Crater Lake National Park
By: Daniel Taylor
Posted On: 2014-12-20
Crater Lake National Park is located in the Northwestern United States, near Medford, Oregon. It was the fifth National Park to be established by the U.S. Congress. It has been the only National Park in the state of Oregon since its creation in 1902.
The most notable feature of Crater Lake NP is its namesake, Crater Lake, which sits atop the destroyed volcano, Mount Mazama. The deepest lake in the United States, its water is some of the purest in the world, supplied exclusively by snow- and rainfall. Because the water is so clean and so still (there are no streams flowing into or out of the lake), it is often an incredible shade of blue.
The lake’s crater was formed roughly 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama experienced a massive eruption that caused the mountain to collapse. The resulting caldera, over 2,100 feet deep, now hosts the striking Crater Lake.
Crater Lake NP is best visited from late Spring to early Autumn. In the wintertime roads often go unplowed and it is common for the park’s roads to be covered by 15+ feet of snow.
Late in the summer, on the other hand, the weather is wonderful and the wildflowers are at their best. Take a two-hour boat tour of the lake and get an up-close view of its two islands, Phantom Ship and Wizard Island.
Phantom Ship is a small island on the eastern side of the lake with a few dozen trees that is more of a landmark for navigation and identification than anything else. Wizard Island is a larger, cinder cone island located on the western side. You could actually land a small boat and do a bit of hiking there, if you wanted to take a closer look.
Another popular attraction is the famous Rim Drive. Easily the most traveled road in the park, Rim Drive encircles the lake from the rim of the volcano’s caldera. It provides breathtaking views of the pristine lake 1000 feet below.
For those wishing to hike, there are seven trails of varying degrees, including 33 miles of the famed Pacific Crest Trail. Other options include:
• Cleetwood Cove
• The Watchman (provides views of Mount McLoughlin, Mount Scott and Klamath Basin)
• Lightning Spring (great for wildlife viewing)
• Castle Crest Wildflower Garden (easiest trail with lots of wildflowers)
• Plaikni Falls
• Garfield Peak
If you want to stay for a few nights, you can rent a room at the lodge, book a cabin at the campground or obtain a permit and camp in the backcountry. No matter your preference, there’s plenty to do at Crater Lake National Park.