Riding Vehicle-Free on the Crater Lake Rim Road

August 25, 2017

Pay attention — or simply plan ahead — and you could enjoy a rare opportunity to experience Crater Lake by bike, without traffic!

First, some inspiration. The Crater Lake Rim Road is, simply put, one of the most spectacular rides in the world. The roughly 31-mile road around the rim of this ancient volcano provides views of the pristine, deep-blue and unbelievably deep lake that resulted from a massive explosion of Mount Mazama more than 7,000 years ago. It’s a unique setting for a challenging ride.

The Rim Road, part of Crater Lake National Park, is a roller-coaster ride that has very few flat spots. Between the stout climbs and the elevation (topping out just below 8,000 feet), this is a ride you need to be prepared (and trained) for — but oh, what a ride! As you try to keep your eyes on the road and not the water; as you breathe in the fresh scent of fir trees; as you stand at a viewpoint and ponder the cataclysmic event that created this singular beauty… you’ll be ecstatic that you made this trip.

Oh, and even if you don’t stay at the Crater Lake Lodge, stop by for a meal, or even just to try to snag one of the (open to the public) rocking chairs on the deck overlooking the lake. Catch a sunny day and you’ll never want to leave.

And now for some logistical details.

During some spring seasons, a 15-mile section of roadway from Rim Village to the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park is available for use by pedestrians and cyclists for a limited time, when the roadway is closed to cars while park personnel work to clear winter debris and ready West Rim Drive for vehicle use over the summer. This unique opportunity comes about depending on weather conditions; it takes a lower-snowfall winter and warm spring temperatures to leave parts of the Crater Lake Rim Route clear earlier than in most years.

Better yet, you can plan ahead for a day of vehicle-free pleasure at the peak of the riding-weather season — September. In recent years the National Park Service has set aside two days each fall as “car-free days,” where the East Rim Road is closed to motor vehicles. A fantastic ride just gets better when it’s only you and your fellow cyclists — what a great opportunity!

Want to find out more?

For more details, dates and other information, start here.

Editor’s note: In Oregon, a bicycle is legally considered a vehicle, and the same Oregon road laws apply. Please “be seen” and practice safe riding. Vehicle traffic, farm equipment and narrow shoulders exist on many Oregon roads, and you may find that construction projects, traffic or other events may cause road conditions or signage to differ from the map results, ride descriptions and directions. For travel options plus weather and road conditions, visit TripCheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941. Routes listed on this website are for informational purposes and intended as a reference guide only.

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When is the best time to visit Crater Lake?

Timing your visit to Crater Lake depends on which activities you most enjoy. Summer, obviously, is the most popular time to visit because the park is most accessible. In addition to viewing the lake from the rim or by boat in the caldera, there are opportunities for hiking, camping and learning about the lake’s history…