Lewis and Clark may have been the first non-aboriginal explorers to be awestruck by Crater Lake in Oregon. But they were far from the last. Offering biking, boating, horseback riding and just sheer breathtaking scenery to absorb, it is one of America’s most outstanding national parks.
Every year half a million visitors experience something like what those intrepid early explorers reported back to President Jefferson. The pure blue lake ringed by 2000-foot high mountains looks like a painting. But visitors will find the romance becoming real when they view it from one of the many lookouts along Rim Drive.
At over 1,940 feet, it’s the deepest lake in the United States. Just knowing that adds to the heart-pounding experience. Learn from signs along the way that it was formed over 7,700 years ago when nearby Mount Mazama erupted. Intellectual appreciation combines with sheer sensory excitement to make for an unforgettable visit here.
Around the 33-mile drive there are over 20 spots that offer unparalleled scenic views. Kerr Notch provides an unmatched view of Phantom Rock. From Sun Notch it’s easy to take in the sight of Wizard Island.
From a dozen different spots it’s possible to take a hike that can’t be duplicated anywhere else. Trailheads lead to Mount Scott on the east side of the lake. Crater Peak on the south side is easily accessible from Rim Drive. On the north side, Cleetwood Cove Trail leads to the lake itself. Walk quietly and you’ll often come across deer feeding.
From Cleetwood Cove it’s also possible to visit the volcano on Wizard Island. Climb the 800-foot trail and you can see inside the 90-foot opening to the cinder cone. For those who might like to do a little fishing, there’s a trail that leads to Fumarole Bay. Initially hand-stocked, it offers descendant rainbow trout and kokanee salmon galore. No license required and no limit on catches.
For those who want the ultimate in hiking pleasure, check out the nearly 9,000-foot high Mount Scott. Long, steep and full of winding turns, it offers the biggest hiking challenge. For those who persist, the rewards are views of Mount Jefferson and Mount Shasta all the way over in California, not to mention some of the best views of the lake far below.
For those who would prefer to visit in winter there are equally exciting things to see and do at Crater Lake. With an average of over 500 inches per year, you’ll need snowshoes for many hikes. But a guided tour will show you some of the most amazing sights anywhere.
For the truly hardy, there’s an option that includes up to 33-miles of cross-country skiing around the lake. A shorter trip from Crater Lake Lodge offers a five mile round-trip that provides outstanding views of Overlook Trail.
Be an explorer yourself and imagine what life was like when that famous pair first walked through the area. Looking at Crater Lake and the surrounding mountains, virtually unchanged since, that’s actually very easy.