Lifestyle

Incredible Winter Camping Destinations in the USA

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Written by Town & Tourist

Winter Camping

Winter camping is growing in popularity and is available in locations all across the USA; however, with that popularity comes the need for some to go a little deeper into the wilderness to get away from the crowds. If you crave spectacular beauty, solitude, and enjoy winter camping in the wilderness, these incredible winter camping destinations are right up your alley!


Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Panoramic Winter View of Crater Lake from Rim Village | WolfmanSF via Wikimedia Commons

Famous for its deep blue color and clarity, Crater Lake was formed around 7,700 years ago by the collapse of the volcano Mount Mazama. Crater Lake is 5 by 6 miles across, with a caldera rim ranging in elevation from 7,000 to 8,000 feet and an average depth of 1,148 feet, making it the deepest lake in the U.S., the 2nd deepest in North America, and the 10th deepest lake in the world. When considering the mean, or average depth of lakes, Crater Lake becomes the deepest lake in the Western Hemisphere and the 3rd deepest in the world. Due to several unique factors, mainly that the lake has no inlets or tributaries, the waters of Crater Lake are some of the purest in the world because of the absence of pollutants.

Crater Lake is also known for the “Old Man of the Lake”, a full-sized tree which is now a stump that has been bobbing vertically in the lake for over a century. The low temperature of the water has slowed the decomposition of the wood, hence the longevity of the bobbing tree.

Phantom Ship Island in Crater Lake, Oregon

“Phantom Ship” rises above the surface of Crater Lake. | By Glenn Scofield Williams, via Wikimedia Commons.

There are two islands  in Crater Lake:

Wizard Island is a 315.85 acre island formed from a cinder cone that erupted after Crater Lake began to fill with water. Public access to Wizard Island is only available during the summer months when boat tours on Crater Lake are in operation.

Phantom Ship (pictured above) is located on the southeast end of Crater Lake and projects 656 feet out from the wall of the caldera. The 500 ft by 200 ft island has seven trees living on it.

Crater Lake National Park provides detailed trail maps for winter camping and hiking trips. All backcountry campers must register at a park visitor center for a free permit before camping; and, campers must ski or snowshoe to their campsite. For those desiring a winter backcountry adventure in a spectacular setting, skiing around Crater Lake on the unplowed Rim Drive is an unforgettable experience. The trip is about thirty miles long and typically requires three to five days, depending on the weather.

While having no indigenous fish population, the lake was stocked from 1888 to 1941 with a variety of fish. Several species have formed self-sustaining populations.

If you aren’t quite ready for winter camping and would prefer to wait until things thaw out a bit, visit Crater Lake Lodges for more information about the lodge, cabins, and campgrounds.

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With an average of 44 feet of snow falling annually in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, you would be wise to pack an extra pair of socks before embarking on this winter camping adventure!


Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Castle Geyser in Winter, Yellowstone National Park, WY

Castle Geyser in Winter, Yellowstone National Park, WY. | [Public Domain]

Winter camping in Yellowstone National Park means fewer crowds, frigid temperatures, and steaming geyser basins. Skis, snowshoes, snowcoaches, and snowmobiles become the primary modes of transportation as roads close, rivers and lakes freeze, and snowstorms transform the park into a winter wonderland.

Yellowstone has a designated backcountry campsite system, and a backcountry use permit is required for all overnight stays; however, while most of Yellowstone’s campgrounds close in mid-September, Mammoth Hot Springs Campground is open year-round to tents and RVs.

There are nine lodging facilities in Yellowstone National Park; however, only two are open during the winter:  Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Unfortunately, the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel will be closed for renovations during the winters of 2016/2017 and 2017/2018. As a result, your only option is the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, which opens Dec. 16, 2017 and closes March 4, 2018. It’s only accessible by commercially operated over snow vehicles called “snowcoaches.”

Castle Geyser (pictured above) is a cone geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park. It is noted for the particularly large geyserite sinter deposits, which form its cone. These deposits have been likened in appearance to a castle. The Castle Geyser has a 10- to 12-hour eruption cycle. The geyser erupts hot water for about 20 minutes in a vertical column that reaches a height of 90 ft (27 m) before changing to a noisy steam phase that issues for 30 to 40 minutes.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, WY | By Brocken Inaglory, via Wikimedia Commons.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, WY | By Brocken Inaglory, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Grand Prismatic Spring (pictured above) in Yellowstone National Park is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. It is located in the Midway Geyser Basin and was noted by geologists working in the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871, named by them for its striking coloration. Its colors match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue.

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Tettegouche State Park

Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota

Baptism River Falls, Tettegouche State Park, MN

Baptism River Falls, Tettegouche State Park, MN | By Desertson67, via Wikimedia Commons.

Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota

Frozen Waterfall in Tettegouche State Park, Minnesota | Img Credit: https://flic.kr/p/bBEy54

Tettegouche State Park is located on the north shore of Lake Superior. The 9,346 acre park contains six inland lakes (four of which support northern pike and one supports walleye fishing), four waterfalls, and a beach on Lake Superior. The 70-foot-tall waterfall High Falls located on the Baptism River is the highest waterfall located entirely within Minnesota. The park contains 22 miles of hiking trails, 12 miles of ski trails, and access to the Superior Hiking Trail. Tettegouche is bordered to the north by the Finland State Forest and shares the Red Dot motorized trail with it. The trail is for use by all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles and is the only ATV trail in a state park.

The park is one of only four state parks in Minnesota offering rock climbing. Both Shovel Point and Palisade Head cliffs are popular spots offering climbing directly over Lake Superior.

Tettegouche State Park has camping facilities available year-round. When the park office is not open, Minnesota State Park permit fees and camping fees are payable at the self-registration station located at the park office. In addition to their campgrounds, Tettegouche State Park has several other lodging options, including:

Tettegouche Camp
Only accessible by foot, mountain bike, cross-country skis, or snowshoes, Tettegouche Camp is located in the interior of Tettegouche State Park and offers a shower building, a lodge, and four year-round rentable cabins. There are no bathrooms in these cabins; a shower building and toilet facilities are a short walk away. These cabins do not have running water; however, jugs are provided and guests may use the shower building or the hand pump to collect water.

Illgen Falls Cabin
Without a doubt the most popular cabin in Tettegouche State Park, the 2-bedroom Illgen Falls Cabin overlooks the falls and is available year-round.

Related Reading & Resources:


Sources:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crater_Lake
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Geyser
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tettegouche_State_Park

 

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Town & Tourist

A travel resource guide that has been carefully crafted and curated by travel bloggers to help you find the best places to travel to in the USA.