Crater Lake draws visitors to its tranquil lake, but it has a violent volcanic past
Crater Lake is one of the world's rare places, a piercingly blue lake in the crater of a collapsed volcano. Sheltered within the wilderness...
Seattle Times Travel staff
If you go
Crater Lake National Park is about 120 miles south of Bend, Ore. The park's south entrance is open year-round.
Within the park is the historic, 71-room Crater Lake Lodge, plus cabins and a campground. They're run by concessionaire Xanterra, www.craterlakelodges.com or 888-774-2728.
Crater Lake National Park, www.nps.gov/crla or 541-594-3000.
Crater Lake is one of the world's rare places, a piercingly blue lake in the crater of a collapsed volcano.
Sheltered within the wilderness of Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon, this now-tranquil place has a spectacularly violent past. About 7,700 years ago, a cataclysmic eruption collapsed what was then a 12,000-foot volcano almost in half, spewing ash and pumice across western North America. The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 was mild in comparison.
Go enjoy Crater Lake's beauty in the off-season. In July and August, visitors' RVs and minivans circle the lake on the park's 33-mile Rim Drive. In June, before school's out, or in September after school's resumed, you'll find more solitude. Sometimes the only sounds are the wind whistling across the five-mile-wide lake and birdcalls echoing off the cliffs that plunge a thousand feet down to the water. The profound stillness can feel eerie, as if forces of nature are just slumbering deep below.
Crater Lake is deep; at 1,943 feet, it's the deepest in the United States. It's also one of the bluest anywhere, thanks to its great depth and the exceptional clarity of the water, which interacts with the light to absorb red, yellow and other colors of the spectrum but reflect back the blue.
Snowmelt replenishes the lake each year, and this cold spring the snowdrifts still tower above the few park roads that are open. The park's Rim Drive won't reopen until late June and Crater Lake Lodge, the almost 100-year-old lodge on the rim, reopens in late May. Even then, you'll be tromping through snow; the 7,000-foot-high Crater Lake rim averages more than 44 feet of snowfall each year.
Whenever you visit Crater Lake, find a park ranger. They take visitors on snowshoe tours in winter and give guided walks and talks at the lodge in summer. Relax on the porch and listen as the rangers bring Crater Lake's history and geology vividly to life.
Kristin Jackson: email@example.com or 206-464-2271
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