If you're looking for a road trip with glistening blue-green lakes, cascading waterfalls, ancient forests, volcanic mountains, and enchanting towns, then the road trip from Bend, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park is for you. With plenty of outdoor activities - from swimming and hiking to skiing and snowshoeing - a road trip to Oregon's only national park, Crater Lake, is an awesome adventure.
The 260-mile road trip from Bend to Crater Lake National Park takes 5 hours to drive non-stop. You can travel via Eugene, Deschutes National Forest, Oakridge and Diamond Peak, or via Roseburg, Medford, and Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
Continue reading to find out our recommendations for best routes to take, what to see and do during this road trip, and some lovely ideas for places to stay overnight.
How far is Crater Lake National Park from Bend, Oregon, and how long will the road trip take?
|The Eugene Route||260 miles||5 hours|
|The Medford Detour||365 miles||7 hours|
The road trip from Bend to Crater Lake National Park is 260 miles long and takes 5 hours to drive non-stop, when traveling along the Eugene Route option.
Alternatively, the Medford Detour is 365 miles long and takes 7 hours to drive without stopping.
It is possible to drive this distance in one day. However, seeing that there are many stunning nature areas with superb hiking trails to explore, and several historic towns and vibrant cities to visit along the way, you'd do yourself a favor by taking at least 2-3 days for doing this road trip.
Best road trip route from Bend, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park
You can choose from two routes when taking a road trip from Bend, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park. They're both filled with beautiful nature areas displaying some of central Oregon's most special landscapes, including waterfalls, volcanic mountains, lakes and rivers.What's more, both of our routes to Crater Lake allow you to visit museums, art galleries and historic landmarks found in the cities along the way, to get acquainted with local history and culture. Which route you choose depends on which specific landmarks, towns and nature areas you wish to visit.
Both routes first take you from Bend to Eugene past the beautiful Willamette National Forest. Then, the Eugene Route leads you through much of the Deschutes National Forest on the Cascade Range, with notable natural landmarks along the way including Diamond Peak and Crescent Lake. You'll also get to visit interesting small towns such as Oakridge and Chemult on the way.
Alternatively, the Medford Detour takes you from Eugene to southern Oregon. You'll travel past towns and cities with rich history and wonderful attractions, such as Roseburg and Medford, both home to fantastic wineries and hiking trails. You may also enjoy nature's wonders at for example Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and Lost Creek Lake recreational area.
The Eugene Route
Drive from Bend northwest along US Route 20, until you reach Santiam Junction. Soon after, turn onto Oregon Route 126 that takes you past Willamette National Forest and towards the city of Eugene, by the Willamette River.
After exploring this lovely city with beautiful green spaces and cultural attractions, take Interstate 5 (I-5) south out of the city, then Oregon Route 58 southeast towards Deschutes National Forest area.
You'll drive through the town of Oakridge, and can visit Diamond Peak and Crescent Lake on the way. Then, turn south onto US Route 97, and finally, take the turn onto Oregon Route 138 to reach Crater Lake National Park.
The Medford Detour
To drive the Medford Detour, follow first the same route as for the Eugene Route option, until you reach Eugene city.
From Eugene, turn south onto I-5. This major north-south highway will take you past the city of Roseburg where you may enjoy visiting cultural sights or explore the nearby Umpqua National Forest.
You may visit Grants Pass, before reaching Medford, a lovely city of wonderful wineries, breweries, markets and museums.
From Medford, take Oregon Route 62 northeast. This road will take you past Shady Cove and Lost Creek Lake, all the way to Crater Lake National Park.
Best places to stop between Bend, Oregon and Crater Lake National Park
This road trip has plenty of fascinating towns, historic sites, and natural landmarks to explore, and breathtaking Oregon landscapes to admire, of old growth forests, mountains, and waterfalls. Read on to discover our suggestions for where to stay overnight during your road trip, loveliest things to see and do in those places, and some of our favorite hotel recommendations.
Enjoy the fresh air in green Eugene
Eugene is found about halfway along the Eugene Route option. Located along the Willamette River, it is a fabulous city to explore on this road trip: it has a rich cultural life, many beautiful parks and attractions to visit, and it is a gateway to many stunning natural areas.
Eugene is known for its many green spaces and parks, its arts scene, and its politically engaged citizens.
There are wonderful attractions to visit in Eugene. For example, do visit the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History, with great exhibitions about the history of Oregon, or the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art that has collections of Asian and American art.
