A visit to Crater Lake

Crater Lake Travel Blog

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Me at the lake
I had the opportunity to drive south from Portland to San Francisco with my friend Glenn. We stopped the first night in Grant's Pass, OR, and the next morning headed toward Crater Lake. Thanks, Glenn, for a great drive!

Crater Lake lies in southwest Oregon, United States, in Crater Lake National Park. It is about 245 miles south of Portland, OR, 80 miles northeast of Medford, OR, or about 60 miles north of Klamath Falls. Like all parks in the U.S. national park system, there is a $10 charge to drive a vehicle into the park through either its north or south entrance. This will give you a 7-day pass that will enable you to re-enter the park as many times as you wish during that time.
Wizard Island in the foreground
Inside the park is a visitor's center which has a bookstore, theater, and displays that feature the layout and history of the park. The crater rim drive allows visitors to completely drive around the 6-mile diameter lake, and a number of vista points allow breathtaking views.

The formation of Crater Lake began about 6,000 years ago. Before that time, Mount Mazama had been building up through repeated volcanic eruptions. A particularly active period practically emptied the magma chamber below the mountain. Without its support, much of the top part of the mountain collapsed to form a massive caldera, or crater. Over the centuries, this crater filled with water due to rain and snow melt, even while subsequent, but historically less severe, eruptions continued within the newly formed crater.
The rim of the caldera that holds the lake
The lake's Wizard Island is a volcanic cone that rose from the crater floor before the eruptions came to an end. Another cone rose on the opposite side of the caldera, but stopped growing too early to be able to break the present lake's surface. Being 1,943 feet deep at its greatest depth, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S., surpassing Lake Tahoe (1,685 feet) and Lake Superior (1,333 feet). And since it has no inlet or outlet, the coldness and calmness of the water leads to exceptional clarity. The water level in the lake fluctuates by a few feet each year due to evaporation and snowmelt, but the lake has stopped filling because of a natural spillway near the north end of the lake.

Activities at the lake are varied. There are numerous hiking trails within the park offering a range of lengths and difficulties.
Crystal blue waters
The Cleetwood hiking trail is the only route allowing access to the lake's surface. Otherwise hiking within the crater is prohibited. At the bottom of the trail, visitors can catch a boat as part of a guided tour during the summer to Wizard Island, where there are opportunities to hike to Wizard Island's summit, or even scuba dive into the lake. Fishing in the lake's waters and camping on the lake's rim are also offered.

Crater Lake has always been on my list of things to see before I die. We had a tight road schedule to keep so we were at the lake for only an hour or so. If I had a day to myself or with another adventurous person I'd take advantage of the hiking trails and absorb the view from the top of Wizard Island! I definitely have to go back to accomplish that.
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Me at the lake
Me at the lake
Wizard Island in the foreground
Wizard Island in the foreground
The rim of the caldera that holds …
The rim of the caldera that holds…
Crystal blue waters
Crystal blue waters
First view of the lake
First view of the lake
Snow in June at the lake!
Snow in June at the lake!
Nice shot of Wizard Island
Nice shot of Wizard Island
A view across the lake.
A view across the lake.
Where does the lake end and the mo…
Where does the lake end and the m…
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Crater Lake
photo by: WaltJake