Crater Lake. One of the most beautiful and well-known lakes in the world. The unbelievable deep blue of the lake, the dark green of the surrounding forest, the lighter blue of the sky – all combine for an eye-pleasing scene. Plus if you are into geology, you have to love the story of Crater Lake. Located in southern Oregon, it is the deepest lake in the United States, second deepest in the western hemisphere and 7th deepest in the world. It is 1932 feet deep and 6 miles wide. The lake was formed when a volcano, Mount Mazama, erupted 7,700 years ago and then collapsed. The water in the lake is from rainfall and melted snow.
Crater Lake National Park is 183,224 acres in size. It was established in 1902 and is the 5th national park to be created. You can drive completely around the lake. The rim drive is 33 miles long. There are over 20 scenic viewpoints. And you’ll want to stop at all of them. Each offers just a little different view of the lake.
There are two campgrounds and two lodges in the park – Crater Lake Lodge and Mazama Village Motor Inn. Crater Lake Lodge is located at Rim Village and has 71 rooms. Mazama Village Motor Inn is seven miles south of the lake and has 40 rooms. Lost Creek Campground is pretty rustic and only has 16 campsites which are tent-only. Mazama Campground has 200 sites and has a dump station, laundry, showers, (but no hookups), a store and a service station.
Hike down to the lake by way of the Cleetwood Trail and you can catch a boat ride that will take you out to Wizard Island. There, you can get off the boat and spend a little time on the island before heading back for the long, steep hike (700 ft. elevation over 1.1 miles) back up to the top of the rim. Or while down at the lake you can fish without a fishing license.
Stretch your legs on some of the over 90 miles of hiking trails and get up close and personal with some of the little critters and colorful wildlife. Part of the Pacific Crest Trail also passes through the park.
Of course you will want to stop at the visitor center and gift shop at Rim Village. While there, take the time to treat yourself to a snack and a drink at the lodge which opened in 1915. Hopefully, it won’t be too busy, and you will be able to grab a seat on one of the wooden rocking chairs out on the porch overlooking the lake. Once seated there you can relax and drink in the amazing view of the lake.
Crater Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes you will ever see. Whatever you do, do NOT forget your camera! You simply can’t imagine a lake so blue it almost looks like it has been enhanced through a computer program – it is something you have probably never encountered anywhere else. There is truly no other place like it.
Getting there: From I-5 southbound, take Exit 188 towards Oakridge/Klamath Falls (OR-58). OR-58 turns into US-97. Go south to OR-138, turn west and then go approximately 15 miles to Crater Lake Rd.
From I-5 northbound take Exit 30 OR-62 toward OR-237E/N. Medford/Crater Lake. Turn right onto OR62E. Turn right onto OR-62. Go about 16 miles to the south entrance to the park.