If you want to visit Southern Oregon and Crater Lake is on your list of places to see, I recommend staying in Ashland and taking a day trip up to see the deepest lake in North America. While Crater Lake has a lovely lodge with wonderful views at the base, there really isn’t a huge variety of things to do up there while Ashland has wonderful restaurants, theater, music, bars, shopping, wineries not to mention great hiking, rafting and bike trails and you don’t have to worry about the high altitude. You can enjoy our wonderful freshly ground locally roasted coffee and a delicious gourmet breakfast before heading off for a day trip to see the Crater Lake National Park and be back in Ashland for dinner at one of our wonderful restaurants & a show at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
While it only takes an hour-and-a-half to drive up the Crater Lake, it’s always advisable to check their website to see what the weather is like up there before heading out. Their website has a 24 hour camera where you can see the weather conditions & visibility as well as check the driving conditions (the lake is closed all winter and can still be very snowy in the spring). There is no point in taking the drive if the roads are closed or the visibility over the lake is poor.
Where to Stop
If you’re into some light hiking, make sure to stop off at Natural Bridges where you can take a gorgeous walk along a rushing river. It is easily accessible from HWY 62 and is an easy 2.4 mile loop. Click here for more details.
Where to Eat
There is a restaurant & coffee shop up at the lodge at Crater Lake, but you must stop off at Beckie’s Cafe in the small town of Prospect which is right on your way. They have a great selection of food but their pies are to die for, especially their Marionberry Pie.
How to Get There
There are two ways to get to Crater Lake from Ashland. Both have their charm but it’s important to keep in mind that if you don’t like narrow windy roads then you should probably avoid Dead Indian Memorial Road. Having said that, if you drive this route during early spring you will see the most beautiful wild flowers just above Ashland. In addition you will pass four lakes but as they are all off the main road, you won’t see them unless you take the turn off. My favorite by far is Lake of the Woods as it is a natural lake, unlike the other three and has gorgeous views. You will want to avoid going all the way to Klamath if you take this route as it ads an extra hour to your trip.
My favorite way to get to Crater Lake from Ashland, however, is through Shady Cove. Go North on I-5 turning off at HWY 62 in Medford. It’s a scenic road that is just gorgeous and less twisty. On this route you will pass Cascade Stream Gorge which is worth stopping off to see. Enjoy!