Circle the Country's Deepest Lake

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
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Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
national parks in winter

photo: Tyler Roemer

This pool cradled in the leftover bowl of an ancient volcano is at its still, sparkling best in the off-season, when snow frames the crater rim. That’s when the road circling Crater Lake, a stop-and-snap series of drive-by viewpoints in summer, transforms into one of the park system’s finest multiday ski or snowshoe tours (day trips also possible). The three- to four-day, 31-mile circuit treats experienced winter travelers to challenging climbs, hulking snowdrifts (the park averages 520 inches of snow yearly), lakeview campsites under snowy evergreens, and a peek at the 1,943-foot-deep lake from every angle. From Rim Village, follow the ungroomed West Rim Drive clockwise around the crater, dipping in toward the crater rim when conditions allow. Camp in the trees (away from the road and out of the wind) and bring extra food (in case common winter storms strand you) and avalanche skills. Season December to May (go in March and April for the best weather and longer daylight hours) Permit Free; pick up at the visitor center or ranger station