We arrived at Mazama Campground after being on the road for almost 8 hours, the last 4 of which were through the seemingly endless sagebrush country on the road through Christmas Valley. We were tired, ready to get out, and full of the anticipation of Crater Lake.
We entered from the South. Immediately upon passing through the official gate, we took a right and landed at Mazama village. Check-in is at a little kiosk beside the camper store. We had reserved four nights for a tent site and somehow, one of these factors rendered us as “blue”. We were instructed to drive around the campground until we found an unoccupied site with a blue stripe on the post. Once we found our perfect spot in the woods, we were able to set up and no further communication was required. As a system, this has both its pros and cons. It is, in fact, really nice to drive around and scout out some sites before settling in. We passed a couple before finding a spot that would fit our 10X14 tent and had the right trees for 2 hammocks, while also feeling a little spacious. On the other hand, we arrived at 4 pm and sites were already, mostly, claimed. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to find an open site if arriving in the evening in a busy, let alone having the opportunity to choose a favorable one. The system definitely favors campers that can arrive closer to noon rather than after dinner. The colored post distribution for site type will help the first-come, first-serve camper have excellent site choices despite not having a reservation (assuming they arrive earlier in the day than later). We also noticed that during our stay, the campground almost emptied out daily due to the large volume of one-night campers.
When it comes down to it, I prefer the backcountry. But compared to other major National Parks like Yellowstone, I found more of the spaces than not to be far more roomy and semi-private even at full campground capacity. A few have fewer trees and feel a little more cramped.
We camped in late June 2018, and the water faucets were turned on throughout the campground. They were placed every 6-8 sites. There appear to be a couple bathrooms in each loop. The amphitheater is situated between the E and D loops. That can be convenient if you like the evening ranger programs. If on the other hand, you prefer to be away from the foot traffic at night, find another loop. Overall the campground is pretty quiet. I’ve noticed some of the E sites at least (and I think many if the loops), back up to a large and beautiful canyon right along the Annie Creek/Spring trail. What a view!
There are showers in the village. My first time in, I put in my 3 quarters and didn’t take more than the 4 minutes allotted, because the trickle coming out of the shower-head was rather chilly. The second shower was hot and my third was warmish. The food prices at Annie’s cafe are not unreasonable and the food was pretty good. The camp store has limited groceries, so come prepared. I’ve added photos of the groceries sold, additionally there are some snack foods, camping gear, and gift items. Grocery-wise, it is equivalent to a gas station convenience store. They sell gas, ice and wood: remember to buy where you burn! There is also a small laundromat with a charging station for electronics. The laundromat is a busy place and shared by Pacific Crest hikers with terrific stories to tell!
All in the campground is a solid place to camp, and the many mosquitoes will keep you company on the cold Crater mornings. The reason we came here, however, is the lake. Arriving to the rim for the first time was jaw dropping. The scale of Crater Lake can’t be related in photos. We took a morning drive around the rim and were awestruck by the views of snow capped mountains in the far distance on the left, and the deep, sparkling, blue lake to our right.
The park isn’t in full swing even as late as the last week of June. It meant for us, that the park wasn’t very crowded at all. I’m fact, setting out in the morning hours left us feeling like we had the park to ourselves. It also means that some services may not be available such as the boat tours. While they are supposed to be operational, having only just turned them on for the year, they also discovered that they had mechanical problems. We lucked out, and one was fixed in time to take a standard tour. We had dearly hoped to hike on Wizard Island, but alas, it gives us an excuse to come back. The views fr m Garfield Peak were something else.
The weather can be cold; there are still snow patches, and we were told it snowed the week before we came. I believe June begins with a park covered in at least a few inches of snow, and gradually transforms to the July, mountain-summer loveliness.
All in all, we loved our visit and it is on our “must see again” list.
