guided snowshoe walks every weekend from late November through April. Reserve a spot in advance (541-594-3100); guides will provide equipment and a thorough tour of the park‘s flora and fauna.
Live Well: Take a ride to Wizard Island, a volcanic cone in the middle of the lake that was believed to be formed by a buildup of hot cinders that rose to the surface around 800 years ago. Along the island‘s one-mile hike, you‘ll spot nearly 100 plant species, including hemlock, Shasta red fir, whitebark pine, and manzanita, along with an abundance of wildflowers. Access to the island via daily boat tours is available mid-July to mid-September at the Cleetwood Cove Trailhead. Visit www.craterlakelodges.com/Activities-1843.html for more information.
Where to stay: Crater Lake is about 150 miles southeast of Eugene, the closest major airport. During winter and spring, Loon Lake Lodge (from $75; 541-599-2244), midway between Eugene and Crater Lake, offers rustic lakeside pine cabins. From May to October, Crater Lake Lodge (from $143; 888-774-2728), a recently renovated 1920s lodge, offers spectacular views of the lake.