Parks & Gardens

Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park

Would you believe it if someone told you the deepest lake in the US is also one of the cleanest and ‘bluest’ on Earth? Well, you should! Crater Lake goes 1,943 feet (592 m) deep, and its primary palette is vivid blue. (Though the color varies depending on conditions.)

Of course, seeing is believing. So, from July to mid-September, put on your hiking boots and prepare for an adventure at Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park. Its main attraction is a huge volcanic basin that appeared as a result of Mount Mazama nearly entirely collapsing in an eruption 7,700 years ago.

Look It Up Before You Go

Plan your visit from July to September. This way, you’ll catch wildflowers in bloom and the greenery at its most vivid. Visitor centers have you covered if you want to take in magnificent views from the best observation points.

Mind you, the season affects the air quality. In winter, snow covers the area most of the time, and you may be unable to see the lake. In summer, wildfire smoke may hinder visibility and cause adverse health effects. The Rim Drive, safely circling the lake and offering the best vantage points, may also be less revealing if the conditions aren’t perfect.

Whenever you plan to go, be prepared for sudden weather changes and check the official data before heading out. Use the website or app to stay up-to-date on everything, including relevant alerts, opening dates and hours.

Wildflower Fantasy

If you’re after wildflowers, your number one destination should be the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail. Home for at least 200 species, it’s heaven for plant lovers. For instance, here and throughout the park, you’ll feast your eyes on such splashes of color and unique forms as

  • meadow lotuses,
  • irises,
  • monkeyflowers,
  • fireweeds,
  • violets,
  • phlox,
  • wild strawberries,
  • and larkspurs.

And there are other fascinating green dwellers—from mosses to trees—all around! For example, Douglas firs, cottonwoods, and Sierra lodgepole pines, which sometimes reach 100 feet (30 m), guard this tranquil corner of the US.

There’s More

Opportunities for fruitful leisure are boundless near Crater Lake. You can go camping, picnicking, bird-watching, swimming, fishing—you name it! Not to mention that seeing Crater Lake is a bucket list–worthy experience in itself.

But if you’re still not convinced, here are the final three facts.

  • Three volcanoes are dormant beneath the lake’s surface.
  • Volcanic Wizard Island to the west of the basin shows off a smallish crater at the height of 6,940 feet (2,115 m). You can hike there!
  • A log called the Old Man is drifting through the clear waters, riddled with superstition. It’s 30 feet (9 m) long and over 450 years old.
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