Crater Lake National Park

State: Oregon

Established: May 22, 1902

Area: 183,224 acres (74,148 ha)

History of Crater Lake National Park:

A trio of gold prospectors: John Wesley Hillman, Henry Klippel, and Isaac Skeeters were the first whites to visit the lake. On June 12, 1853, they stumbled upon the long, sloping mountain while hunting for provisions. Stunned by vibrant blue color of the lake, they named the indigo body of water „Deep Blue Lake“ and the place on the southwest side of the rim where he first saw the lake later became known as Discovery Point. But gold was more on the minds of settlers at the time and the discovery was soon forgotten. The suggested name later fell out of favor by locals, who preferred the name Crater Lake.

Crater Lake National Park protects the deepest lake in the United States. Fed by rain and snow (but no rivers or streams), the lake is considered to be the cleanest large body of water in the world. The water is exceptional for its clarity and intense blue color.

The lake rests inside a caldera formed approximately 7,700 years ago when a 12,000-foot-tall (3600m) volcano collapsed following a major eruption. The eruption may have been the largest in North America in the past 640,000 years. Later eruptions formed Wizard Island, a cinder cone near the southwest shore.

Today, old-growth forests and open meadows blanket the volcano’s outer slopes, harboring a variety of plants and animals, including several rare species. The area is central to the cultural traditions of local American Indian tribes.

The facts about Crater Lake:

How big is Crater Lake?

  • 6.02 miles across (maximum)
  • 4.54 miles across (minimum)
  • 1,943 feet deep at deepest point
  • Holds 4.9 trillion gallons of water
  • Tallest point on rim 1,978 feet above lake
  • Lowest point on rim 507 feet above lake

Why is the lake so blue?

  • Others colors of spectrum are absorbed. Blue wavelengths are scattered and seen by human eyes.

How to get to Crater Lake National Park:

Enter the park from west (Medford, about 85 miles away) or the south (Klamath Falls, about 65 miles away) on Oreg. 62, or in summer from the north on Oreg. 138. Airports: Medford and Klamath Falls.

When to go to Crater Lake National Park:

Go in the summer to see the lake at its best. Oreg. 62 and the access road leading to Rim Village remain open in winter, and both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular. The drive around lake usually closes in October because of snow; some years, the drive may not open until mid-July. Peak wildflower viewing is late July/early August.

Hiking trails in Crater Lake National Park:

Easy trails

Pinnacles Trail

Length: 1 mile (1.6 km)

Time: 30 minutes

Trailhead Location: End of the Pinnacles Spur Road, 7 miles (11.3 km) southeast of the Phantom Ship Overlook.

Description: Easy walk along the rim of Pinnacle Valley. Great views of volcanic spires. Trail ends at park boundary. Open to bicycles.

 

Godfrey Glen

Length: 1 mile (1.6 km) loop trail

Time: 30 minutes

Trailhead Location: 2.4 mile (3.9 km) south of Park Headquarters.

Description: Easy stroll through an old-growth forest, with some canyon views.

 

Castle Crest

Length: 0.5 mile (0.8 km) loop trail

Time: 30 minutes

Trailhead Location: East Rim Drive, 0.5 miles (0.8 km) east of Park Headquarters. Can also access from the Steel Visitor Centre.

Description: Loop trail through a beautiful meadow. The trail is rocky and slippery in places.

 

Lady of the Woods

Length: 0.5 mile (0.8 km) loop trail

Time: 30 minutes

Trailhead Location: Behind the Steel Visitor Centre, on the south side of the building.

Description: Loop trail around Park Headquarters.

 

Easy to Moderate trails

 

Plaikni Falls

Length: 2.2 miles (3.5 km)

Time: 1 hour

Trailhead Location: Pinnacles Road, 1.2 miles (1.9 km) southeast of the Phantom Ship Overlook.

Description: Quiet walk through an old-growth forest to a waterfall.

 

Sun Notch

Length: 0.5 miles (0.8 km)

Time: 30 minutes

Trailhead Location: East Rim Drive, 4.4 miles (7.1 km) east of Park Headquarters.

Description: Short uphill walk through a meadow to the rim of Crater Lake.

 

Moderate trails

 

Discovery Point

Length: 2.2 miles (3.5 km)

Time: 1 hour

Trailhead Location: West end of Rim Village.

Description: Mostly level trail along the rim of Crater Lake, connecting Rim Village with Discovery Point. Fine views of the lake and Wizard Island.

 

Annie Creek

Length: 1.7 miles (2.7 km) loop trail

Time: 1.5 hours

Trailhead Location: Mazama Campground, behind the amphitheater.

Description: Moderately strenuous trail through a deep, stream-cut canyon.

 

Moderate to Strenuous trails

 

Watchman Peak

Length: 1.6 miles (2.6 km)

Time: 1 hour

Trailhead Location: 3.8 miles (6.1km) northwest of Rim Village.

Description: Moderate ascent to a lookout above Wizard Island. Spectacular views in all directions. Great place to watch sunset.

 

Crater Peak

Length: 6.4 miles (10.3 km)

Time: 3.5 hours

Trailhead Location: East Rim Drive, 3 miles (4.8 km) east of Park Headquarters at the Vidae Falls Picnic Area.

Description: Moderately strenuous walk to the summit of a small volcano. No lake views, but fine views of the Klamath Basin to the southwest. A peaceful walk through forests and meadows.

 

Strenuous trails

 

Garfield Peak

Length: 3.4 miles (5.5 km)

Time: 2 to 3 hours

Trailhead Location: East end of Rim Village. Walk behind Crater Lake Lodge along paved promenade.

Description: Rocky climb to a high peak. Spectacular views along the way and at the top. Top section may be closed until mid-July due to snow.

 

Mount Scott

Length: 5 miles (8.1 km)

Time: 3 hours

Trailhead Location: East Rim Drive, 14 miles (22.5 km) east of Park Headquarters.

Description: Gradual ascent of the park’s highest peak. Best in morning, when the light is ideal for lake viewing. May be closed until mid-July due to snow.

 

Union Peak

Length: 11 miles (17.7 km)

Time: 5 to 6 hours

Trailhead Location: Highway 62 at the Pacific Crest Trailhead, 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the Crater Lake road Junction.

Description: Long forest walk followed by a very steep climb. Top section may be impassable until mid-July due to snow.

 

Cleetwood Cove

Length: 2.2 miles (3.5 km)

Time: 1.5 hours

Trailhead Location: North side of the lake, 11 miles (17.6 km) from Rim Village if traveling clockwise on Rim Drive.

Description: The only legal access to the shore of Crater Lake. Strenuous trail with a steep grade. The trail descends to a rocky shoreline at Cleetwood Cove.

 

On Wizard Island

 

Wizard Summit

Length: 2 miles (3.2 km)

Time: 1.5 hours

Trailhead Location: Wizard Island dock, accessible only via a boat tour from Cleetwood Cove.

Description: Rocky climb to the top of Wizard Island. A path leads around the 90-foot-deep (27-meter) crater at the summit.

 

Fumarole Bay

Length: 1.8 miles (2.9 km)

Time: 1 hour

Trailhead Location: Wizard Island dock, accessible only via a boat tour from Cleetwood Cove.

Description: Rocky trail along the shore of Wizard Island. Becomes hard to follow after reaching Fumarole Bay. The shallow, clear water is good for fishing and swimming.

 

 

Information sources:

Crater Lake Visitor Guide

Guide to National Parks of the United States

 

Official website:

http://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm

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