There are over 100 miles of hiking trails in Crater Lake National Park, yet only one leads down to the lake itself. This is because the 1.1-mile-long Cleetwood Trail is the only part of the caldera’s steep avalanche-prone slope that is safe enough for passage. The trail drops 700 feet in elevation and is recommended only for those in good physical condition. There is no other way to get to Cleetwood Cove dock, located at the end of the trail, where the Crater Lake boat tours (541/830-8700) begin.
There are two types of boat tours. Narrated excursions depart on the hour 10 a.m.–3 p.m. early July–mid-September ($27 adults, $17 children 3–11) and cruise counterclockwise around the perimeter of the lake. These tours do not stop at Wizard Island. Twice daily, at 9:55 a.m. and 1 p.m., a cruise departs with a stop at Wizard Island ($37 adults, $22 children). You can elect to hike to the summit of the island and return on the later boat.
Allow one hour from Rim Village to drive 12 miles to Cleetwood trailhead and hike down to the boat’s departure point. Dress warmly because it’s cooler on the lake than on terra firma.
A limited number of boat tour tickets are available by reservation at www.craterlakelodges.com. The rest of the tickets are sold first come, first served at the Cleetwood Trail ticket kiosk.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel