If having a unique experience on your wedding day is one of your reasons to elope, this may be the perfect spot for you! Crater Lake National Park is one of the most charming, breathtaking, and magical places to visit. And surprisingly, the only national park we have here in Oregon!
I believe Crater Lake is one of the most underrated national parks in the country! Its color earned it the nickname “Majesty Lake”. Imagine the bluest blue and I swear this lake is bluer. When all of the colors in the sky come out to play and reflect off of the crystal clear water, it is just… MWAH! 🤩 #chefskiss
A Little History About Crater Lake National Park
Formed by the collapse of an ancient volcano called Mt. Mazama 7,700 years ago, its rich color comes from the fact that all of the water comes exclusively from rain or snow since there are no inlets from other water sources. There are no sediment or mineral deposits carried into the lake. This makes it one of the purest, cleanest, most pristine lakes in the world.
As tempting as it is to jump in for a swim, the only safe & legal spots to do so are at the bottom of the Cleetwood Cove Trail and around Wizard Island. Be warned! As America’s deepest lake, measuring 1,943 ft deep, water temperatures don’t get very high. Cleetwood Cove is also where you’ll also find the boat to Wizard Island if you choose to make it a part of your wedding experience –which I highly recommend!
Getting a Wedding Permit for Your Crater Lake Elopement
Applying for a wedding permit in advance is going to be critical for your Crater Lake Elopement. The park suggests applying 8 weeks ahead of time but their permitting office is often understaffed and slow to reply so I recommend at least 9-12 weeks or as soon as you decide on a wedding location. Here’s a map of all 46 locations for which you can get a wedding permit. The cost per application fee is $50 (non-refundable) and when accepted another $50 to file.
- amplified music is prohibited — however, acoustic music is fine
- generators are also not allowed
- consider your guests’ transportation — entrance fee per vehicle is $20 for the day
- the permit map will show you where / if there is a restroom at each location
- LNT — no throwing rice, flowers, balloons, butterflies, confetti, etc.
- pack out ALL trash
- bring lots of water — make sure you and your guests stay adequately hydrated
Best Time of Year to Have Your Crater Lake Elopement:
stats by weathersparks.com
Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. However, most areas close in the winter due to heavy snowfall. They open back up roughly mid-June until about the last week of October.
There are 3 entrances to get into the park: North, South, and West. The North entrance, Rim Drive, and many facilities are closed in the winter. However, when the weather permits, the south and west entrances are open year-round and you can access the park for snow activities through Mazama Village.
Every season has its beauty and fun to explore so “the best time” really depends on what you two like to do!
I find early fall to be the best time to elope in Crater Lake National Park. You get all of the summer perks without the crowds, the weather is just right, and hello …who doesn’t love fall?!
Spring / Summer / Fall
Activities can include fishing (kokanee salmon & rainbow trout), hiking, biking, camping, hotel lodging with a panoramic view of the lake, a trolley tour around the rim, swimming, hiking to waterfalls, picnicking, enjoying scenic overlooks like the Pinnacles & Pumice Castle, a boat tour around the perimeter of the lake, exploring Wizard Island, and star-gazing. 😍
Wizard Island has a 2.3-mile hike with 750 ft elevation gain to “The Witches Cauldron” – a tiny crater of its own at the top of the island. A moderate hike for those with little experience and certainly a unique location to get married!
Know what else is pretty awesome? Practically zero light pollution. If you and your love are avid stargazers, this is the place to do it!
Activities can include: snowshoeing, skiing the entire rim drive (they block off any traffic in the winter), downhill skiing (although there are no chairlifts so you’ll need to hike) snowboarding, backcountry camping, snowmobiling, sledding or simply just playing in the fluffy snow!
Getting to Crater Lake National Park
The nearest airport with commercial flights is in Medford, Oregon, about an hour and a half from the park called the Rogue Valley Medford Airport. This airport is served by Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, and United Airlines. The second nearest will be in Eugene, Oregon which is about a 3.5-hour drive. If opting for a long, scenic road trip through Oregon, Portland Airport is about a 5 hour’s drive away.
The Amtrak Train provides daily service to Klamath Falls, Oregon, about an hour from the park. From July to early September, a shuttle runs from the Klamath Amtrak station to Rim Village.
Currently, there is no public transportation in the vicinity of the park.
RVs, Trailers, Buses
There are no restrictions on the size of RVs, trailers, or buses allowed in the park. However, roads in the park are narrow, so drive carefully and watch for wildlife, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Here’s a great site if you’re interested in renting an RV for your Crater Lake Elopement!
The park’s gas station is closed during winter. A charging station for electric vehicles can be found 100 yards south of the fee booth, but may not be accessible during periods of heavy snow accumulation. The closest place to find fuel west of the park is the Prospect Service Station, 29 miles from the park’s fee booth on Mill Creek Drive. Gas and diesel are available 8 am–8 pm daily. South of the park, the closest place to find gas is the Crater Lake Junction Travel Center, 30 miles from the fee booth on Highway 97. Gas and diesel are available 24 hours.