You'll also certainly enjoy exploring the lively Fifth Street Public Market, with pedestrian access, restaurants, and shops selling local products. Furthermore, Eugene is a wonderful base for exploring the nearby Cascade and Oregon Coast mountain ranges.
For an overnight place to stay, we can recommend Hyatt Place Eugene/Oakway Center. This hotel is located right on your road trip route, and also right in central Eugene, making it easy to enjoy sightseeing while visiting the city.
Hyatt Place Eugene/Oakway Center is a modern, stylish hotel with comfortable and spacious rooms. The hotel offers great breakfast, as well as a jacuzzi and an indoor swimming pool.
You may easily walk to many nearby attractions from the hotel. These include the Fifth Street Public Market, Hult Center for the Performing Arts, and Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
You'll also find a selection of great restaurants, bars and breweries in downtown Eugene, all within a mile's distance from the hotel.
Stop by the Rogue River at Grants Pass
Grants Pass is located about three quarters of the way along the Medford Detour option. It is a small city found along the Rogue River, making it a beautiful spot to stop at with both cultural and outdoor activities to enjoy.
The city is best known for the Rogue River, wonderful for white water rafting and known for its plentiful salmon.
Attractions in the city include the historic Rogue Theater, an art deco building featuring live music, theater and films, and the historic downtown area, featuring antique shops and art galleries.
You can also explore the many green spaces in the city, such as the Riverside Park and the Reinhart Volunteer Park, established largely by volunteers. Or, at Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center you may enjoy a tour to learn about some of the animals found in this region.
As a place to stay, we absolutely love the Weasku Inn, just outside Grants Pass. This beautiful inn offers luxurious, comfortable accommodation in cozy, wooden cabins. The inn features wonderful breakfast, a jacuzzi, a fire pit and free parking.
Weasku Inn is located right by the Rogue River, and right on the route of your road trip, a few miles outside of Roseburg towards Medford. It is at a scenic location indeed, and you'll be in beautiful nature just by taking a walk from the inn along the riverside trails nearby.
Or, you can drive a few miles to reach some of the nearby natural attractions, such as Hellgate Jetboat Excursions and Riverside Park. In Grants Pass town itself you may enjoy dining at restaurants or exploring the historic downtown area with shops and cafés.
Where to stay when you reach Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in Oregon, and a highly popular tourist destination. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the US, and one of the seven deepest lakes in the world. This lake formed by a crater is surrounded by a forest-covered rim filled with stunning nature and hiking trails.
One good option for an overnight stay when visiting this national park is Shady Cove, about 60 miles from the national park. And while you're there, the Maple Leaf Motel is a great option.
This “vintage-style” motel offers spacious rooms with comfortable beds and cozy surroundings, wonderful for relaxing after a day of exploring Crater Lake National Park or other nearby nature areas.
The motel is situated a few miles from Lost Creek Lake, and about an hour-long drive from Crater Lake. It has free parking and a lovely outside picnic area for guests to enjoy.
Southern Oregon Wilderness Adventures is just across the road, and you'll find wonderful restaurants in the small town Shady Cove, less than a mile's walk away, and all just a few minutes' walk from the Rogue River.
Things to see on a road trip from Bend, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park
There are lots of place to see and things to do during this scenic road trip, from stunning national forests to small secluded communities and bigger, vibrant cities with modern attractions. Continue reading below to find out our recommendations for best things to see and do during this road trip.
On The Eugene Route
- Oakridge - Oakridge on the western foothills of the Cascade Range mountains is known as a wonderful mountain biking area, and it is also popular for mushroom foraging, fishing and other outdoor activities. There's also a microbrewery, craft shops, and other small businesses in Oakridge.
- Diamond Peak Wilderness - This wilderness area is located on the Cascades and includes the Diamond Peak Volcano, part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc. In this stunning nature area, you may enjoy hiking or other outdoor activities amongst the vegetation of firs, pines, and alpine flowers.
- Crescent Lake - Crescent Lake is part of the Deschutes National Forest. It is a beautiful recreational area, with blue-green waters, sandy beaches, and wooded shorelines.
- Chemult - The small town Chemult is another wonderful location for exploring the surrounding Deschutes National Forest and other nature areas nearby. You may enjoy activities such as skiing, hiking and dog sled racing here. Chemult is also the location of the annual Sled Dog Races, exciting competition in the area.
On The Medford Detour
- Roseburg - Roseburg is home to many lovely wineries, museums, and rich local history. In the outskirts of Roseburg, you'll also find a series of beautiful waterfalls, such as the Fall Creek Falls, which are found in the western end of the nearby Umpqua National Forest.
