Crater Lake is a stunningly beautiful and serene national park located in southern Oregon. It is the deepest lake in the United States, with a depth of nearly 2,000 feet. It is also known for its crystal-clear blue waters, which are some of the bluest in the world.
The lake was formed over 7,000 years ago when the top of Mount Mazama collapsed following a massive volcanic eruption. Over time, the crater filled with rain and snowmelt, forming the deep, clear lake that we see today. Crater Lake was established in 1902, and is the only national park in Oregon.
One of the most popular activities at Crater Lake is hiking. The park has a number of trails that offer breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding area. Some of the most popular hikes include the Rim Trail, which offers panoramic views of the lake, and the Watchman Peak trail, which offers a challenging but rewarding climb to the top of the peak. We visited Crater Lake for one day, and we chose to hike the Cleetwood Cove Trail. This is the only trail with access to the shore of Crater Lake.
The trail is steep and strenuous, and not for the faint of heart. It is a 2.2 mile roundtrip trail that drops 700 feet in elevation through a series of switchbacks. There are a few shaded areas and benches to sit and catch your breath, or simply take in the views. Expect high traffic in the summer, and prepare for the heat. Once you’ve reached the bottom of the lake, take some time to relax and enjoy the view. The clear water is inviting, with great spots for diving and swimming, if you don’t mind the icy cold water.
Crater Lake is a great place for wildlife viewing. The park is home to a variety of animals, including black bears, mule deer, bald eagles, and my favorite, the chipmunk. The best time to spot wildlife is in the early morning or late evening, when the animals are most active.
I wanted to take this little one home with me!
Can you see the volcano in the middle of the lake? Wizard Island is a volcanic cinder cone forming an island at the west side of the lake. It rises 767 feet above Crater Lake’s surface. A boat will take you there in the summer months. You can hike the Summit Trail, a moderate hike that will take you to the top of the island in about an hour.
If you are planning a longer stay to fully explore Crater Lake, there are some in-park accommodations. Crater Lake Lodge, The Cabins at Mazama Village, and Mazama Campground are all excellent choices. You will have to plan ahead as these are usually booked months in advance. You can also opt to stay at a nearby campgound or hotel.
Crater Lake is a truly incredible place that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a hiker, boater, or wildlife enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to see and do in this beautiful national park.