The Best Day Hike in Crater Lake, Oregon – Garfield Peak

If you’re looking for the best day hike in Crater Lake you don’t have to go far from the Crater Lake Lodge to find this beauty. Located right past the Lodge is Garfield Peak, which overlooks the mesmerizing Crater Lake and gives you views as far as the eye can see.  

The hike itself has quite a bit of elevation but around every corner, you will see picturesque views of Crater Lake. As you keep climbing and climbing the views will just become more and more dazzling. Right up until you reach the top and then you’ll have 360 views of the whole National Park along with the deep blue lake.


If it is your first time going to Crater Lake National Park then get your camera ready! Once you hike up to the top of Garfield Peak you’ll see the color of the lake from above and be absolutely mind blown by its dark deep blue color. It’s indescribable and you’ll have to see it to believe how beautiful it truly is.

When you’re at the top of Garfield Peak you will get a feel for the deep blue color and how clear the water really is. Take it all in and spend some time at the top once you’ve made it up there.

This picture is from the lookout on the other side of Crater Lake

Garfield Peak is the best day hike in Crater Lake, Oregon

No matter where you go around Crater Lake you’ll get amazing views! With lots of lookout points around the lake, you will have plenty of opportunities to take great pictures. But if you’re looking for that perfect view then you should definitely head up Garfield Peak and get that money $hot.

When you look at the lake you’ll see two very different and unique islands which you’ll get great views of during the hike. Wizard Island and Phantom Ship are the two islands that are located on the lake and you’ll notice the names are quite fitting for both of them. 


An interesting fact about the lake is that it is the deepest lake in the United States at 1949 feet. Once you hike up to Garfield Peak you will truly see how crazy deep the lake is.

There isn’t a bad time to hike up Garfield Peak (apart from during thunderstorms) but we definitely recommend hiking up for sunrise or sunset as you’ll get the sun just peeking over the mountains in the morning or just setting over them in the evening. Plus you’ll get great reflections with the clear water of Crater Lake, which will make for amazing pictures! #instaworthy

It’s not the standard waterfall view at the end of the hike like we got at Ramona Falls or Tamanawas Falls. But Crater Lake is very unique in its own way since it’s a former volcano that transformed into a crater that then filled up with water and became what we now know as Crater Lake.


Practical information about Garfield Peak

Distance: 5.5 km return / 3.4 miles return
Elevation: 325 m / 1069 ft. elevation gain
Type: Out and back
Length: 2-3 hours return
Difficulty: Moderate (But depending on the weather, it can get extremely hot up there in the summer)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


Here’s a map of the beginning of the trail

This is the first hike where we felt like we actually got sunstroke. So please bring water and a hat when you go hike Garfield Peak. We did it in the middle of summer and it was very hot! Plus the fact you’re so high up and exposed increases your risk of getting sunstroke! So make sure to be prepared for any type of weather.


Jo, unfortunately, got a migraine attack and got sick after doing this hike so it’s no joke, make sure you’re prepared for all types of weather.

In case you forget to bring food or anything else you may need for the hike you can stop at the Crater Lake Lodge or at the shop next to the parking lot. You will definitely want some snacks while you’re at the top enjoying the view! Just make sure to not feed any of the animals. Any food you pack for the hike, please pack it back into your bag! 🙂 


The route itself is very easy to follow and you basically just climb the northwestern ridge of Garfield Peak all the way to the summit with a bunch of great lookout points.

You can also find more information about the hike here.


How to get there from Bend

It’s basically a straight shot from Bend and takes only about 1.5 hours.

  1. You’ll go south on the 97.
  2. Then turn off onto the 138.
  3. After, you’ll turn off onto the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway and enter the National Park (where you can buy the America The Beautiful pass if you haven’t already).

Before you go

If you have the America The Beautiful pass then fantastic! But if you don’t, it’s absolutely worth purchasing it since it allows you access to ALL national parks in the US for a full year! The pass is 80$ and most parks are 25$-35$ to access – we’ll let you do the math 😉

There are lots of amazing hikes in the National Parks of Oregon (and the rest of the US) so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth purchasing the national pass. Ramona Falls and Tamanawas Falls are just a few of them!


