Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is one of the most beautiful destinations in all of the United States. I don’t say something like that lightly. The jaw drops and the mind numbs at the clarity of the lake and massiveness of the explosion that occurred here more than 7,000 years ago. At about 1,900 ft (594 m), Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and a worthy destination for those who celebrate America’s great outdoors.
I could write volumes about Crater Lake, and others have. But I’m here to help you find lodging near Crater Lake – not always an easy task.
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Where to Stay When Visiting Crater Lake
Lake many of our national parks, Crater Lake is home to a beautiful, rustic lodge constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. It would be a thrill for any mojotraveler to spend a night or two in this classic hotel, but here’s the deal: The Crater Lake Lodge has only 71 rooms and it’s open only mid-May to mid-October. About a half million people visit the park each year, most of them from mid-May to mid-October, so if you are lucky enough to snag one of those 71 guest rooms, just WOW! If I give you a dollar, will you buy me a lottery ticket?
Plus, we visited in early May, so this historic lodge wasn’t an option. We walked around anyway, peaking through the windows where we could. One of these days, we’ll be arrested.
There are also 40 cabins in the Mazama Village, but again, high demand for those 40 cabins. There are two campgrounds with a variety of services, but those fill pretty fast as well – especially with the pandemic surge in everyone wanting to be outside in our national parks.
Klamath Falls is the closest town and it’s about 60 miles away. Really just about anything is at least an hour away.
We were fortunate to have learned about The Steamboat Inn, an adorable little independently owned inn on Highway 138 near a little dot in the road called Idleyld Park, north and west of Crater Lake. The north entrance to Crater Lake is also on 138, about 70 miles away.
The Steamboat Inn – Lodging Close to Crater Lake
The Steamboat Inn has been a family-owned fixture in these parts since the 1960s. For years it catered primarily to anglers in search of steelhead trout in the Umpqua and Rogue Rivers. The inn is located smack dab in the middle of a 31 mile stretch of the North Umpqua River that is designated fly fishing only. There’s a sign just as you enter Steamboat Inn that reads “Shirts, shoes and just a modicum of cleanliness required.”
But a few years ago, Melinda and Travis Woodward bought the place. While they still cater to people who show up stinky after a day in the river or the woods, Melinda admits that she has softened things in a few places to make it equally appealing to those looking for a romantic getaway in the woods.
We had a little one room cabin with parking right by the door. Although other cabins were nearby, we didn’t see another soul from our porch overlooking the Umpqua River. With a bottle of red wine, it was simply perfect.
The Steamboat Inn has a dozen or so cabins and cottages like ours, some with suites and multiple rooms. There is also a three bedroom house. What there is NOT is wifi or TV or any digital connection to the world. You are encouraged to sit and listen to the river, read a book, sit by the fire, drink some wine and unwind.
But, if you have to get out and burn some energy, there are numerous hiking and biking trails nearby and plenty of fly fishing opportunities. The novelist Zane Grey loved fly fishing here and had a cabin nearby. His books are among those in the Steamboat Inn’s library.
Have you read Zane Grey’s books? They might be a great gift for a fly fisher-person in your life.
Where to Eat Near Crater Lake National Park
Steelhead trout is on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days. If you bring your own catch, the chef will cook it up just the way you like. The dining room is covered in rods, reels and hand-tied flies. Locals frequently gather to discuss the one that got away, and other stereotypical fisher folk talk.
We could have had dinner delivered to our room, but the flowers and landscaping were so beautiful and the air so fresh, we decided to eat outdoors. The lights? That’s one of the things Melinda added to soften the place up a bit. And it’s just so lovely to sit there among the trees, listen to the river nearby and enjoy a yummy meal. Bruce had a black truffle ravioli and I had a vegetarian gnocchi. Even if you are not a guest here, the dining room is open to the public. It’s worth the drive.
Unfortunately, we were so eager to see the rest of Oregon, we booked only one night at the Steamboat Inn. Big mistake. Next time, we’ll unwind for days and days.
Enjoy some of Oregon’s bounties at home