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Crater Lake National Park: Deepest Lake in the U.S. With Unbelievable Beauty!

Our two-week Oregon vacation was fantastic, making us wish to someday see more of this most scenic of states in the beautiful northwest.

View of Crater Lake and Wizard Island

View of Crater Lake and Wizard Island

Crater Lake

You must see Oregon's only national park in-person to fully believe the unbelievable depth of color in this most beautiful setting!

Crater Lake became a national park during the Teddy Roosevelt presidency in 1902.
Altitude ranges from 4,405 to 8,926 feet above sea level. This national park is open year-round, with snow covering at least a portion of the park for about eight months of the year.

My mother, niece, and I traveled to Oregon to spend two weeks exploring different areas, and this article will address seeing this spectacular national park within its borders.

Mount Mazama

Mount Mazama erupted at various times throughout half a million years, and at its height, this mountain was about 12,000 feet tall. Located in the southwestern part of Oregon, a massive eruption finally caused Mt. Mazama to collapse, forming a caldera. Many inches of ash from the mountain eruption spread into eight states and three provinces of Canada.

Pumice Desert around Crater Lake

Pumice Desert around Crater Lake

Pumice Desert

Surrounding the caldera is a desert of ash called the Pumice Desert. It is eerily devoid of vegetation as the ash is 50 feet deep in most places. This pumice desert is in stark contrast to the lushness of foliage, waterfalls, and other sites we viewed in Oregon.

Interesting Facts About This Lake

The bowl-like caldera eventually began to collect rain, spring water, and snow and filled up to become the beautiful site it is today. The color of the water is an intense blue due to the light refraction in its deep waters.

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States at 1932 feet or 589 meters, and the 7th deepest in the entire world. Lake Baikal in Siberia has the distinction of being the deepest lake at a depth of 5712 feet or 1741 meters.

Native Americans first discovered this lake, according to legend. John Wesley Hillman and some prospectors found the lake in 1853 and named it "Deep Blue Lake."

Crater Lake has a closed ecosystem with no streams of water running into or out of the lake. The water level remains relatively constant, fluctuating only about 3 feet. In the year we were there (1987), they were still allowing boat tours on the lake. Some debate ensued whether they would keep doing that as they did not want anything to destroy this natural beauty and treasure.

We chose not to take that boat tour, but my young niece and I walked the steep 1.1-mile trail down to the water's edge while my mother stayed at the top. Only hearty souls get to see the lake from below because of the steep hike in both directions. No wheelchair access here for sure!

“A lake so vibrant in color that it looks like a fine art painting.”

— Stefanie Payne, A Year in the National Parks: The Greatest American Road Trip

Rim Drive

What is readily accessible to anyone with a vehicle is a 33-mile drive along the rim of Crater Lake.

High peaks surround the rim, and one sees a diversity of fir trees, lodgepole, and Ponderosa pines, as well as various shrubs and wildflowers. At each stop along the rim drive, the ever-present chipmunks were begging for a handout from the vacationers.

Many waysides are available so that people can pull off the two-way road and soak up the beauty from many different angles from above, looking down into the azure waters. It is open around mid-July until closed by falling snow, which is generally sometime in October. So vacationers who wish to see this need to plan their trips accordingly.

Even though it was August, we found some snow and had a snowball fight.

Even though it was August, we found some snow and had a snowball fight.

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Lodging

Crater Lake Lodge, built in the year 1909, had additions added between 1923 and 1953. The Lodge sits on the rim about 900 feet above the lake.

The construction is incredibly rustic, using rocks and logs. Amenities that we take for granted today, like shampoo, and the like, were not included. We paid extra to have a bathroom in our newer cottage, as most rooms did not have those facilities. We had a claw-footed tub and commode in the bathroom with the tiny sink in the bedroom due to space considerations. The mattresses we slept on (or attempted to sleep on) were primitive. Think hammock in a closet-sized room! Hopefully, those mattresses are newer by now. Ha!

Our room did have a spectacular view of the lake that we enjoyed.

One sees some lovely mountain meadow trails when hiking around the lake. We took advantage of this, and the following pictures will show some of what we got to view.

If you wish to see the deepest blue water ever imagined, put Crater Lake National Park in Oregon on your travel plans, and you will not be disappointed!