We still made the most of our few hours there. We stopped first at the Steel Visitor Center at the southern park entrance to learn a bit about the crater. Then we took the road up to the Rim Village, which has another visitor center, a cafe and the Crater Lake Lodge.
The southern road into the park and up to the rim of the crater have you climb nearly 3000 feet in a very short distance. The rim of the crater hovers between 7000 and 8000 feet, with the lake surface a thousand feet below. The lake itself is nearly 2000 feet deep, the deepest lake in the United States.
The Sinnott Memorial Overlook was our next stop. The Overlook is down a set of steep stairs that drop you just below the rim of the crater. It is worth a visit for the exhibits about the geology of the region and especially for the view from an open balcony.
Crater Lake is an amazing geological formation that can teach us a fair bit about the world around us, from rock formations, to water minerals, to weather patterns. Visiting this park is best done in a couple days than in a couple hours. A full drive or bike ride around the rim would be fantastic, and there are a variety of hikes for every ability, down to the lakeshore or up to the highest peak.
If you're interested in reading more about Crater Lake, download this summer's Visitor Guide.
Have you ever had only a few hours to spend in a National Park? How did you make the most of it? Share in the comments below!