Classic bands produce several albums, resulting in a variety of music to enjoy. One hit wonders do not provide us with variety, but we still can appreciate the fun of the single offering. Crater Lake National Park is the one hit wonder of the park scene.
The hit is the memorable view of the fabulous blue lake waters. Basically all of the 183,000 acre Crater Lake National Park is dedicated to providing the view. Rim Drive is a 33 mile loop road surrounding the lake. You can stay in Rim Village. I would not work there.
Unfortunately, a major resurfacing project has half of this loop closed for most of the summer. The road closure did prevent us seeing a few of the major sights including the Pinnacles rock formation and Lost Ship Island. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in United States with its deepest measurement of 1,943 feet (592 meters). At 6 miles wide at its greatest, it covers 20 square miles.
There are no known outlets or streams flowing into it, yet its water is some of the purest in a large body of water. The crater was filled solely by precipitation. This is an area that does receive great amounts of snow.
Even in mid July large drifts are visible. Three different times the park has received 37 inches (96 cm) of snow in one day. The highest yearly total was 903 inches (75 feet/2,290 cm).
The lake was formed when an immense 12,000 foot volcanic mountain (Mount Mazama) erupted almost 8,000 years ago. This eruption was 150 times greater than that of Mount Saint Helens. Having expelled its contents, the now hollow volcano collapsed, creating an immense bowl like depression in the remnants of the volcano’s crater.
This is an isolated lake but the beautiful sapphire blue waters are mesmerizing. There is one path that will allow you to hike down to the level of the water, Cleetwood Cove trail. It is 1 1/4 miles down to the lake, dropping about 800 feet in elevation.
The water is really clear and just as blue up close. It is very cold, but a few people where joining the Polar Bear club by stripping down and plunging in.
A group of young students were making a film that featured a hunky guy jumping in and swimming. He had a very difficult time speaking due to the shivers and shakes.
If you want to see more shoreline, tickets are available ($40) for a boat tour around the lake. I was surprised we saw several lizards in this cold, high altitude spot.
The lake had no native fish, but was stocked extensively through the 1950’s. Visitors are allowed to fish and no fishing license is required.
As expected, the hike up was a lot more work than the hike down. A stop for a breather did allow some great photos and another look out over the heavenly blue waters. Another stop provided a good place for picnic and more of that great view.
Entrance to this Park (which is surprisingly the only National Park in Oregon) costs $15. We received admittance for free via our well loved and used Inter Agency pass. In order to make a full day of it, we additionally visited Newberry National Volcanic Monument, a couple hours north of Crater Lake.
The Newberry Monument is 50,000 acres set aside inside the Deschutes National Forest dedicated to preserving interesting volcanic features. We loved the Big Obsidian Flow. This is a 700 acre, 150 foot deep deposit of obsidian and pumice deposited only 1,400 years ago.
Obsidian and pumice have the same composition, what differs is if air was introduced while drying. It makes an interesting hike where you see these rocks interspersed in great quantities. Obsidian was a prized resource used to make tools such as spear and arrow heads and while rare and highly prized around most of the Americas, it is certainly in great supply here.
The Newberry Monument has several other attractions including Lava River Cave, a lava tube that tourists are allowed to explore (we did not), Lava Butte which is a 500 foot cinder cone, Lava Cast Forest, and two lakes, Paulina and East Lake. Paulina Lake is picturesque and is circled by a trail for a peaceful hike.
Better views are available from the 8,000 foot summit of Paulina Peak where you can overlook the lakes, Big Obsidian Flow, and the surrounding mountains. It is a steep drive but the view is worth every hairpin and nervous encounter with a car coming the other direction on the narrow road.
Crater Lake Park is a one hit wonder, but a fun stop if you are passing in the area. Include Newberry National Volcanic Monument to make it a full interesting day. When visiting the Oregon coast or the other locales in Central Washington, we recommend you make a detour to include these sights. What “One Hit Wonder” sights have you visited?