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Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

As an Oregon resident of 55 years, I still continue to be amazed at the beautiful sights in this state.

One of Oregon's most visited tourist destinations is the stunningly beautiful Crater Lake National Park.

One of Oregon's most visited tourist destinations is the stunningly beautiful Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake Was Created by Volcanic Eruption

Over 7,700 years ago, a violent eruption from within Mount Mazama caused the breakdown of its towering peak. Now, scientists are stunned by the purity of the water inside this volcanic formation within the Cascade Mountain range of Oregon.

With a depth of 1,943 feet (the deepest lake in the United States), Crater Lake is home to water that is an intense blue. The coloration of the water indicates just how clear and deep it is. Scientists claim Crater Lake is the cleanest and clearest body of water in the world.

Snow-fed crater lake was created over seven thousand years ago.

Snow-fed crater lake was created over seven thousand years ago.

Home to Wizard Island and the Pirate Ship

Though the volcano is now dormant, nature provided us with breathtaking beauty in the form of Crater Lake and its two islands. These rocky islands were the result of further volcanic activity after the initial collapse of Mt. Mazama. Wizard Island appeared first, followed by the Pirate Ship. These are two unforgettable sights to behold when visiting Crater Lake.

The Pirate Ship is one island formed after the eruption of Mount Mazama.

The Pirate Ship is one island formed after the eruption of Mount Mazama.

Check Current Conditions Before Visiting Crater Lake National Park

Visitors have access to the park or at least certain portions of the park year-round and 24 hours a day. However, because of snowy, icy roads, some of the facilities, roads, and trails are closed to the public during the winter season. If you are planning a trip to Crater Lake, please take the time to visit the website to find out about the current conditions.

Every winter the snowfall requires the park rangers to close Rim Drive and the north entrance to cars. During this time, Rim Drive becomes a trail for skiing and snowshoeing. The northern entrance of the park turns into a snowmobile trail for visitors to enjoy the wintry wonderland. As soon as the first snowstorm of October hits or on November 1 (whatever may come first), the roads close to cars, trucks, and campers and opens to those enjoying the snow.

As the weather calms, the slow process of plowing roads to remove the season’s heavy snowfall begins. There are no set dates as to when the roads will open again to traffic. West Rim Drive and the north entrance may open as early as the middle of May or may take until the end of June before enough snow is removed to safely open roads.

Current condition check for Crater Lake is a must

Current condition check for Crater Lake is a must

Sleep Accommodations at Crater Lake National Park

Two motels are located in the park for easy access to accommodations while visiting Crater Lake National Park. Reservations can be made online for your stay or by giving them a call at 888-774-2728.

At the top of the rim is the Crater Lake Lodge. The lodge offers 71 rooms and amazing views as it overlooks the lake from Rim Village. The Crater Lake Lodge is open May 18 through October 14, with rooms priced at $205 per night and above. It is highly recommended that reservations are set in advance to avoid missing out on a room for the night.

Just seven miles south of Rim Village are the Cabins at Mazama Village motel. This motel offers 40 rooms and will cost $169 per night. The Cabins at Mazama Village are open May 25 through September 23 or possibly September 30, depending on conditions in the area.

Remember, all of the dates for openings and closures are reported for 2018 only. Oregon has warmer winters some years and because of that, less snow. Please refer to the current conditions report given by the National Park Service before planning your trip.

For those who wish to “rough it”, there are three camping suggestions in the Crater Lake National Park as well as the motels. Mazama Campground is situated just seven miles from Rim Village near Highway 62. The campground is open during the summer months. The available sites offer a picnic table, open fire pit and a bear-resistant food locker.

All of the sites are available to those who arrive first. In July, August and September three-fourths of the sites can be reserved either online or by calling 888-774-2728. The other sites are available to those who arrive at the park first.

A limited number of electric hookups are available. RV sites are accessible as well but are limited in number. To find out more about RV camping and sites, call the campground at 541-594-2255, extension 3610 or 3601. Check-in is between 12 and 9 p.m. Check out is by noon.

If you enjoy tent camping, Lost Creek Campground is a good option. It was temporarily closed for the season due to a fire in 2017, although it reopened. The tent-only grounds are located on the road to the Pinnacles Overlook, three miles from the rim of the lake. Each site has a picnic table, fire pit, and food locker.

For visitors who really enjoy roughing it, there is the extreme option of backcountry camping. Permits are free and only for the valid dates, locations, and party size specified. The permit may be obtained from the Park headquarters at least one day in advance. They are not issued over the phone. You may get a permit from the Canfield Ranger Station or the Steel Visitor Center. Permits are free, but you must have a park entrance pass for the length of your stay. For more information about backcountry camping in Crater Lake National Park, call 541-594-3060.

The Bottom of Crater Lake

In 1987, a group of scientists and biologists traveled to the lake’s bottom where they studied the biology, chemistry, hydrology and geology of the lake. Using instruments including a rover vehicle, they garnered information about life inside the volcanic lake. Their findings were reported in, “Studies of Hydrothermal Processes in Carter Lake, OR” by Collier, Dymond and McManus. The document can be downloaded here.

Have you ever been to Crater Lake National Park?

© 2018 Vicki Perry