Crater Lake National Park vs Dry Tortugas National Park

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“Discover two of America’s hidden treasures: Crater Lake National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park. While both parks are unique, they offer a stark contrast in landscape and activities. Crater Lake boasts crystal clear blue waters in a volcanic crater, surrounded by towering peaks, offering breathtaking views and peaceful solitude. Dry Tortugas, on the other hand, is a tropical paradise with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, surrounded by historic fortifications, making it a perfect destination for history, water sports and beach-goers. Take a journey with us as we explore these two diverse parks and find out which one is the perfect fit for your next adventure.”

Hiking Trails in Crater Lake National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is known for its scenic beauty and geological history, featuring the deepest lake in the country. Easiest hikes include the Rim Drive, a 33-mile road that circles the lake offering multiple viewpoints, and the 1.1-mile Discovery Point trail. The park also offers challenging hikes such as the 7.2-mile round trip to Garfield Peak or the strenuous 8-mile round trip to Mount Scott.

Dry Tortugas National Park located in Florida is an archipelago of seven islands and is famous for its historic Fort Jefferson and crystal-clear waters. The easiest hike is the Garden Key Trail, a 0.6-mile walk to the fort. For a more strenuous hike, try the 5-mile round trip to Loggerhead Key where you can see the historic lighthouse. The park also offers a 7-mile round trip hike to Bush Key, a bird sanctuary, which is considered one of the hardest hikes in the park.

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 Dry Tortugas National Park

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
Fort Jefferson Loop 0.50 mi 3.28 ft loop Easy 4.5/5

Wildlife in Crater Lake National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida differ greatly in terms of wildlife. Crater Lake is home to various mammals such as the American black bear, mountain lion, and deer. Birds, such as the common raven and the bald eagle, can also be seen. The park also has a diverse range of plant life including conifers, wildflowers, and shrubs.

Dry Tortugas, on the other hand, is located on a group of small islands and is primarily known for its birdlife, with over 300 species of migratory and resident birds. Some of the most common birds seen include the brown pelican, sooty tern, and magnificent frigatebird. Marine life, such as sea turtles and dolphins, can also be seen. The park has a limited variety of vegetation, with its main plant species being the mangrove and sea grass.

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

Birds

Crater Lake National Park Dry Tortugas 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 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 American Kestrel
Bald Eagle Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow European Starling
European Starling Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail Green-Winged Teal
American Wigeon American Pipit
American Pipit Swainson’s Thrush
Swainson’s Thrush Killdeer

Mammals

Crater Lake National Park Dry Tortugas National Park
Coyote House Rat
American Beaver
Muskrat
Big Brown Bat
Bobcat
Striped Skunk
Little Brown Bat
Deer Mouse
Raccoon
Black Bear
Porcupine
Silver-Haired Bat
Hoary Bat
Red Fox
Long-Tailed Weasel
House Mouse
Mountain Lion
Mink
Mule Deer Or Black-Tailed Deer
Gray Fox
Wolf
Long-Legged Myotis
Long-Eared Myotis
American Badger
Ermine

Beautiful Landscapes in Crater Lake National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Crater Lake National Park is known for its stunning blue lake, which is the deepest in the United States. Visitors can hike to overlooks for panoramic views, or take a boat tour to Wizard Island, an extinct volcano rising from the lake.

Dry Tortugas National Park is located in the Gulf of Mexico, and is famous for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, including colorful coral reefs and shipwrecks. Visitors can take a ferry or seaplane to visit Fort Jefferson, a historic military fort on Garden Key, and snorkel or dive to explore the surrounding waters.

Things To-Do and Activities in Crater Lake National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Crater Lake National Park is known for its stunning, crystal-clear blue lake that was formed from the collapse of a volcano. Visitors to the park enjoy scenic drives, boat tours of the lake, fishing, and exploring the rim trails for stunning views. On the other hand, Dry Tortugas National Park is located 70 miles west of Key West and is comprised of seven small islands. The park is well-known for its snorkeling and diving opportunities, bird-watching, and exploring the historic Fort Jefferson. Both parks offer camping opportunities, but Dry Tortugas also allows backcountry camping on remote beaches.

Best Time to Visit Crater Lake National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon experiences a wide range of temperatures, with cold, snowy winters and warm, dry summers. The best time to visit is in the summer, from June to September, when temperatures are mild and there are many recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, and boat tours of the lake. On the other hand, Dry Tortugas National Park located in Florida has a tropical climate, with hot and humid summers, and warm, mild winters. The best time to visit is from December to May, when the weather is dry and temperatures are mild, making it a great time to explore the Fort Jefferson and snorkel in the park’s clear waters.

Family Friendliness of Crater Lake National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park

Crater Lake National Park is a more family-friendly park compared to Dry Tortugas National Park. Crater Lake offers numerous accessible hikes and scenic drives, making it easier for families to enjoy the park’s natural beauty. There are also several campgrounds within the park, allowing families to spend the night and have a true camping experience. On the other hand, Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible by ferry or seaplane, which can be a challenge for families with young children. Additionally, camping is only available on Garden Key, and there are limited amenities.

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