Crater Lake National Park was our first stop in Oregon. The lake was created by the eruption and collapse of an ancient volcano, Mount Mazama, 7700 years ago. This formed the 6-mile wide caldera where the lake sits in today. Wizard Island, which resembles a sorcerer’s hat, rose out of the center of Crater Lake from the eruptions that followed.
Crater Lake is known to be the deepest lake in the U.S. at more than 1900 ft deep and is the seventh deepest in the world. It has no rivers and streams flowing into it and is considered the cleanest and clearest large body in the world. When we arrived at the park around 9, the lake was completely still and you could see perfect reflections. As the day progressed, it became windier and made me wish I took every opportunity to photograph the lake much earlier. I’m new to photographing nature, so it’s probably a rookie error.
We happened to get really lucky with the weather. One of the park rangers told us that it’s unprecedented to have this nice of weather with clear skies and no wind when we visited. Most of the winter and early spring, the lake is not even visible through the clouds. It took us 3.5 hours going up and around the west side of the lake. There was a lookout every quarter to half mile, and we stopped at them all! A lot of them had similar views, so if there is a crowd at one, you can move onto the next one.
They got 44 ft of snow this past year, and they were still plowing and cleaning up.
I came prepared in flip flops, of course.
The next couple photos are of Union Peak with Mount McLoughlin in the background. M is for Mountain.
We went around 1/3 of the lake, since the east side was closed off still, and then headed towards our next destination.
Tips for visiting Crater Lake National Park Oregon:
- The park is open 24/7 all year round although some roads and trails may be closed due to snow. The best time to visit is June-October. They have fewer people in the fall. The north entrance and rim drive close from November through May. You can call 541-594-3100 for current road conditions.
- Weather and Visibility: Check webcams for weather to see if the lake is visible before your visit.
- Photography: Take a wide angle lens, maybe even a fish-eye, unless you want to stitch your photos together. My 35 mm at full frame could capture just over half the lake. I had no idea the lake was that massive. I did take some panoramas with my iphone though.
- GPS: Google Maps doesn’t have an issue mapping there, but the GPS in our car has issues locating parks without an actual address. We mapped to the intersection of Crater Lake Hwy and W Diamond Lake Hwy. From that point, there were signs leading you into the park.
- Fishing: Late June to Sept, there are boat tours to wizard island. They have smaller emerald pools for fishing rainbow trout. There is no limit to how much you can fish. Need own ice pack.
- Go the visitor center during winter (Jan – April) and there are free snow shoe guided hikes. Bring all own gear to keep warm.
We heard that there were pikas here, which happen to look nothing like pikachu. We were bummed that we didn’t get to see any. If you visit, let us know if you find one!
What’s your favorite place to visit in Oregon?