Set in the heart of Oregon is a crater lake that is bluer than one will find anywhere in the world. Appropriately named Crater Lake it is now the main feature of the Crater Lake National Park. The lake was formed around 7,700 years ago as the volcano collapsed into a caldera. There is no outlet for this lake and the water only partly naturally fills the caldera. Crater Lake also sports a prominent volcanic island called Wizard Island. Other activities around Crater Lake include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, biking, hiking, and fishing.
About Crater Lake
The water is replaced every 250 years as the rain and snowfall feeding the lake are countered by the evaporation from the lake. It is the deepest lake in the United States and second deepest in North America after the Great Slave Lake of Canada. The volcanic mountain that collapsed here is called Mount Mazama.
- Depth Of Caldera: 2,148 Feet or 655 Meters
- Depth Of The Lake: 1,949 Feet or 594 Meters
- Record: Deepest Lake In The United States (Ninth Deepest In The World)
- Rim Elevation: 7,000-8,000 Feet (or 2,100 to 2,400 Meters)
As the lake has no outlet no fish were able to populate this alpine blue marvel, that was until 1888 when a man named William G. Steel stocked it with fish. Of the six fish species the lake was stocked with, two have survived and thrived - Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon. As these fish are introduced and not native, fishing is promoted.
- Pure: The Lake Has Some Of The Purest Water Found Anywhere In The World
Spiritual Significance To The Klamath
The local Klamath tribe calls the lake "Giiwas" and they have a tradition that their ancestors witnessed the collapse of Mount Mazama nearly 8 thousand years ago. They regard the lake as the "abode to the Great Spirit". The oral stories tell of a battle betwixt the sky god Skell and Llao (the god of the underworld). In this climactic battle, Mount Mazama was destroyed. Crater Lake was one of the destinations used in their vision quests. Visitors to the park should keep in mind it remains a spiritual site to the Klamath. To learn about the Mayan cave mythology as caves being the conduits to the underworld see here.
Winter Road Closures
Crater Lake lies in one of the snowiest inhabited places anywhere in the United States. Consequently, in the winter, the deep snow closes the Rim Drive around the Caldera and the North Entrance. The upshot is that in the winter, instead of being open for cars, the Rim Drive is transformed into a skiing and snowshoeing trail. While the North Entrance Road becomes a snowmobile trail (see here for other great snowmobiling destinations in the US).
- Winter Closing Date: For Rim Drive And The North Entrance - The First Big Snowstorm or 1st November (Whichever Comes First)
Come the spring and the roads start to be plowed. This normally starts in mid-April but due to the sheer amount of snow, it can take some time to actually reopen them. The earliest reopening times for these roads are typically around mid-May. The latest times can be as late as the end of June. The East Rim Drive is the last to reopen between mid-June and even late July.
That being said the main access road is kept open year-round and one can visit the main tourist facilities there.
- Admittance Fee: $30 Per Private Vehicle In High Season and $20 In The Winter Season
There are a number of lodging options here. One of the most significant is the Crater Lake Lodge, this rustic lodge is reminiscent of a bygone era and overlooks the sparkling blue waters at Rim Village. It boasts stunning vistas of the lake together with its sheer cliff walls. The Crater Lake Lodge has a dining room for the famished guest.
Another accommodation option is cabins at Mazama Village nestled in amongst Ponderosa pines. These are beautifully set but seven miles south of Rim Village and not overlooking the lake.
A third option is camping. The Mazama Campground is situated in the forest, just past the park's southern entrance. It is another chilled and picturesque spot to unwind also 7 miles ways south of Rim Village. It has 214 camping sites with each coming with its own fire ring and grill, picnic table, and bear-resistant food locker.
For anyone planning to visit the stunning and diverse landscapes that make up the beautiful state of Oregon, Crater Lake is an unmissable part of any trip. Travelers who post pics of this stunningly blue lake on social media will be invariable asked if they used filters to create that depth of blue.