Crater Lake National Park vs Death Valley National Park

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Crater Lake National Park vs Death Valley National Park

“Contrast is the name of the game when it comes to Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park. One boasts the deepest lake in the country, formed by an ancient volcanic eruption, while the other holds the title for the lowest, driest, and hottest spot in the nation. Both parks are a testament to the raw power of nature, showcasing stunning landscapes that will leave you in awe. Whether you’re into crystal-clear waters, towering peaks, or otherworldly deserts, these two parks offer a unique and unforgettable experience that’s just a road trip away.”

Hiking Trails in Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park

Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park both offer stunning hiking trails, but they differ greatly in terms of environment, difficulty, and scenery. Crater Lake is characterized by its deep blue lake surrounded by towering cliffs and volcanic peaks, making for challenging hikes with stunning views. The Pacific Crest Trail, which runs through the park, is considered one of the hardest hikes due to its steep inclines and rugged terrain. On the other hand, easier hikes include the Rim Trail and the Watchman Peak Trail, which offer panoramic views of the lake and surrounding landscape.

Death Valley, on the other hand, is known for its scorching temperatures and rugged, desolate landscape. Despite this, the park offers a diverse range of hikes, from easy nature walks to grueling backcountry treks. The easiest hikes include the Badwater Basin trail, which takes visitors to the lowest point in North America, and the Mosaic Canyon trail, which takes visitors through a narrow canyon with unique rock formations. The hardest hikes in the park include the Telescope Peak trail, which ascends over 11,000 feet, and the Steel Pass trail, which takes visitors through remote and rugged terrain.

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Crater Lake National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Garfield Peak Trail 3.39 mi 1,069.28 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Cleetwood Cove Trail 2.10 mi 623.20 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
The Watchman Peak Trail 1.60 mi 387.04 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Mount Scott Trail 4.19 mi 1,259.52 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Discovery Point Trail 3.99 mi 915.12 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Plaikni Falls Trail 2.00 mi 134.48 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Wizard Island Trail 2.30 mi 751.12 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Sun Notch Trail 0.80 mi 127.92 ft loop Easy 4.5/5
Pinnacles Valley Trail 0.70 mi 39.36 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Mazama Village to Rim Village at Crater Lake 8.28 mi 1,741.68 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5

Most Popular Hiking Trails in Death Valley National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail 1.80 mi 9.84 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Trail 2.79 mi 206.64 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Zabriskie Point 0.40 mi 52.48 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Dante’s View Trail 1.60 mi 360.80 ft out and back Easy 4.5/5
Telescope Peak Trail 11.97 mi 3,322.64 ft out and back Hard 4.5/5
Golden Canyon Trail to Red Cathedral 2.89 mi 574.00 ft out and back Moderate 4.5/5
Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop via Zabriskie Point 5.79 mi 1,092.24 ft loop Moderate 4.5/5
Mosaic Canyon Trail 3.49 mi 1,066.00 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Death Valley Natural Bridge Road 4.29 mi 1,000.40 ft out and back Easy 4/5
Darwin Falls Trail via Old Toll Road 1.90 mi 226.32 ft out and back Easy 4/5

Wildlife in Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is known for its diverse bird population, including the American dipper, osprey, and ravens. The park is also home to various mammals, such as the coyote, American marten, and mule deer. The park’s vegetation is primarily coniferous forests, with some wildflowers and meadows.

Death Valley National Park in California is a desert environment, with a unique array of wildlife adapted to its harsh conditions. Common animals include the desert bighorn sheep, chuckwalla, and kit fox. The park also has a diverse bird population, including the golden eagle and burrowing owl. Vegetation in the park is limited to a few species of desert wildflowers and cacti.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Crater Lake National Park Death Valley National Park
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Northern Harrier Northern Harrier
Sharp-Shinned Hawk Sharp-Shinned Hawk
Osprey Osprey
Tree Swallow Tree Swallow
Mallard Mallard
Canada Goose Canada Goose
Lincoln’s Sparrow Lincoln’s Sparrow
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
American Robin American Robin
Great Horned Owl Great Horned Owl
Red-Tailed Hawk Red-Tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker Northern Flicker
Merlin Merlin
Barn Swallow Barn Swallow
Savannah Sparrow Savannah Sparrow
Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron
Hermit Thrush Hermit Thrush
Bald Eagle American Kestrel
Song Sparrow Bald Eagle
European Starling Song Sparrow
Northern Pintail European Starling
American Wigeon Northern Pintail
American Pipit American Wigeon
Swainson’s Thrush Green-Winged Teal

