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Begin at Steel Information Center, where interpretive displays and a short video introduce you to the story of the lake's formation and its unique characteristics. Then circle the crater's rim by heading northeast on Rim Drive, allowing an hour to stop at overlooks—check out the Phantom Ship rock formation in the lake—before you reach Cleetwood Cove Trail trailhead, the only safe and legal access to the lake. If you’re up to the strenuous challenge, hike down the trail to reach the dock, and hop aboard one of the tour boats for a two-hour lake tour with a park ranger as your guide. If you have time, add on a trip to Wizard Island for a picnic lunch.
Back on Rim Drive, continue around the lake, stopping at the Watchman Trail for a short but steep hike to this peak above the rim, which affords not only a splendid view of the lake, but a broad vista of the surrounding southern Cascades. Wind up your visit at Crater Lake Lodge —allow time to wander the lobby of the 1915 structure perched on the rim. Dinner at the lodge restaurant, overlooking the lake and the Cascade sunset, caps the day.