Lodging at Crater Lake National Park
Sleeping overnight in the park is only for hotel guests, campground campers, and backpackers who obtain a backcountry permit. The park’s lodges and campgrounds are closed for the winter and open back up when the north entrance & Rim Drive open back up. Crater Lake Lodge reservations can be made by calling: 866-292-6720 or booking online.
Other Nearby Lodging for Your Crater Lake Elopement:
The Barndominium Cabin – This cute country bungalow is pet friendly, has 3 bedrooms if you choose to bring guests, a ping-pong table, & is close to the city of Klamath Falls if you need any last-minute supplies.
The Old Farmhouse Cabin – is only 5 minutes from the Crater Lake entrance and is pet friendly with a big yard for dogs to run around. Great mountain views for sunset & sunrise! Includes a pool table, BBQ grill & outdoor dining area.
The Chalet – Adorable a-framed cabin nestled in the woods only 20 mins from Crater Lake – includes kayaks and its private park nearby – also pet friendly!
Modern Marsh Wren Cabin – this cabin is just 25 mins away from the Crater Lake entrance. Kayak Agency Lake, watch the sunset, or soak in the oversized tub in the master suite.
Camping at Crater Lake National Park
Click here for Mazama Campground Reservations – Camping options include tent, RV-no hookups, RV with electricity, and RV with full hookups.
Here’s a map of all the campground sites if you’d like to check it out.
Dogs on leash are permitted within the park but only in developed areas and within Mazama Village and Lost Creek Campground. Dogs are not permitted on any trails or undeveloped areas.
Restrooms & Drinking Water
When the Rim Drive is open, restrooms at Rim Village are open 24 hours a day. Water from the restroom sinks is safe to drink. Bottled water is also available for purchase at the Rim Café & Gift Shop.
Cell reception in the park is spotty. Free public WiFi is available at the Rim Café & Gift Shop.
Preparation is the key to a good time. If you choose to work with me for your Crater Lake elopement, I’ll share a custom packing list of exactly what to bring. The basics are:
- Layers! No matter what time of year it is, you’ll be teetering between 6,000 – 9,000 ft elevations so it’s always best to bring more than you think you’ll need.
Pro-tip: wrapping up in a giant blanket together is not only cozy but makes super cute pictures. ^_^
- Bring lots of water! Drink lots of water before and during your visit. High elevations can put a damper on your experience. Proper hydration helps. If you can arrive a few days ahead of time, that helps too. Regardless, always drink plenty of water!
- Pre-download all of your maps as service in the park can be spotty. The All Trails App works great for this.
- Never feed the wildlife. What may seem harmless can be detrimental to both humans and animals. Feeding disrupts their hunter/gatherer behavior which eventually leads to malnourishment. It’s best practice to simply enjoy their presence and leave them be.
- Please honor speed limits as the wildlife like to forage along the shoulders and linger around crossing roads.
- Keep in mind this is one of the snowiest places in America with a yearly average of 42 FEET! It’s important to be cautious when exploring in the wintertime. If you’re an experienced snow sports superstar, I’m sure you know these things already. If in doubt, please watch this safety video before hitting the park for winter activities.
Crater Lake is the only place in the world you can find the Mazama newt. This subspecies of rough-skinned newt is native to the lake. Threatened by invasive species, scientists are trying to combat non-native crayfish and preserve the existence of these unique newts. Usually found hiding under rocks or logs, lucky visitors may spot one of these rare creatures around the edge of the lake. Don’t touch them though! Oils from human hands can become a barrier on the surface of the Newt’s skin, making it defenseless against other invasive and non-endemic predators like the crayfish, Kokanee salmon and Rainbow Trout.
Let’s Work Together For Your Crater Lake Elopement!
I hope this elopement guide has covered everything you need to know about how to elope at Crater Lake National Park! If not, please leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to add it to the post!
For a fun, stress-free elopement experience, I can help you plan the perfect elopement day at Crater Lake National Park! Just head over to my contact page and tell me all about your elopement dreams! We’ll set up a time to video or phone chat and discuss details and how to make them happen. ^_^
I can’t wait to hear from you!
About the Author
Hi! I’m Mia – an Oregon elopement photographer for fun & adventurous couples! I live in a tiny house in the woods with my boyfriend and we are always on the hunt for our next big adventure. We nerd out about things like rock formations, plants, and wildlife. We raise chickens, listen to LOTS of true crime, and like to grill scrumptious meals over a campfire together. He likes to fish and I like to paddleboard (away from where he’s fishing). Crater Lake is our actual neighbor and I am obsessed with finding awesome places for couples to elope at!