Crater Lake National Park vs Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

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Crater Lake National Park vs Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve

Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St. Elias National Park & Preserve are two of America’s most stunning and diverse national parks. One is a serene oasis known for its crystal-clear waters while the other is a rugged wilderness characterized by its massive glaciers, towering mountains and untamed landscapes. Whether you’re seeking peace and tranquility or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, these two parks offer something for everyone. So get ready to be amazed as we explore these two natural wonders and discover what makes them truly unique.

Hiking Trails in Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve are two of the most popular hiking destinations in the US. Crater Lake National Park is known for its stunning views of Crater Lake and relatively easy hikes, such as the Rim Trail, a 2-3 hour hike around the lake. The park also offers more challenging hikes, such as the Garfield Peak Trail, a 7-mile hike to the top of the peak for panoramic views of the park and surrounding area.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve is a much larger park with a wider range of hikes, including backcountry treks. The park is also known for its challenging hikes, such as the Root Glacier Trail and the Kennicott Glacier Trek, both of which are multi-day treks. However, the park also offers easier hikes, such as the Nizina River Trail, which follows the river for a few miles and offers great views of nearby glaciers and mountains.

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 Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Name Length Elevation Type Difficulty Visitor Ratings
0.00 mi 0.00 ft /5

Wildlife in Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Crater Lake NP: American black bear, mountain lion, mule deer, common raven, Steller’s jay, black-billed magpie, coniferous forests, wildflowers.
Wrangell-St. Elias NP&P: moose, caribou, brown bear, wolves, sea otters, bald eagles, trumpeter swans, tundra, taiga ecosystems, glaciers, glacial valleys.

Below are lists of the most commonly spotted wildlife at Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve. However, you can see a full list of wildlife at each national park here.

Birds

Crater Lake National Park Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
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 Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Coyote Coyote
American Beaver American Beaver
Muskrat Muskrat
Big Brown Bat Little Brown Bat
Bobcat Black Bear
Striped Skunk Porcupine
Little Brown Bat Red Fox
Deer Mouse Puma
Raccoon Mink
Black Bear Mule Deer
Porcupine Wolf
Silver-Haired Bat Short-Tailed Weasel
Hoary Bat Snowshoe Hare
Red Fox Land Otter
Long-Tailed Weasel Common Shrew
House Mouse Water Shrew
Mountain Lion Red Squirrel
Mink Montane Shrew
Mule Deer Or Black-Tailed Deer Long-Tailed Vole
Gray Fox Lynx
Wolf Wolverine
Long-Legged Myotis American Marten
Long-Eared Myotis Northern Flying Squirrel
American Badger Grizzly Bear
Ermine Meadow Vole

Fish

Crater Lake National Park Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Rainbow Trout Steelhead
Brook Trout Longnose Sucker
Brown Trout Lake Trout
Lake Trout Northern Pike
Silver Salmon Burbot
Kokanee Salmon Silver Salmon
Cutthroat Trout King Salmon
Slimy Sculpin
Threespine Stickleback
Sockeye Salmon
Pink Salmon
Chum Salmon
Dolly Varden
Cutthroat Trout
Arctic Grayling

Amphibians

Crater Lake National Park Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Bullfrog Wood Frog

Insects

Crater Lake National Park Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve
Orange Sulphur Silvery Blue
Painted Lady Clouded Sulphur
Red Admiral
Honey Bee
Purplish Copper
Anise Swallowtail

Beautiful Landscapes in Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Crater Lake National Park, OR, boasts the deepest US lake and a stunning volcanic landscape. Visitors can drive Rim Drive for views of the clear blue waters and caldera of Mount Mazama, plus the remnants of ancient volcanic activity, like Wizard Island.

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in AK is massive, covering an area larger than some US states. It features glaciers, incl. Hubbard, the largest in N. America, and 9 of the 16 highest US peaks. Explore the park’s vast wilderness for views of scenic waterfalls, wildlife, and mountain ranges like Wrangell and St. Elias.

Things To-Do and Activities in Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Crater Lake National Park is known for its scenic drives, boating, fishing, and camping. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve offers a wider range of activities including hiking, backpacking, rafting, mountaineering, and exploring glaciers such as Root Glacier. Both parks offer wildlife viewing, including bears, moose, and caribou. Crater Lake NP is a tranquil destination for scenic experiences, while Wrangell-St. Elias is for more adventurous visitors seeking challenges and unique experiences.

Best Time to Visit Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Crater Lake NP in Oregon has a mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Winters can bring snow, limiting access to rim drive, but offer opportunities for cross-country skiing & snowshoeing. Best time to visit is June-September for warm weather & clear roads.

Wrangell-St. Elias NP in Alaska has a subarctic climate with harsh, cold & snowy winters and cool, rainy summers. Winters offer backcountry skiing & snowboarding, but limit access to the park. Best time to visit is June-September for milder weather & better park access.

Family Friendliness of Crater Lake National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Crater Lake NP is more developed and easier to access, offering a scenic drive, visitor center and ranger-led activities. Wrangell-St Elias NP&P is more remote, with fewer facilities but offers a chance for adventure such as backcountry camping and mountaineering. If a family’s priority is a national park experience with well-developed infrastructure and kid-friendly activities, Crater Lake is the better choice. If the family seeks adventure and is willing to forgo some amenities, Wrangell-St Elias is a good option.

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