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.
Oregon has totally surprised us with how beautiful the state is and this little piece of heaven in Southern Oregon is just amazing. From the story behind Crater Lake to the views on this hike the whole place is absolutely incredible.
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Everything you need to know about Garfield Peak
Garfield Peak is quite the challenging hike but you’re rewarded with views around every corner. You will see all sorts of different shades of blue as you look into the lake and the further you get up Garfield Peak the further into the distance you’ll see.
As you keep climbing and climbing the views will just become incredible. Crater Lake has to be one of the most beautiful “lakes” in the United States.
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 colour of the lake from above and be absolutely mind blown by its dark deep blue colour.
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 the best shot.
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 Crater lake and you’ll notice the names are quite fitting for both of them.
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
Fee: $30 for entering Crater Lake National Park via car or included if you have an America the Beautiful Pass.
Starting at Crater Lake parking lot
Before we dive into the hike a fun little fact about Crater Lake is that it is the deepest lake in the United States, at 1949 feet at its deepest point.
The 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. Fun little fact you can share with friends and family.
Now back to the start of Garfield Peak! It’s great how convenient this hike is because you can leave your car in the main parking lot in Rim Village. That’s where you’ll also find a cafe, restaurant, restrooms, and the visitor information center.
You’ll walk past all of that past Crater Lake Lodge and Crater Lake Restaurant where you’ll see some signs for Garfield Peak!
Main stretch up to Garfield Peak
Once you find the trail the hike is super easy to follow. There’s only one way up and you can already see Garfield Peak from the beginning of the hike. There’s more than likely going to be quite a few people hiking the trail with you as well.
This is probably one of the most popular hikes in Crater Lake and once you get to the top you’ll see why. The view is beautiful!! The best part is the whole hike is open without many trees so you’ll have a view of the lake for most of the hike.
The trail itself is really well maintained and with so many people walking on it daily it’s quite stepped on. We did wear hiking shoes but I think for this hike in specific you’ll be fine with regular walking or running shoes.
If it wasn’t for the crazy heat this would be quite the moderate hike as the elevation isn’t that bad and it’s not that long of a hike.
Another nice thing is that the elevation is very gradual so there aren’t any sections of the hike where you just have straight uphills which is nice. You can take your time walking and enjoying the view.
Taking in the view from the top of Garfield Peak
Don’t get me wrong you can get awesome pictures and views from all around Crater Lake but the view from the top of Garfield Peak is something else. You’re way above the lake and you can see absolutely everything. Especially on a clear day it’s magical.
There is plenty of room at the top of Garfield Peak for lots of people to take pictures, relax, and enjoy a nice lunch. There’s no need to wait your turn or anything like that which sometimes does happen at the peak or summit of popular hikes.
Thankfully there’s plenty of room at the top so there’s nothing to worry about. One of the cool things about Garfield Peak is once you’re at the top of the hike you can actually see the trail you took up and the way it snakes around the side of Crater Lake.
Enjoy your time at the peak because it’s one of the best views in Crater Lake National Park.
Journey back down from Garfield Peak to Rim Village
The hike is an in and out trail so the way back down is the same way you came up. The way down is quite quick unless there’s big groups of people coming up because of the steady decline it’s quite easy to get going quite fast down from the peak.
In case you forget to bring food or anything else you may want to stop at Crater Lake Restaurant right next to the trailhead. It’s right at the bottom of the hike on the left hand side when you’re coming down.
It’s also a good place to rest and hangout for a while before you head to the campsite or to your next destination!
Camping near Crater Lake
There are a few great camping places near Crater Lake and if you have the chance to go during early summer to late fall when the National Park is open then try and stay a night or two camping near Crater Lake. There are a few really good campsites that are only a short drive from the actual lake.
That way you’re not to far from the lake and can enjoy hikes like Garfield Peak and other local hikes in the area without having to drive from Portland or Bend just for the day.
Manzama tent and RV park
This campsite like most campsites in Crater Lake is only open in summer. You can actually reserve online to get a spot at Manzama Campground.
Sites range from $21 – $37 a night depending if you’re tenting or RV’ing and it’s only a 9 minute drive to the Rim Village (where Garfield Peak starts).
