Crater Lake’s Backyard Year-Round Adventures
Snow lingers on the Klamath Basin’s valley floor at about the 4,150 foot elevation into February and March. Some resorts remain closed, and lakes and streams are dotted with ice. Soon, the warmer days of April and May draw early canoeists and kayakers to marshes alive with bird songs.
Around Memorial Day, seasonal resorts open, snow leaves the lower trails, fishing takes off, and the camping season begins. Cyclists, hikers, birders, fishermen, and canoeistsenjoy the fresh green landscape and high waters. Visitors enjoy an array of summertime outdoor recreational opportunities and local celebrations. July and August signal summer at mountain elevations of 6,000 feet and above, as the high-elevation lakes and trails become accessible. Since the peak season for our lower-elevation camping and lodging is Memorial Day to Labor Day, book ahead to secure accommodations.
September and October capture lots of us. Warm, sunny days, crisp nights, and colorful aspen draw guests and natives to the outdoors, for weeks of sunshine and mild temperatures. The water level in the lake and its marshes has dropped, but hunters and fishermen still find sporting locations in the rivers, marshes, and mountain lakes.
Snow and serious winter usually begin around Thanksgiving, with a new world transformed by pure white snow, accompanied by green pines and firs, and eye-popping blue skies. The temperate climate, averaging between 25 and 39 degrees F during the days from November to March, allows for comfortable outdoor activity under sunny skies. Over 350 miles of public trails invite snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding, with several designated Nordic-only areas. Expert snowmobilers thrill at the challenge of riding the cirque and lava flows on upper Pelican Butte or overlooking the entire Basin from the top of Liar’s Butte.
Folks who have ridden all over North America agree this is an experience rivaling the best destinations—without the crowds. Great Meadows Sno-Park is popular with snowmobilers and with kiteboarders. The old Tomahawk ski hill and the snow play area at Annie Creek Sno-Park are great spots for sledders and tubers. Parking permits, required at Annie Creek, Great Meadow, and Summit Sno-Parks, are available at Fort Klamath Store and Lake of the Woods Resort. Fish Lake Resort rents and sells equipment for the hardy ice fishermen who frequent the mountain lakes. A half hour south of Crater Lake’s Backyard is the beautiful Collier Ice Arena at Running Y Ranch Resort with hockey and open skating. The Ledge in Klamath Falls rents snowshoes and cross country skies.
Some of the heaviest snowfall in the country occurs in nearby Crater Lake National Park. Contact the park early in the winter to make reservations for the very popular guided weekend snowshoe tours that usually run from November through April. ROE! also offers snowshoe tours. Every January, Chemult Sleddog Races host mushers from several states at Walt Haring Sno Park in nearby Chemult.
Whatever the activity, whatever the season, enjoy it here in relative solitude.
Check our Be Prepared page for some safety tips.