Crater Lake National Park

Fact Box

Crater Lake National Park
Established in 1902
183,225 acres
Visitation (2010) 448,319

Crater Lake National Park, in southern Oregon, is a rare and breathtaking natural wonder. The lake was created almost 8,000 years ago when the collapse of the Mt. Mazama volcano formed a 6-mile-wide volcanic basin. Melted snowfall filled the basin with freshwater and Crater Lake was born.

At nearly 2,000 feet deep Crater Lake is the deepest body of freshwater in the United States and the ninth-deepest lake in the world. An impressive 20-mile ring of cliffs encloses the basin and adds to the magnificence of the lake. The area is also home to virgin old-growth forests, made up primarily of various conifers such as pine, hemlock, and fir, as well as several varieties of deciduous trees. Many of the meadows come alive with colorful wildflowers during the short summer season, roughly June through October, when the park is not covered in snow.

Because area snows averaging 44 feet per year affect road and facility closures--including whether visitors can get gasoline within 60 miles of the park--it helps to call in advance to understand weather conditions and prepare adequately if you plan to visit between September and June.

The park contains more than 90 miles of hiking trails, including part of the Pacific Crest Trail and two trails on Wizard Island, the larger of the lake's two islands, accessible by boat through park concessioners. Visitors can also take an auto tour of Rim Drive, the 33-mile road that circles the lake, for stunning views of the lake from every direction.

Crater Lake National Park, located in the Cascade Mountain Range, is a remarkable and beautiful site. It is well worth planning ahead to explore this remote area of the American Northwest.