The grounds are beautiful and well kept, and of course… CRATER LAKE. But you're nowhere near the lake and it's a hike/drive to do ANYTHING. I'd recommend the lodge if your heart is set on staying at Crater Lake, or any of the campgrounds at nearby Diamond Lake.
On the plus side, it is very quiet and peaceful.
This is a great place to stay to explore around Crater Lake.
I stopped here when traveling to see Crater Lake and couldnt be happier with the place. It is right before the entrance on the south entrance making it very easy to catch a late sunset or early sunrise if you plan. The campground is easy to find, its right off the road and is very well maintained. The grounds are nice and have all the needed amenities that you would need camping.
Besides being the only National Park in the state of Oregon, Crater Lake is an amazing stop along the PCT. On our month long trek across Oregon, my husband, dog, and I made sure that we spent at least one day here. The best part was that we had friends join us for a great time. There are a variety of camping options available including paid, reserved site camping for tents, trailers, or RVs, private cabins, as well as a separate area for hikers and bikers (bicyclists) who do not have a motor vehicle. It definitely fills up quickly in the summertime so be sure to reserve early as you may not have any luck with day-of walkups. The campground is about 2 miles from the PCT intersection so you can either walk along the road or try your luck at hitchhiking in.
The campground is located right inside the park and has a nice base area. There is a formal restaurant with gift shop in one building then about 100 yards away is a second building with a general store, showers/bathrooms/laundry, and camping check-in. The second building is where hikers pick up their resupply packages so there are always a bunch of them hanging around outside. The general store has pretty much everything you may need and there is a free water refill station right outside so be sure to bring fill up containers as I don't believe they sell individual bottles of water. This is also where you can catch a trolley up to the crater.
The actual camp sites are divided into numbered loops and when you reserve you don't reserve individual spots. You get your spot once you check in (and the person who actually make the reservation is the only person who can check in) so it is a mix of first come, first served and reserved camping. In any case, my friend got a great spot that was near a bath house (flushing toilets but the showers were locked). Since it is a big campground, it would take about 5 minutes to walk from our site to the general store (near the only spot for wi-fi which is paid only).
Our site was tent only and allowed for two cars. You could easily fit 2 (if not one more) tents in the spot. It was well equipped with a table, fire pit, and bear box all in good condition. There were a lot of trees which allowed for hammocks and provided some privacy between the spots. The mosquitoes weren't horrible but they were definitely a nuisance, especially at dawn and dusk, so be sure to bring your deet or other bug repellent if staying in July or early season.
Overall, the camp ground is definitely worth the cost and it gives you great access to one of Oregon's gems.
Getting to the campground was not easy. We drove all of the way down to the lake only to discover the west rim road is closed at night. We had to find our way out and back around. The lake was beautiful in the moonlight though!
The showers and faucets have been capped off so bring extra water or fill up at the store.
Was a great sport to camp and get to see Crater Lake. We camped there for two nights and got to pick our site instead of being assigned one as has been common in many other Nat. Parks. which was a lovely change.
Cycling into the park from the north entrance was killer and I was excited to rest. I was glad to find that the Mazama village was well stocked with beer and food. The campsite itself offers $5 hiker/biker sites (for people traveling without a motorized vehicle) that do not require a reservation…you just walk around in a wooded area and find a place to camp. This area had two shared fire rings which ended up being great as I got to meet a dozen or more PCT hikers (which I found educational and pleasant). Recognizing that this experience may not be for everyone, you can also camp back in the woods a ways for privacy and forego the fire. However, I found the experience very enjoyable and stayed an extra night.
When staying at this site, you do have to walk/ride a little ways to a toilet/shower/water as there is none in the hiker/biker area.
So basically, if you don't mind roughing it and like adventure, this was very enjoyable!
Friday night before one of the Ride-the-Rim events. Too many people, and I was bummed I wasn't able to extend my reservation for the following night.