What to bring

If it’s sunny you will literally be in the sun the ENTIRE time so plan accordingly! Hiking boots aren’t necessary but definitely recommended as it’s pretty steep and gravely. We both wore our hiking boots! 


So bring:

  • Water, water, and more water!!
  • Sunscreen of some sort is a must on a sunny day.
  • Food if you get hungry during the hike or want to have a picnic after!
  • A hat is ideal on a warm day!

If you forget anything there is the Crater Lake Lodge and the tourist shop where you’ll be able to pick up most of the things mentioned above!


Other useful info


We hope you enjoy Garfield Trail as much as we did and that you’re slightly more prepared than we were! Enjoy and stay safe out there!

Have fun!

Dom & Jo

Signature | Red White Adventures

47 thoughts on “The Best Day Hike in Crater Lake, Oregon – Garfield Peak

  1. Oooh! This looks amaaazing. Those views are stunning, although not worth getting sun stroke for. Was Jo okay?

    I do love volcanic landscapes, and the distance and elevation is pretty moderate considering how stunning the reward (views) are!!

    1. Haha, no not quite worth getting sun stroke for. Yes, I was okay. I went to bed at 8 pm after having some painkillers and a lot of water. I slept for 12 hours and felt fine. Thank you for asking!

      Yes, that’s very true! What volcanic landscapes have you hiked before? 🙂
      – Jo

    1. So intense! This just proves how amazing nature can be 🙂 Make sure to add it to your bucket list if you love stunning views!
      – Jo

  2. National parks are life! I knew of Crater Lake but haven’t had the chance, it’s absolutely beautiful, OK onto the bucket list she goes. Thank you!

    1. Oh you should definitely go! It might be a little out of the way but it’s so worth it 🙂 glad we convinced you!
      – Jo

  3. Beautiful photos! It looks stunning – I love crater lakes. I’ve not really travelled in the US (not sure a week in New York City counts!) but I’d like to, and I’m always interested in collecting hiking ideas, so I’m definitely saving this post!

    1. A week in New York definitely counts! But the US is so big that you need multiple trips 😉 Oregon is a state worth visiting! Thanks for stopping by, Rachel 🙂
      – Jo

  4. Loved reading your post! I’ve only been to Crater Lake once but it was snowy and cold the whole time (and this was in June!) so I’d love to visit again in the sunshine.

    So wild to think that it can be so hot there, too, as I always associate Oregon with cooler weather. It’s such a beautiful place though and I loved reading about Garfield Trail – I’ll have to try hiking it when I return in better weather haha.

    1. Oh how fun! It must’ve been stunning despite the cold 🙂 once you return to the US you should definitely go visit and hike this one!
      – Jo

    1. Hey Patty,

      Thanks! We totally agree. Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon! Definitely a place worth checking out!


  5. Wow, what beautiful views! I’ve been visiting a different national park every year for the past couple years, and I’m thinking this one just jumped to the top of my list of where to go next!

    1. Thank you so much!! I’m really glad you like it 🙂 It’s so great to always have each other when we travel!
      – Jo

  6. I love visiting National Parks and hiking. My husband and I would often take day trips to different state parks in East Tennessee and hike waterfalls

    1. Hey Chris,

      We feel the same way! Out of everywhere we’ve gone in the States it’s safe to say Oregon was definitely one of our top 2 places for sure! Hopefully you get out there soon enough! 🙂


    1. Hi Blair,

      Well if you’re ever traveling around Alberta you can definitely go visit this area as well and take in all these views! 🙂


    1. Hey Aubry,

      Do you hike quite often!? We had no idea the potential Oregon had! We love hiking in Oregon so much we definitely recommend it! 🙂


    1. Hey Erica,

      Thanks so much! It sure was and we will definitely go back one day! Come back and let us know if you ever make it there one day!


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