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There is No Greater Lake than Crater Lake

By Tyler Dungannon
Crater Lake is like no place on earth! Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and is famous for its pure water and massive surrounding cliff walls. This beautiful National Park is the result of the violent eruption of Mt. Mazama more than 7,700 years ago. Large amounts of molten rock were expelled from the summit, forming a caldera or a large volcanic depression. Several centuries of snowfall and run-off produced a lake just under 2,000 feet deep and arguably one of Oregon’s most attractive destinations.

Crater Lake, Oregon, Enjoy the View, Jason Haley, Destinations page
Rocking chair views from the lodge. Relax and enjoy the view after a day of hiking.

Crater Lake is nestled atop the crest of the Cascade Mountains in southern Oregon. It’s located about 100 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, and it’s about 85 miles from Medford and 65 miles from Klamath Falls.

Crater Lake, Oregon, Jason Haley, Destinations page
If you’re looking for a new fishing hot spot, try fishing in a volcano!

Crater Lake offers unique fishing opportunities. However, uses of organic bait are prohibited. This includes: Powerbait, live or dead fish, fish eggs and roe. Private Boats or flotation devices are not allowed on the lake.  No Fishing license is required within the boundaries of Crater Lake National Park. Also, there are no restrictions on the size, number, or species caught in the lake. Cleaning fish in Crater Lake is prohibited. Although the lake is open to fishing year-round, May through early November are the only months that permit safe access due to seasonal limitations. The treacherously steep caldera walls limit fishing access to the area near the dock and Wizard Island.

Wizard Island offers recreational opportunities to hikers and anglers. After the eruption of Mt. Mazama, several smaller eruptions occurred over the next few centuries forming cinder cones on the floor of the caldera. The largest cinder cone is known today as Wizard Island. Named for its resemblance to sorcerer’s hat, Wizard Island is the only cinder cone large enough to rise above the current lake level. Access to the island is only available by way of the park’s boat tours during the summer. Fishing is permitted from Wizard Island as well. There are two hiking trails on the island that offer a great opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to explore the unique island. Another island rising above the surface of the water is known as Phantom Ship. This small rock formation derives its name from its resemblance to a ghost ship on the water. The rock formation looks especially eerie in low light or when it is in amongst the mist on the lake.

Crater Lake, Oregon, Wizard Island, Jason Haley, Destinations page
Sky-blue water of Crater Lake draws visitors from around the world.

Crater Lake’s water clarity is among the best on the planet. Crater Lake lacks even a single inlet or tributary, which is a key reason why the lake has such outstanding water quality. The water is so intensely blue it looks like ink.

Founded in 1902, Crater Lake National Park contains 183,224 acres and is the only national park in the state of Oregon. In the summer, the climate is mild and dry, but come winter, the cold climate permits immense snowfall with an average of almost 500 inches per year.

Crater Lake Lodge offers 71 guest rooms. Each room provides comfort and privacy in the heart of the park. If you’d like to camp in the park, 214 campsites are available during accessible months. Located 7 miles from the rim of Crater Lake, Mazama Village Campground offers amenities such as showers, a gas station, a camper store and a restaurant.  
Crater Lake, Oregon, Crater Lake Lodge, Jason Haley, Destinations page
Crater Lake endures nine months of winter.

The Cleetwood Cove trail is the only access to the water’s edge. This trail presents a strenuous climb and gains approximately 700 feet of elevation. This 2.2-mile round-trip trail is the gateway to the lake’s recreational opportunities.

Crater Lake, Oregon, hikers, Jason Haley, destination page
Crater Lake offers hiking aplenty, from tougher, steeper stuff to easy walks for all ages.

The Mt. Scott trail is most strenuous climb in the park. This trail is five miles round trip and climbs 1,500 feet of elevation to the highest peak in Crater Lake National Park. After reaching the summit, rewards include outstanding views of the surroundings and viewing of a historic fire tower. During late July and early August, recreationists can view the peak of wildflower season.

Cross-country skiing is available during the winter with several marked trails for all skill levels. The Wizard Island Overlook trail is five miles round trip and presents opportunity for novice skiers. This trail provides outstanding views of the lake as it travels over gentle rolling hills. On the other hand, the Dutton Creek trail offers a test for advanced skiers. This 4.5-mile one-way trail is steep and possesses several sharp turns as it snakes down toward the Annie Springs Area.

Crater Lake, Oregon, Ranger-led snowshoe walks, destination page
Park Rangers have intimate knowledge of the park and its history and enjoy sharing with visitors.

Ranger-guided snowshoe walks are available from November through late April. These two-hour snowy adventures are an enjoyable way to explore the plants and animals present around the lake during the winter months. Snowshoes are provided free of charge for those that don’t have their own. This one-mile walk doesn’t require any previous snowshoeing experience and all ages are welcome. Snowshoe walks are free, and during the winter months, the park entrance fee is no longer in affect.

For those of all ages and ability levels, Crater Lake is enjoyable by all. Some may enjoy the beautiful lake from their vehicle and some may embark on a wild adventure with all the recreational opportunities available at Crater Lake National Park.

Welcome to Crater Lake!

Photos:Crater Lake National Park Service, Jason Haley

For additional information about outdoor recreation in this region, visit:

Jackson County

National Park Service


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