Crater Lake National Park

The ancient mountain whose remains now form Crater Lake was known to the the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin Band of the Snake as Giiwas, or “sacred place.” It earned that name after the region`s Indigenous people witnessed a catastrophic volcanic explosion around 7700 years ago, an even that knit itself into their oral histories in such detail that Klamath mythology predicted geological discoveries that weren’t made until millennia later. It may be hard to picture now, but Mount Mazama was a roughly 12,000ft volcanic peak that was heavily glaciered and inactive for many thousands of years until it came back to life. When the top of the mountain blew, it scattered ash for hundreds of miles as flows of superheated pumice solidified into massive banks. These eruptions emptied the magma chambers at the heart of the volcano, and the summit cone collapsed to form the caldera. Sparse forests can still be seen growing in pumice and ash in the Pumice Desert, just north of Crater Lake along North Entrance Rd. Further afield, outside the park, beloved attractions like Umpqua Hot Springs hint at the region’s ongoing geologic activity. Over time, snowfall and rain have contributed to the lake’s water. The purity of the springs and the great depth of the lake (at 1,943 feet, it’s the deepest lake in the United States) combine to give it its famous hue. The gorgeous blue waters of Crater Lake reflect the surrounding peaks like a giant dark blue mirror, making for spectacular photos and breathtaking panoramas. Crater Lake National Park Highlights The park’s popular south entrance is open seven days a week and provides access to the park’s headquarters at Limu and Mazama Villages and the Steele Visitor Centre. In winter, you can only climb to the edge of the lake and go down the same path. Other roads are not plowed. The north entrance is open only from early June to late October depending on snow conditions. The Rim Drive Whatever else you do, most visitors drive the 33-mile Loop Rim Drive. This drive is open from approximately June to mid-October and offers over 30 viewpoints along the rim of Crater Lake. Seven miles of back roads lead to pinnacles, pumice and volcanic ash layers carved by erosion into he 100-foot towers (“hoodoos”). A paved sidewalk on the east leads to breathtaking views from the Cloudcap Overlook about 2000 feet above the lake. This trip takes about an hour if you don’t stop off (but you have to stop). Wizard Island Whether just viewing Wizard Island from the rim of Crater Lake or visiting it by boat, it is undoubtedly one of the best features of this national park. The island is actually the tip of a cinder cone, about 755 feet above the surface of the lake. On the island you can hang out and swim, hike to the top of the cone or circle the rim (4km round trip). The Fumarol Trail (1.4 miles round trip) circles the coast along cold lava formations. To take the boat shuttle here, you must book in advance. This is only available during summer. Tours One of his most popular activities on Crater Lake is the ranger-led informative 2-hour Crater Lake Trolley Tour. The old-fashioned wood-paneled vehicle makes 5-7 stops, saving you the hassle of driving and parking, and receiving a highly insightful narration along the way. A 2-hour boat tour is also available. It requires a fairly strenuous 30-40 minute hike down the crater to the dock (and then back). A 2-hour tour ($44 per person) includes a loop around the lake and access to Wizard Island for swimming and hiking ($55 per person). You can also take the shuttle to Wizard Island ($28 round trip). Make a reservation as it is popular. Hiking and Snowshoeing Crater Lake has more than 90 miles of hiking his trails, but some of the higher trails he hasn’t been completely cleared of snow until late July. The trails near Crater Lake Lodge and Mazama Village are the busiest, but with a little determination and a sweat you can get past the crowds and find spectacular trails and breathtaking views. Wildflowers bloom during the hiking season and later at higher elevations. In winter, only the southern approach road to Rim Village is cleared of snow to allow access to some cross-country ski trails. Bring your skis as there are no rentals in the park. Only experienced skiers should attempt the dangerous and avalanche-prone loops around Crater Lake. This takes him two to three days and requires a backcountry permit from the Parks Authority. In winter, snowshoes are provided for free ranger-led snowshoe hikes. Please make a reservation by phone in advance. Mt Scott This strenuous 5-mile loop hike offers stunning lake views from the top of Crate Lake National Park’s highest point, Mount Scott at 8929 feet. It starts easily through meadows and climbs steeper (and breathless) as you get higher. Due to the high elevation, snow can be expected at the top of the trail year-round. It is said that this is the only place in the park where you can capture the entire lake with a single camera. This is also a great place to spot birds such as grouse, clarks nutcrackers and gray jays. Garfield Tips From the eastern end of the Rim Village parking lot, this short but steep 3.4-mile trail ascends Garfield Peak at 8,054 feet and offers sweeping views of the lake, Klamath Basin, and the southern Cascade Range. In July, the slopes are covered with wildflowers. This is one of his most popular hikes on Crater Lake, but it’s worth going despite the crowds. Snow can be expected throughout the season at higher elevations. Be prepared for shortness of breath from altitude if you are not acclimatized. Watchman Lookout Tower For a steep but short 1.4-mile hike, hike to Watchman, his old 1932-built lookout on the other side of the lake. From here you have one of the best