Lost Creek Campground
Lost Creek Campground is usually open from July until October depending on the weather since Crater Lake National Park isn’t open in the winter. Once you drive the roads you’ll understand why.
The campsite has 16 spots for tents. It’s not possible to make reservations. Try and get there earlier in the morning and reserve your spot and then have the rest of the day to do whatever you want. It’s a short 8 mile drive to the trailhead from Lost Creek Campground too.
How to get to Crater Lake National Park
It depends where you are coming from since there are few entrances into the national park. The main ones where most people travel too are from Bend and Portland.
From anywhere in Bend
- It should take you just over 2 hours from Bend to Crater Lake.
- Directions can be found here.
From anywhere in Portland
- It’s quite the drive from Portland to Crater Lake but if you camp for the weekend it’s totally worth visiting.
- The 4.5 hour directions can be found here.
Before you go to Crater Lake
If you have an America The Beautiful pass then that’s great! But if you don’t, it’s absolutely worth purchasing it since it allows you access to ALL National Parks in the US for a full year! The pass is 80$ 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 that are located in a National Park where you need the pass!
Hiking Tip: Look up the trail on AllTrails before starting your hike 🗺️. You can find important trail information such as recent wildlife sights and trail closures. Check out the free version here or get a 7-day free trial of AllTrails Pro here.
Leave no trace
When you go hiking (and do other outdoor adventure activities), always remember to follow the 7 principles of leaving no trace.
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts.
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of others.
What to bring hiking Garfield Peak
The nice thing about Garfield Peak is that it’s not that long of a hike that you don’t have to bring too much. Basically, just enough snacks and water that will fit in your backpack and keep you going for a few hours!
Packing list for Garfield Peak:
- Water! We always fill up our LifeStraw bottles before hikes and even during them when we can. You can easily fill it up at the Rim Village Cafe or at the Crater Lake Tourist office.
- Sunscreen is a must for hiking around Crater Lake in the summer. We’re obviously kidding but if you don’t want to burn it’s at least recommended. You’re literally exposed to the sun the whole time during this hike.
- A power bank is such an underrated gadget to bring on hikes. The countless times where my phone has died at the top of a hike without a way to charge it is too much. Power banks fix that!
- Bring some lunch for a nice picnic at the top of Garfield Peak. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the view of Crater Lake. There’s a huge plateau at the top so you can easily find a nice spot to relax.
- If you have weak knees, you might want to bring hiking poles! The ascents and descents from the peak will be much easier with poles. Especially for how steep this hike gets near the top.
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!
Best time to hike Garfield Peak
There isn’t a bad time to hike up Garfield Peak (apart from during thunderstorms). We definitely recommend hiking up for sunrise or sunset as you’ll get the sun peeking over the mountains in the morning or just setting over them in the evening.
You’ll get great reflections with the clear water of Crater Lake, which will make for amazing pictures! #instaworthy
The only thing we’d say is to maybe not hike it mid-day during the summer. You’re completely out in the open and the sun is just beaming down on you the whole time. Either do it in the morning or late afternoon during the summer or else go prepared with everything you need to not get sunstroke!
You may also like…
- The Best Mountain Biking Adventure in Oregon
- Latourell Falls – Gorgeous Waterfall Hike near Portland
- Tamanawas Falls – Easy Waterfall Hike in Mt Hood
- The 10 Best Waterfall Hikes to do in Oregon
- Ramona Falls – Mt Hood Waterfall Hike
Recap of the Garfield Peak hike in Crater Lake National Park
- We highly recommend checking the operating hours and season as it may be closed in the winter due to heavy snowfalls. Please check here before you embark on a trip to Crater Lake.
- Remember to purchase an America The Beautiful pass if you plan to visit multiple National Parks (to save a lot of money).
We hope you enjoy Garfield Peak Trail as much as we did and that you’re slightly more prepared than we were! This hike is so exposed and in the summer months, it gets absolutely scorching hot basically throughout the whole hike.
We’ve warned you!! There’s no reason you shouldn’t have a bunch of water, a hat, sunscreen, and anything else to protect you from the sun.
We hope you have a blast on this trail. Crater Lake National Park is amazing and there are so many other good hikes to do not just this one.
You can easily spend a few days here. If you have any questions about the hike you can DM us on Instagram or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you ASAP!