Why Snowmobiling in Klamath is a Must-do Adventure

Don’t let the geologically accurate yet descriptive name fool you. While the Klamath Basin is, in fact, a massive, 16,400 square-mile drainage basin, it’s hardly a lowland. The town of Klamath Falls sits at an elevation just shy of 4,100 feet. And since it’s a basin, it’s surrounded by mountain peaks and ranges that see their fair share of winter snowfall. This area is also wildly diverse, offering an array of varied terrains, forest types, and scenic backdrops.

As such, the Klamath Basin is an inherently great place for snowmobiling. Taking advantage of the cadre of natural attributes, a large number of Sno-Parks encircle the basin, providing hundreds of miles of well-groomed and maintained trails that grant something for all skill levels and abilities from rank novice to expert. Facilities range from a simple warming hut with a few picnic tables all the way up to cozy, amenity-laden lodges, often offering snowmobile rentals.

Snowmobile permits are required. All sno-parks discussed here have restroom facilities but unless otherwise noted, no potable water. Here’s a rundown of some of the best of the basin.

Crater Lake National Park

Remember, you must have a snowmobiling permit to hit the powder stashes and trails.

Snowmobile a 10-mile stretch of groomed roadway that leads to the north rim of Crater Lake, the deepest, cleanest, and bluest in the U.S. On average, Crater Lake National Park receives about 44-feet of snow each year, making it not just one of the snowiest places in the U.S. but also one of the best snowmobiling destinations in North America. The route is usually open for snowmobile use from December through March. Please note that off-road travel is prohibited. Snowmobile rentals are available at Diamond Lake Resort. Park passes are required in addition to a snowmobile permit.

Annie Creek Sno-Park

Just a few miles south of Crater Lake, the Annie Creek Sno-Park provides miles of groomed trails. Additionally, it’s also an official stop on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. With that designation comes ample parking and interpretive signage. Beyond just restrooms, the park is also home to a log-style warming shelter with picnic benches and the added bonus of a bowl-shaped hill next to the shelter that’s perfect for sledding.

Walt Haring Sno-Park

Just northwest of Chemult, this newish sno-park has restrooms AND potable water. And of course, access to miles of groomed trails. From Walt Haring, riders can take the 12-mile trail to the pristine waters of Miller Lake, or connect to the Diamond Lake trail system which sports spectacular views of Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Scott. Note that Chemult is home to the Chemult Sled Dog Races the third weekend of every January, so plan accordingly.

Great Meadow Sno-Park

Seasoned riders will enjoy an adventure to the peak of the 8,200-foot summit of Pelican Butte.

The mile-long Great Meadow is one of the most popular spots for wide-open snowmobiling. That, along with over 165 miles of groomed trails that snake easily through a Cascadian blend of high elevation firs and larches, helps make it well-suited for beginners. More seasoned riders can take a run at a local favorite, the trail leading from the sno-park to the sweeping vistas at the 8,200-foot summit of Pelican Butte. Highway 140 provides easy access coming from Klamath Falls or Medford. Food, lodging, and amenities are available at the Lake of the Woods Resort as well as nearby Fish Lake.

Crescent Lake Junction

The Crescent Lake Junction area is home to the Junction and Crescent Lake sno-parks and a whole lot more. Both parks provide basic amenities but the junction area is home to a number of resorts and other lodging options, restaurants, and places to get fuel and supplies. From either park, riders can explore the Willamette Ski Area, Cascades Recreation Area, Royce Mountain, Odell Lake Lodge, and Maklaks areas on miles of groomed trails.

Quartz Mountain Sno-Park

This less-developed site is a favorite for those looking to avoid the more popular parks. Plenty of scenery, space, and solitude amongst the pines are the primary draws at Quartz Mountain. In addition, 70-plus miles of marked and ungroomed trails provide a playground for those in the market for more of a challenge. A popular stop is the Aspen Ridge Resort, where buffalo can be seen roaming the meadow below the resort.

Tri-Forest Snowmobile Trails

A great time is had by all snowmobiling at Medicine Lake.

Just across the border in California, the Door Knob, Four Corners, Deer Mountain, and Pilgrim Creek sno-parks are connected by more than 250 miles of trails guarded by the old-growth pines of the Modoc, Shasta Trinity, and Klamath National forests. On a clear day, Mount Shasta and the Medicine Lake Highlands consume the horizon. Accommodations are basic at these parks, but snowmobile rentals are available at Deer Mountain.

Written by Discover Klamath for Matcha in partnership with Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau.