Oregon Vacation: Crater Lake NP

October 21, 2008 at 3:02 pm

On the day after the snow and the storms, we piled the family into the rented Cherokee, and headed south to check out Crater Lake National Park. I was really excited to finally be able to visit this park. For years, I’ve had an inherited poster on the wall of my office, that describes sonic mapping of the volcanic caldera where the lake is located. Now I would finally have a chance to see the lake for myself.

Crater Lake on a calm afternoon

The lake is almost 6 miles across, and at 1,943ft deep, it is the deepest lake in the US. The lake fills the volcanic caldera when Mt Mazama collapsed more than 7,000 years ago. This is the first time I’ve ever been to a place that a mountain used to be. Mt Mazama, once 12,000ft tall, is no longer in existence. Instead, a deep, lovely blue lake sits at 6,000ft. One of the most interesting things about this huge lake is that there are no inlets or outlets. It is filled with local rain and melted snow, and water does not overflow the caldera because of evaporation and seepage through the walls of the crater.

Looking down at Wizard Island

There are, of course, a bunch of photos in the gallery.

Sheer bluffs and blue water

Crater Lake national park is about three hours south of Bend, or Sunriver, OR. The park mostly consists of just the lake and the surrounding ridgeline. A road runs all the way around the crest of the crater, weaving in and out of the edge of the crater, and providing a myrid of beautiful spots to stop and view the lake.

Autumn Sun on the Ghost Ship

On our visit, the wind was blowing cold and bitterly over the edge of the crater. The lake below was rippled, blue, and beautiful. We arrived just before lunch, and took in several views before stopping to eat very tasty meatball subs and chilli dogs at the visiters’ center on the southern rim of the crater.

We spent the afternoon driving all the way around the lake, and stopping frequently to enjoy each new view. There were volcanic islands and rock features, old growth forests, waterfalls from ancient seeping springs, and amazing views in every direction. We all had a great day, and probably, as a family, took close to 1000 pictures in the course of the day.

Mark and his dad have identified a weather bouy in the lake

Every turn of the road revealed a new profile or secrete of the lake. And the most astounding part of the day: we were nearly alone in the park. Throughout the day, we saw only a few other cars and a hand-full of families at the visiters’ center. For a park that receives millions of visitors each summer, we were very lucky to be there on a beautiful, sunny day, when the crowds were completely gone.

Kate and Mark at Crater Lake