- Umpqua National Forest - If you feel like taking a drive a little off the route of your road trip, Umpqua National Forest is an area well worth visiting. It can be well accessed from Roseburg. The forest is home to stunning natural rock formations, waterfalls, canyons, and old-growth forests, and is a superb place to hike along forest trails or to explore ponds and waterfalls. Wildlife found in the area include elk, black bear and cougar.
- Wolf Creek - This area and Wolf Creek Park offers visitors a creek with hiking trails, picnic areas and swimming spots. Wolf Creek is also the site of a historic Wolf Creek Tavern, where for example author Jack London has stayed and spent time writing.
- Grants Pass - Grants Pass is located on the Rogue River, known for its salmon and wonderful white water rafting. Attractions in the city include the historic Rogue Theater and the many green spaces of the city, including Riverside Park and the Reinhart Volunteer Park.
- Medford - Medford is a beautiful city with green areas, cultural attractions, and lovely wineries for a visitor to enjoy. You may for example wish to visit Prescott Park with views from the top of Roxy Ann Peak, enjoy a show or a concert at the Craterian Theater, sample local wines and pears that the city is known for, or hike along stunning nature trails nearby.
- Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument - This geologically and biologically diverse natural landmark is found at the crossroads of three mountain ranges, the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou mountains. The area's stunning natural beauty may be enjoyed through for example hiking, scenic drives, and skiing. The famous Pacific Crest Trail also traverses this natural monument.
- Lost Creek Lake - Lost Creek Lake is found on the Rogue River, and is a terrific place to enjoy water sports and other outdoor recreation. You may for example enjoy fishing or swimming on the lake, or hike the trail following the lake's shoreline.
On both routes
- Sisters - Sisters gets its name from the three volcanic peaks named Three Sisters found nearby. The area is wonderful for hiking and horseback riding, and you'll also find Hoodoo ski resort and snow parks nearby. Furthermore, the city of Sisters has several bars, restaurants and cafés for a visitor to enjoy.
- Willamette National Forest - This national forest stretches over 100 miles along the western slopes of the Cascade Range. It has a history of logging, and it is home to several wilderness rivers, old-growth forests with some of the tallest trees on Earth, and diverse wildlife, including northern spotted owl, bald eagle, Chinook salmon and black bear.
- Finn Rock - Finn Rock community is located on the McKenzie River. You may walk along the riverfront trails, explore the river by boat, or visit the Finn Rock Rest Area.
- Eugene - Eugene is an attractive city on the Willamette River. The city hosts the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, and the lively Fifth Street Public Market with cafés, restaurants and craft shops. The city is especially known for its many stunning city parks and green spaces.
Best time to go on a road trip from Bend, Oregon to Crater Lake National Park
It is possible to visit Crater Lake National Park at any time of the year. However, during winter months, some of the park's trails and roads are often closed because of snowfall. Because of this, July, August and September are generally regarded as the best months to visit this national park, since all roads and facilities are then fully operational.
Temperatures in the summer months (July-August) generally range between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and water temperature then is on average 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. These months are usually rather dry and sunny, making summer thus a wonderful time to visit this national park, should you wish to enjoy the many walks in the area, or swim in this deepest lake of the USA.
Crater Lake National Park offers wonderful opportunities for lake viewing, photographing, skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months.
Because of its high elevation, Crater Lake National Park experiences over 40 feet of snowfall on average per winter, and winters are long and chilly, with temperatures ranging between 20 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that you'll have wonderful chances of enjoying winter sports here! Just note that some of the roads and facilities may be closed during these months.
Spring and fall can be beautiful times to visit this area, with the melting snows and emerging plant life in the spring months, and the fall colors in the fall months. Snow is common from October to June, though, and spring and fall are generally wetter seasons here than summer.
Crater Lake National Park also hosts some lovely sport events over the course of the year. Something to consider when planning the timing of your road trip, if you are at all into exercising in the great outdoors!
For friends of running or walking, the Crater Lake Rim Runs in August is a great event to join. It has been happening yearly for over 40 years, and during the event you may choose different distances to run or walk, all placed along the rim of the Crater Lake.
Or, Ride the Rim Crater Lake takes place in September. During this event, you may ride on two wheels, on one wheel, or walk on your own two feet, some of the breathtakingly beautiful stretches along the edges of this stunning lake with deep, clear waters.