One of the World’s Most Stunning Sights
Crater Lake, located in Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon stands out as one of the state’s top visitor destinations. In a state filled with beautiful bodies of water, breathtaking scenery, rugged landscapes, and amazing sights, this is really saying something! In fact Crater Lake is often named as one of the world’s most unique and stunning places.
Approximately 7,700 years ago, Mount Mazama a then-active volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range, erupted emptying the magma chamber. Unable to support the weight of the volcano, the emptied chamber collapsed, creating a six-mile wide caldera. Rain and snow from the surrounding walls melted and filled the depression, forming Crater Lake.
Crater Lake National Park
On May 22, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill creating Crater Lake National Park. The nation’s fifth oldest national park, Crater Lake encompasses 180,000 acres and is home to a large variety of wildlife including Roosevelt elk, mule deer, black bear, coyote, bobcat, porcupine, numerous bird species and smaller animals. Two information centers, a lodge, and two campgrounds with a variety of services help visitors get the most out of their Crater Lake adventure.
Park Entrance Fees
Seven-day passes are available for those wishing to explore Crater Lake National Park. The cost is $10 per vehicle or $5 for individuals entering on foot or bike. If you plan to visit other national parks, consider purchasing a $50 annual pass that is valid in all national parks. The national parks system also offers a $10 lifetime pass for those 62 years and older. Blind or disabled visitors receive free access to all national parks.
About Crater Lake
With an average depth of 1,148 feet and a maximum depth of 1,943 feet Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and the seventh deepest in the world. Average annual snowfalls of 533 inches (45 feet) supply the lake with a steady water source. Yet although the caldera itself is nearly 4,000 feet deep, evaporation and seepage keep the lake from entirely filling the depression. The result is stunning lakeshore walls that tower steeply several thousand feet above the surface of the water.
Because there are no rivers or other moving waters that empty into the lake, it is not clouded by sediments. The trillions of gallons of nearly pure water reflect the sunlight in a way that gives it a stunning blue color. The combination of unusual water color and extreme geography make for a truly breathtaking sight for firs-time and returning visitors alike.
Crater Lake is known for its famous piece of driftwood named the “Old Man of the Lake.” It is a full-sized tree that can be seen bobbing vertically in the lake as it moves with wind and currents. The cold water of the lake has helped preserve the wood for more than a century.
Fishing Is Welcomed at Crater Lake
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Crater Lake was stocked with six different types of fish, but today only two species, the rainbow trout and kokanee salmon, survive. Populations of both fish are stable and number in the hundreds of thousands. Fishing is encouraged at Crater Lake, and no license is required. There is no limit to how many fish you may catch however, only artificial bait is allowed.
Getting to the lake for fishing and for other activities, such as boat tours is a bit of a challenge because the only safe and legal way to get down to the lake edge is via the mile long Cleetwood Cove Trail. The trail, which usually opens mid to late June drops 700 feet from the East Rim Drive trailhead to the lakeshore. This can pose some difficulties on the return trip, as the hike is comparable to climbing 65 flights of stairs!
Crater Lake Hiking
Including Cleetwood Cove Trail, there are over 90 miles of hiking trails in Crater Lake park, including 33 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Crater Lake hiking options range from the easy half-mile Castle Crest Wildflower Garden loop trail to the strenuous Mt. Scott hike that covers 5.0 miles and a 1,500-foot elevation gain to the highest peak in park.
Crater Lake Camping
There are two campgrounds inside Crater Lake National Park. Mazama Camprounds has 200 sites and is open early Jun through mid-Oct. Lost Creek Campground, located in the southeast corner of the park, has 16 sites for tents only. It is open from mid July to mid September. Both campgrounds operate on a first come first serve basis. Additionally, backcountry camping is allowed but requires a free permit.
For more information about Crater Lake hiking, camping, and other activities in Crater Lake National Park, visit their website.