Mammals

Crater Lake National Park Death Valley National Park
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver Muskrat
Muskrat Big Brown Bat
Big Brown Bat Bobcat
Bobcat Little Brown Bat
Striped Skunk Deer Mouse
Little Brown Bat Raccoon
Deer Mouse Porcupine
Raccoon Silver-Haired Bat
Black Bear Hoary Bat
Porcupine House Mouse
Silver-Haired Bat Mountain Lion
Hoary Bat Mule Deer
Red Fox Gray Fox
Long-Tailed Weasel Long-Legged Myotis
House Mouse Long-Eared Myotis
Mountain Lion Badger
Mink Californian Myotis
Mule Deer Or Black-Tailed Deer Fringed Myotis
Gray Fox Common Shrew
Wolf Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
Long-Legged Myotis Townsend’s Big-Eared Bat
Long-Eared Myotis Bushy-Tailed Woodrat
American Badger Western Harvest Mouse
Ermine Western Small-Footed Myotis

Fish

Crater Lake National Park Death Valley National Park
Rainbow Trout Largemouth Bass
Brook Trout Mosquitofish
Brown Trout Goldfish
Lake Trout
Silver Salmon
Kokanee Salmon
Cutthroat Trout

Reptiles

Crater Lake National Park Death Valley National Park
Western Terestrial Garter Snake Gopher Snake
Racer Terrestrial Gartersnake
Sagebrush Lizard Ring-Necked Snake
Common Garter Snake Common Sagebrush Lizard
Rubber Boa Common Side-Blotched Lizard
Western Skink Rubber Boa
Western Fence Lizard Long-Nosed Leopard Lizard
Smith������S Black-Headed Snake
Tree Lizard
Eastern Fence Lizard
Glossy Snake
Long-Nosed Snake
Western Fence Lizard

Amphibians

Crater Lake National Park Death Valley National Park
Bullfrog Woodhouse’s Toad
Canyon Treefrog

Insects

Crater Lake National Park Death Valley National Park
Orange Sulphur Orange Sulphur
Painted Lady Painted Lady
Red Admiral Monarch Butterfly
Honey Bee American Lady
Purplish Copper Red Admiral
Anise Swallowtail Mourning Cloak
Cabbage White
Silvery Blue
Common Checkered-Skipper
Clouded Sulphur
Honey Bee
Variegated Fritillary
Buckeye
Purplish Copper
Gray Hairstreak

Beautiful Landscapes in Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park

Crater Lake National Park is famous for its stunning blue lake, which is the deepest lake in the United States. The lake is surrounded by towering cliffs, including Wizard Island, a cinder cone volcano. The park also features a 33-mile rim drive with numerous overlooks offering sweeping views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Death Valley National Park is renowned for its vast, otherworldly landscapes and extreme temperatures. Visitors can explore badlands, salt flats, sand dunes, and canyons, including Zabriskie Point, a breathtaking overlook with views of the colorful badlands below. The park also features the Racetrack Playa, a dry lake bed with mysterious moving rocks and towering mountain ranges like the Panamint Range.

Things To-Do and Activities in Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park

Crater Lake National Park, located in Oregon, is known for its stunning blue waters of Crater Lake, which is the deepest lake in the United States and the main attraction of the park. Visitors enjoy scenic drives, boat tours, fishing, and exploring the surrounding forests and meadows. In contrast, Death Valley National Park, located in California and Nevada, is famous for its barren, yet unique and beautiful desert landscapes, including sand dunes, badlands, and salt flats. Activities popular among visitors include scenic drives, camping, stargazing, and off-roading. Both parks offer a variety of ranger-led programs, including talks and walks, as well as opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Best Time to Visit Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is known for its cold and snowy winters, with average temperatures ranging from 20-40°F (-6 to 4°C) and up to 44 feet (13.4 meters) of snowfall. Summer temperatures average from 50-70°F (10 to 21°C) with occasional thunderstorms. It’s best to visit in July and August for the warmest weather and least snow. On the other hand, Death Valley National Park in California is known for its scorching hot summers, with temperatures often reaching over 120°F (49°C). Winter temperatures average in the 60-70°F (15 to 21°C) range with occasional rain. The best time to visit is from November to April, when temperatures are mild and there is less risk of flash floods. Both parks offer unique and diverse weather experiences, making them a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Family Friendliness of Crater Lake National Park and Death Valley National Park

Crater Lake National Park is more family-friendly than Death Valley National Park. Crater Lake features scenic hiking trails, boat tours, and a variety of ranger-led programs for children, offering opportunities for outdoor recreation and educational experiences. Death Valley, on the other hand, is a very hot and remote park with limited shade and water, making it difficult for families with young children. While Death Valley does offer scenic drives and unique geological formations, it may not be the best choice for families with young children. If traveling with children, Crater Lake National Park is the better choice for a family-friendly vacation.

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