Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
July 17, 2020
Over two days in July 2020 I drove 15 hours from Seattle, Washington to Yosemite National Park, California to join up with Andrew Skurka Adventures for a Yosemite Five Day Adventure backpacking trip. It just so happened that the halfway point on my drive was, well, another National Park! It was hard to imagine my luck, but there was Crater Lake National Park, Oregon as my perfect overnight stopping point. This was my first time visiting Crater Lake and I spent several hours hitting the highlights on the western half of the lake - Llao Rock, Watchman Overlook, Watchman Peak, and the Rim Village Visitor Center - before turning in to my campsite after a long day's drive.
Crater Lake was formed by a massive volcanic eruption around 7,500 to 8,000 years ago. What you see now is the remaining crater left behind when the mountain peak collapsed in the eruption. As rain and snow filled in the crater, Crater Lake has become the the deepest lake in the United States (2,148 feet). It is famously known for its water clarity and dark blue color due to the purity of the rain and snowmelt that feeds the lake (no other outside water source fills the lake).
In person Crater Lake is spectacular. It was so perfectly clear and calm blue that it almost looked fake! I hate to say it that way, but the lake looked as if it had been enhanced with digital effects for a movie. The day I visited there was a perfectly clear, blue sky as well. The blue of the lake almost faded into the blue of the sky behind and played tricks with my mind. Where does the lake end and the horizon begin? Several times during the visit I rubbed my eyes and took my sunglasses on and off trying to believe what I saw. Crater Lake is a must stop if you are even remotely in the area. I managed to cover many of the great views on the western half of the lake within several hours. If you would like to drive around the entirety of the lake or spend more time hiking, a day or two maximum would still be enough. I have realized that when they call things National Parks there is a reason why...and Crater Lake does not disappoint.
Rim Village Visitor Center