Camping is typically known for being calm and tranquil with the sounds of nature bound to soothe campers into a deep sleep. While this is true, the same peace of mind doesn't always apply to every campsite - especially when it's one that's at the edge of an active volcano.

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Oregon's Crater Lake is home to more than just camping and while hiking, biking, and water sports are all part of the mix, camping is what it's well-known for. And for most campers, the fact that this volcanic campground is not inactive isn't nearly enough of a deterrent to keep them from taking in its beauty. While Crater Lake is considered dormant, it's currently being monitored for even the slightest changes by the United States Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory network. So, in all likelihood, it's harmless - but it doesn't mean monitoring it for the slightest changes isn't necessary.


The Formation Of The Lake

Those who have spent a great amount of time around Crater Lake have commented on how it never truly looks the same. The landscape and even the color of the lake itself are always changing and that's likely attributed to the volcanic landscape in which it sits. From above, the caldera is clearly visible, with a point in the middle called Wizard Island. This 'island' is made up of cinder cones that rise up from the bottom of the lake, AKA the bottom of the volcano. Although its landscape looks entirely natural, many people are surprised to know that the lake that sits there now never existed 10,000 years ago.

Rather, the volcano known as Mount Mazama sat in its place, rising high up out of the ground to a height of 12,000 feet. According to The Dyrt, the volcano erupted 2,300 years later, causing a devastating eruption whose reputation rivaled that of Pompeii. The Native American tribes in the area bore witness to the three-hour eruption, immortalizing it in legend and folklore. The sheer force and spewing of pumice, ash, and rocks resulted in the collapse of the volcano, thus a massive rainstorm following the eruption resulted in the formation of the nearly 2,000-foot-deep Crater Lake.

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Crater Lake Campsites

There are two main options for camping at Crater Lake and all three of them provide access to its stunning lakeside. The first is Mazama Campground, which is located about seven miles to the south of the crater's rim. This campsite has a total of 214 campsites and is open from June to September before the weather takes a turn and sees more snow than almost anywhere else in the U.S. Those keen on camping at this spot should get in early, though, because through the month of June, the campsites are first-come, first-served. After June, 75% of the campsites can be reserved while 25% remain first-come, first-served.

The campsites as Mazama Campground are fairly basic and include a picnic table, fire ring, and a locker that's bear-resistant for any food storage. The campsites aren't very far apart but they are remote enough to make each camper feel as though they're in the woods by themselves, which is nice compared to other, more crowded campgrounds. Another perk of this campsite is the addition of water-flush toilets and portable water, so it doesn't feel as barren as some national parks might.

The second campground is Lost Creek Campground which is much smaller in comparison. The campground only supports 16 campsites and they're tent sites-only, and this site is open from June to October. The site itself is located fairly close to the crater at three miles below, on Pinnacle Overlook road. There's no trick to getting a spot at this campsite other than to get there early, as it's always first-come, first-served. Campers must also pay for their campsite with cash or check, and the change must be exact.

While it might seem like a lot of hoops to jump through just for a campsite, the views, and the walking distance to the crater's lake, are worth it. The campsites often fill up by mid-afternoon during the peak summer months, according to The Dyrt, so getting there early is a must. These campsites aren't as accomodating as those in Mazama Campground but they do have bear-resistant lockers and picnic tables. There's no portable water here but if you come prepared, that shouldn't be an issue, anyway. It's definitely more of a rough-and-tumble campsite, but some people might prefer to trade up the location and the remoteness for a campsite that features less 'luxury' options.

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