Do you know which lake is the deepest in the entire country? Any idea where it is located or how it was formed? Have you ever visited it? Taken a boat tour? Gone for a swim?
Now, we have!
Here are some clues.
It was formed around 4680 BC when the volcanic Mount Mazama literally blew its top. The explosion, estimated to be 100 times more powerful than the 1980 Mount St. Helen’s blast, reduced the height of the mountain by about 2,600 feet as it fell into itself.
There are two islands in the lake. The small island is called Phantom Ship (because it kinda looks like one) and the larger one, a volcano itself, is called Wizard Island.
Some of the clearest, most pristine, fresh water in the world is contained within this 5 mile by 6 mile lake.
It’s the ninth deepest lake in the world.
It is 1,949 feet deep.
It’s a caldera lake.
It was founded on May 22, 1902 and protects 183,224 acres of land.
It’s located the Cascade Mountains in southern Oregon.
Welcome to Crater Lake National Park!
I’m sure we’ve found another top ten park here. Check out this picture.
The sapphire-colored water is the deepest blue we’ve ever seen. The bright blue clear sky above pales in comparison. They say this is due to the exceptional clarity of the 5 trillion gallons of water in this lake which is filled either from rain or snow melt from the 542” annual snowfall here. This exceptional clarity is responsible for the mesmerizing color of the lake because water molecules absorb all light in the color spectrum except blue. With no impurities in the lake, only blue light is reflected back out. Nothing short of spectacular.
Just looking at this lake from the Sinnott Memorial Overlook behind the beautiful Crater Lake Lodge (on the National Register of Historic Places) within Rim Village is stunning, but, for us, certainly not enough. We hiked the Watchman’s Trail past Discovery Point to Watchman Overlook where we got a great view of Wizard Island, the cinder cone volcano inside Crater Lake. That did it, we just had to get out to that island so we got tickets for a boat shuttle to Wizard Island for the next day and decided to make a day of it.
We headed out from Mazama Campground first thing the next morning for the 45 minute drive half way around the crater on the 33-mile Rim Drive to get to the first shuttle boat at 7:30 AM. An easy 1.1 mile descent down the Cleetwood Cove Trail brought us to the boat landing for the half hour ride to Wizard Island where we got dropped off for four hours of exploration. This was long enough to hike to the top of the volcano, a 760’ elevation gain in just over a mile, play for a while in the snow still down inside the caldera, hike back down the mountain and out to the Fumarole Bay before the shuttle boat returned. So much fun and the views…
When we arrived back at the shuttle landing a Park Ranger told us that swimming was allowed in the lake but only right here. She pointed to a path leading a short distance past the boat landing toward some rocks along the shore. Off we went to find many other crazies already swimming in the 50 degree water and lining up to take their turn at jumping off the rocks into the water about 25 feet below. What a (frigid) blast!
The hike from the boat landing back up the Cleetwood Trail to the crater rim, another 700’ elevation gain, certainly burned enough calories to earn us a couple of cold ones when we got back to camp. First, though, we continued around the Rim Drive as far as we could before the road was closed due to too much snow. That’s right, it’s July 19th and there is still too much snow here to get the east side of Rim Drive open for auto traffic. There were many more beautiful spots along the section that was open, like Palisade Point, Wineglass, and Skill Head.
Fabulous place and we would both highly recommend adding it to your bucket list.
Bet it lands in our top ten when the adventure comes to an end.