Crater Lake, located in Oregon, is the deepest lake in the nation. This beautiful lake has sapphire-colored, clear blue water, dramatic cliffs and the scenic Wizard Island.
Crater Lake Formation
Our visit was brief, beginning with a stop at the visitor center where we got a refresher on the origin and details of the 1,932-foot deep, five-mile diameter body of water. Its formation goes back almost 450,000 years ago through 400,000 years of volcanic eruptions required to form for 12,000-foot Mount Mazama, the mountain in whose crater the lake lies. These eruptions climaxed in a massive blowout a mere 7,000 years ago, when an eruption that was 100 times more powerful than that of Mt. St. Helens, expelled massive quantities of lava that left a huge empty chamber. Subsequent smaller eruptions added enough weight over the chamber to cause a collapse. It is in this caldera that several millennia of rain and snow (an average of about 42 feet per year) filled the lake. Subsequent underwater eruptions then formed Wizard Island inside the crater. Erosion then honed the cliffs, some of which rise up to 2,000 feet above the lake’s surface.
That, of course, is the current Crater Lake. Rain and snow continue to drop more water into the lake than evaporation removes, water and wind continue to erode the cliffs and of course, the Cascade Range is still very geographically active. Another major eruption or earthquake could dramatically alter the crater and its lake or even breech the underground dike that holds the water in the caldera. Only time will tell how the crater fares over the next several millennia.
A Short Hike Enhances the Beauty
We confined our lake visit to the western side of the rim. We did not take the road or trails down to the lake’s surface where visitors can take one of the sightseeing boats that ply the lake. Our rim-side views of the lake were from three view points (Rim Village, North Junction and Watchman Overlooks) and from the fire view tower atop the 8,013-foot Watchman Peak. The short, well-graded, 1.6-mile round-trip trail climbs 420 feet to provide 360-degree views, including the most dramatic—directly over Wizard Island to the lake’s eastern shore.
Absolutely beautiful and well worth a stop if you are in the area.