Crater Lake & Oregon Caves Day Trip

2 Day Planned Itinerary to Explore Southern Oregon!

There are two great day-trips from Jacksonville that highlight the natural diversity of Southern Oregon – Crater Lake and Oregon Caves. Neither drive is too challenging but each makes a full day to get there, see the sites and get back. Check out our extensive planned days below for an exciting adventure including how to get there, tips and tricks and must see items!

A stunning National Park, Crater Lake is widely known for its intense blue color of the water and for being the deepest lake in the United States. Complete with spectacular views its absolutely a must see all year round.

  • During summer, visitors may navigate the Rim Drive around the lake or take a trolley tour, enjoy boat tours on the lake surface, have lunch or dinner in the historic Crater Lake Lodge, or hike some of the park’s various trails including Mt. Scott at 8,929 ft.
  • The winter brings some of the heaviest snowfall in the country, averaging 533 inches per year. Although park facilities mostly close for this snowy season, visitors may view the lake during fair weather, enjoy cross-country skiing, and participate in weekend ranger-led snowshoe hikes.

Getting There: Crater Lake National Park is just under a two hour drive from Jacksonville and is so worth it. Driving directions are simple – head out of Jacksonville on Highway 238 which turns into Crater Lake Highway until you get to the park turnoff, you can’t miss it!

Tips & Tricks for a Great Day:

  • Check the current conditions – driving and weather/visibility can be variable especially in winter.
  • Stop at Ray’s Market to pick up some snacks and water for the day.
  • If you want to take the boat to Wizard Island secure tickets in advance since seats are on a first-come first-accommodated basis. You can call to purchase tickets, and find more information here.
  • You can enjoy fantastic views of the lake and plan on having lunch at the lodge. Allow extra time if you are interested in hiking.

With no extra driving time you should also stop to see the Rogue River Gorge and Natural Bridge. It is a great way to break up the drive and you will regret it if you don’t see it. This section of the Wild and Scenic Upper Rogue River is forced through a narrow channel of ancient lava beds and is quite mesmerizing.

  • After you pass the Prospect turnoffs start looking for the signs around 14 miles down the road.
  • The Natural Bridge comes before Union Creek and the gorge just past it.
  • Beckie’s Cafe is in the Union Creek Complex and is a well-known diner.

Additional Resources for Outdoor Adventures & Natural Wonders