The only place you can actually touch the water of Crater Lake is by accessing it from the Cleetwood Cove Trail on the north side of the lake. If you are taking any boat tours or headed out to Wizard island, you’ll have to brave this hike as well. The hike down to the lake is very easy. Just remember, it’s the hike back up that will be hard. Each way, you’re looking to lose (and then gain) about 800 feet of elevation gain in just under a mile. It’s a short distance and there are plenty of benches, switchbacks, and affordances to help hikers manage the challenge.
On warm summer days, there will be plenty of people jumping off of rocks into the waters of the lake. We spent some time sitting on rocks along the shore with our feet in the water but our southern blood wasn’t brave enough to take a full plunge. The waters of the lake hover below 60 degrees, even in the summer. So be prepared for a shock if you decide to jump in!
When we were visiting, we had hoped to take a boat tour out to Wizard Island. But the snowy winter had taken its toll on the boats in the lake. Be warned that you may not be guaranteed to be able to get out to Wizard Island. Even after we had arrived in the park, tours were begin cancelled due to maintenance issues. Do purchase your tickets well ahead of time as they are in hot demand. You’ll get a refund if the tours are cancelled.
Pro Tip: Even though it’s further away from the main attractions, we recommend you skip the dining at Crater Lake lodge and just head over to the Annie Creek Restaurant in Mazama Village for lunch. We had two excellent meals there with far fewer crowds and headaches. We also found our room at the cabins at Mazama Village to be perfectly comfortable. It was certainly not fancy, but it had a shower, wi-fi, and a clean and comfortable bed. Given that the night we visited was one of the rare summer nights with thunderstorms, we were happy to be safely sleeping indoors and to have missed the long check-in lines for the campground.