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Best Sunrise Spots In Crater Lake National Park

Wizard Island at Crater Lake

There are several awesome sunrise spots in Crater Lake National Park to catch an amazing sunrise over the lake.  Crater Lake is a stunning volcanic lake in southern Oregon.  The vibrant blue lake is contained in the now-collapsed Mount Manzama Volcano.  The dramatic steep crater rim provides incredible unobstructed views of the lake from nearly any angle.

The Rim Drive on the western edge of the lake is the best place to catch the sun rising over the eastern rim of the crater.  This post outlines the best places to watch or photograph a sunrise in Crater Lake National Park.

Watchman Peak Overlook

Watchman Peak is one of the best sunrise spots in Crater Lake National Park.
Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

Watchman Peak Overlook is one of the best sunrise spots in Crater Lake because it lines up perfectly with Wizard Island.  Wizard Island is the cinder-cone island sticking up out of the lake, and the only island in Crater Lake.  It’s like a volcano within a volcano.

If you take the 1.7 mile trail, you will climb 400 feet up to the fire lookout and have simply stunning views of the entire lake.  To make it in time for sunrise, leave an extra 30-45 minutes to hike up to the overlook (depending on ability).

Wizard Island fits perfectly in your field of view while photographing the sunrise over the eastern rim of the crater.  This provides some nice middle or foreground interest to your photos.  And that’s why it’s my number one place to catch a sunrise in Crater Lake National Park.

Watchman Peak Trailhead/Parking Area is one of the best sunrise spots in Crater Lake.
Watching Sunrise from Watchman Peak Trailhead is equally spectacular.

If you are not up for hiking at the crack of dawn, you can simply watch the sunrise from the viewing platform at the trailhead/parking lot.  It has similar views from a slightly lower vantage point.  There are also bathrooms located here.

Discovery Point Trail

Discovery Point Trail is another one of the best sunrise spots in Crater Lake.  The 2.4 mile trail leaves conveniently from the Rim Village Visitor Center or you can start at this pull-out.  There are bathrooms at the Rim Village.

And you don’t even need to hike the entire trail if you are just looking for a peaceful spot to watch the sunrise.  There are endless great views along the trail, but the actual “Discovery Point” viewpoint is 1 mile from the Rim Village Visitor Center.

Unnamed Pull-Outs

You can catch an awesome sunrise from several unnamed pull-outs on the Rim Drive.

There are several unnamed pull-outs along the Rim Drive that also make for great sunrise spots in Crater Lake National Park.  These pull-outs offer great views of the lake, but no bathrooms, so plan ahead.

Rim Drive Pull-Out #1

Rim Drive Pull-Out #2

Tips For Catching Sunrise At Crater Lake

Best sunrise spots in Crater Lake National Park.

To make sure you don’t miss sunrise, it’s best to leave extra time.  I recommend getting to your spot about 30-45 minutes before the actual sunrise.  This will give you plenty of time to set up some chairs or a camera tripod.

Dress Warm!!!  Even in the summer it can be chilly or downright freezing in the morning.

Expect some snow on trails until midway through the summer.  Use our tips for winter hiking if you still want to hit the trails with snow.  (but be aware that the NPS often keeps trails closed due to snow).

Check the visibility on the webcams.  You don’t want to go through all the effort of getting to your sunrise spot only to find that the entire lake is hidden by clouds or wildfire smoke.

Check for road closures, trail closures, or other alerts.

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Best Sunrise Spots at Crater Lake