My site was actually large enough to host another bike tourer who hadn't realized he needed a reservation. There probaby was enough room for even one more tent. The real problem was that we were located next to the party site who kept going as a large group until I told them sometime after midnight that they were too loud. Their yammering had been keeping up a screaming baby a couple sites down, and it was amazing how totally unconscious they were of how much louder they were than the rest of the camp. But hey, that's what it's like when you're at a good party, right? They were apologetic when I told them they were way too loud. My bike tourer got up around 10, maybe and joined them, since he couldn't sleep either.
The toilets were right next to my site. They ran out of paper towels sometime that night, and one of the toilets overflowed, I think.
The showers were far away at the main store/cafe. 75 cents for 4 minutes. I splurged and spent a $1.50. The camp store looked reasonably well stocked, but I got invited up to the Rim to dine at the fancy restaurant by another set of bikers. It was expensive, but the food was good enough to make it reasonable. Normal expensive steakhouse quality. I have been to other expensive National Park restaurants at the same price level with terrible quality.
We breakfasted at the restaurant next to the camp store, and it was reasonably good, but it was ridiculously slow. I think they were short staffed because it was after Labor Day, and they couldn't handle the Ride the Rim crowds. Not sure.
Saturday night I pulled up to Crater Lake… It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and even looking at the pictures I took during my time there I can’t believe it was real! The amazing thing about Crater Lake is that if you sit in front of it for any amount of time the entire thing changes. The colors, the way the clouds reflect on the lake, parts start to look like glass while other parts look frozen. It was unlike anything I have ever seen. The first night we pulled up the water was a deep navy with areas of purple and even darker blue. The next morning we pulled up and the blue was so bright and intense I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. When visiting Crater Lake you have to take the drive around the Rim and see the lake from every angle, it is so worth it, and you have to take the hike down to the lake. Remember that you are at a much higher altitude than you are probably used to, so bring water, and pace yourself if you don’t hike much (especially on the way back up!) Make sure you at least touch the water, put your feet in it, your hands, your face! The water is so clear, so refreshing, and everyone wants to say that they put their hands in a body of water so majestic.
The campsite is about 7 miles from Crater Lake, a short drive, and honestly a great campsite! People complain about the dust, but I got much dustier on my hike down to Crater Lake than I did at the campsite. We paid for one of the small sites and had two 3 man tents and a hammock set up in it. We also had room for our jeep, had a picnic table, and a great little fire pit that even had a rack that we used to make popcorn and and corn on the cob. Once we set up camp we spent the evening eating and drinking warm drinks around the campfire (firewood can be purchased from the same area where you check in, and you must get firewood on site and not bring your own) , gazing at the amazing sky full of stars and the Milky Way, and as bundled up as possible! It was about 32 degrees by midnight and extra layers of down were much appreciated.
The freezing cold weather is where my Rumpl Iron Puffy became much appreciated! (http://www.gorumpl.com/collections/puffy-rumpls/products/iron-puffy) I was able to cuddle up in this blanket by the campfire and all of my friends were jealous! I got this blanket from my Cairn Obsidian box, which I got with my giftcard from the July Dyrt contest! I’ve cuddled in this blanket on every camping trip I’ve taken since, but especially appreciated it in the very cold Crater Lake National Park.
All in all I would highly recommend Crater Lake, and the Mazama Village Campground. Its pretty quiet, has bathrooms on site, and everyone is so in awe from Crater Lake that they can’t possibly be in a bad mood!
This is one of the dustiest campgrounds I've ever stayed in - I blame the volcano. How dare it! (Haha.) Other than the dust (which was primarily on the roads, more than the sites), this place was great. The sites are huge, at least the two that we got. I wish I could've chosen our sites, but you don't usually get to with concessionaire campgrounds - which bothers me, but what can you do? Our sites (I believe E1 and E2) were right by the road (you can see it in the background of a few of our photos) but the campground was generally quiet enough that we weren't bothered by it. There is a decent number of trees between the sites and the roads to provide a good sound barrier.