America's Best History ... Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park today
It's awesome what nature can do.  Even in an somewhat unusual circumstance which created the lake at this Oregon landscape located within the Cascade Mountain Range.  At Crater Lake National Park, it is a testiment to the beauty of nature in confluence with the effects of the implosion of earth after the top of Mount Mazama collapsed and was swallowed by the mountain some seven thousand seven hundreds years ago.  A small volcano formed at the same time, Wizard Island, which is inactive, and the bowl created by this 14,000 foot tall mount imploding, has created a lake six miles wide, twenty square miles large, with no outlets or streams flowing into the lake.  The bowl has slowly filled with water, fueled by the massive amounts of snowfall in the area, and is now one thousand nine hundred and forty-three feet deep.  Bounding the water, the surrounding edges of Mount Mazama rise up to two thousand feet above it.  The lake is the deepest in the United States and number seven among the world's lakes.

The legends about the lake are many, including Klamath Indian claims of healing powers.  When John Hillman, a prospector, found the lake in 1853, there were no fish there.  Hard for fish to find a lake when there is not way in or out.  (Walking fish had not been invented outside of Florida at the time.)  Trout were added in 1888.  Plenty of fish there now.  The photo above is the view of Crater Lake, originally published in 1896.  Six years later the lake and surrounding forest area were made into a national park during Theodore Roosevelt's presidency.

Today, over four hundred thousand visitors come to the Crater Lake National Park to enjoy the history, nature, and other tourist opportunities.  There are two visitor centers, boat tours, ranger guided walks and talks, camping sites, even shoeshoe walks in the winter, if five hundred and thirty-three inches of snowfall on average each year is to your liking.  With all the awesome beauty and unique history of this Oregon wonder, plus a fantastic National Park lodge, you'd actually think that the number would be higher.

Crater Lake Dates

7,700 years ago - Mount Mazama implodes
1853 - John Hillman finds lake
1888 - Trout added
1902 - National Park founded
1915 - Crater Lake lodge built

Things You Should Not Miss

1. View the film, Crater Lake: The Mirror of Heaven, located in the Steel Visitor Center, which runs every half-hour, and get an 18 minute introduction to the lake, its origins, and the park.

2. Take the time to drive around the rim.  Each corner of the round lake has its own wonderful sites to see and great photo opportunities.  Rim Drive is open only in the summer.

3.  Take in a ranger talk, presented during the summer season, whether they be from the back patio of the Crater Lake Lodge, the evening amphitheatre program at Mazama Campground, or other locations.

What is There Now

Two Visitor Centers
The Steel Visitor Center is open year round, with exhibits, a post office, a film, and exhibits.  Rim Visitor Center is open from June to September.

Hiking Trails
Hiking trails abound throughout the park, some are very rugged, some less so.  There is even an over two mile hike (round trip) to get to the boat tour below.  Probably a good idea to wear good walking shoes.

Crater Lake Boat Tours
From July to the middle of September, these tours of the crystal clear waters of Crater Lake give the visitor a chance to glimpse the park from the lake out.

National Forests and More
Outside the borders of Crater Lake National Park sit national forests and grasslands with a variety of outdoor adventures.  From Umpqua National Forest and Mount Thielsen Wilderness to the north; Winema National Forest to the east and south, and Rogue River National Forest to the east.  Many other state parks and wilderness areas are nearby as well, including the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and Crooked River National Grassland.  Indian lands and culture also abound in the area from the Klamath and Umpqua Tribes.

Lodging and Camping

Inside the park, there are two choices, the fantastic Crater Lake Lodge, with views of the lake from the veranda and some rooms.  This lodge was built in 1915, renovated 1995, and has 71 rooms ranging from $171 to $200.  The Mazama Motor Inn is located seven miles from the lake in a forest setting, with 40 rooms/cabins in the $118 range.  There is lodging outside the park in the larger towns of Medford, Ashland, Grant's Pass, Klamath Falls, and further locales such as Bend and Eugene.  These towns are fifty to one hundred miles from the park.  Some lodging lies in between the park and those locations.

There is a good amount of camping sites located inside the park and tons in the state and national forests ringing its borders.  Inside Crater Lake National Park, the Mazama Campground has 200 sites and is open typically from mid-June to early October.  Lost Creek Campground has 16 sites for tents and opens in mid-July.  Weather is a factor in these dates.

Crater Lake Links

Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake Lodges
Klamath County Tourism

Nearby Attractions

Deschutes & Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River Grasslands
Cascades Volcano Observatory
Klamath Tribes
Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe
Oregon Tourism

Crater Lake Then and Now

Crater Lake

Crater Lake Then

The Implosion of Mount Mazama- Try to imagine the size of the eruption that could cause a fourteen thousand foot mountain to collapse within its self.  That is what you the crater created and lake filled area of Crater Lake National Park has in its history.  For some of us who remember Mount St. Helen's eruption, imagine if the entire mountain had disappeared into a bowl beneath it.  It's not hard to imagine why the Indian tribes saw magic in the lake.  (Picture above)  Historic view of Crater Lake.  See how similar this picture is to the current picture below.

Crater Lake Now

Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park
- The beauty of the vistas at every turn, on the Rim Drive, or in the forested areas, are some of the most wonderful in the United States.  Enjoy them in the variety of ways you enjoy, from hiking, fishing, camping, historical talks, and nature walks.

Crater Lake Lodge - With its verandas overlooking the crystal clear waters of the lake, the lodge at Crater Lake National Park is a wonder all its own.

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Visitor Statistics

Crater Lake National Park
523,027 recreation visits

#110 Most Visited National Park Unit

Park Size

Crater Lake National Park
183,224 acres

Source: NPS.  Park Visitation 2013, rank among 369 park National Park units

Crater Lake National Park Entrance Fees

$10 car (7 days)
$ 5 Individual - Hike, Motorcycle/Bike (7 days)

Fees subject to change without notice

Crater Lake Weather
Most days are cooler than you'd think here, even in July, August, and September, with an average high temperature of 67 degrees.  The nights cool off rapidly.

With that much snow, you pretty much know what to expect.  Even by early spring there is fifteen feet of snow on the ground.  Typical winter highs are around 35 degrees with lows averaging 19 degrees.

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