With its awe-inspiring deep blue water reflecting the clouds in the sky or lack thereof, jagged cliffs lining the lake, peaks in every direction, Crater Lake in Oregon is just worthy of being nicknamed “lake majesty.” The park where the lake is located in 249 square miles of evergreen trees, fields, and water. Every year, the snowfall is more than 44 feet, and the cliffs and trees are often covered white with snow. The natural beauty and the wonders are born out of volcanic eruptions and later weaker activity in the park.
Crater Lake was referred to as the seventh-deepest lake in the world. But the previous listing excluded depths of subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica is approximately 3 000 feet, which resides under nearly 13,000 feet of ice, and the recent report of a 2,740-foot maximum depth for Lake O’Higgins/San Martin, located on the border of Chile and Argentina. However, its average depth, which is 1,148 feet (350 m), makes the lake the deepest in the Western Hemisphere and the third deepest in the world. This volcanic lake’s depth was caused by the nearly symmetrical 4,000-foot-deep (1,200 m) caldera. It was formed after a violent climactic
eruption and collapse of Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago and affected by the relatively moist climate typical of the Cascade Range crest.
Flora and fauna
The Crater Lake National Park has over 180,000-plus heavily forested acres high in the Cascade Mountains and diverse wildlife and plants. Exploring the park will let you see amphibians, bears, coyotes, and various bird species and insects. The lakes and streams in the park are habitats for some endangered species like bull trout and the Mazama newt, which can only be found in the Crater Lake.
The park is a sanctuary for native forest and meadow communities. There are layers of aquatic moss in the lake. There are mixed conifer forests dominated by ponderosa pine in the south ascending to the mountain, and at the rim are hemlock, and whitebark forest is formed. Animals
in the park, nearly all of which are protected wilderness—includes deer, bears, eagles, hawks, owls, and grouse. In summer, there are abundant songbirds and insectivorous birds at the park.
From the Klamath Indians to the early explorers and today’s scientific studies, the lake has a long and rich history. The collapse of Mount Mazama was witnessed by the local Native Americans and made the even alive in their legends. One legend of the Klamath people is closely parallel to the geological story in today’s scientific research. According to the legend, there are two chiefs, Llao of the Below World, and Skell of the Above World, pitted in a battle that destroyed Mt. Mazama, Llao’s home.
Fast forward, during the time of some explorers, John Wesley Hillman was the first non-native American to report sighting the lake he named the “Deep Blue Lake” in 1853. The lake was then renamed three times: Blue Lake, Lake Majesty, and finally, Crater Lake.
Activities at the Park
The trail first opened and made available in the summer of 1960. Starting at the north side of the lake about 4.5 mi east of North Junction along East Rim Drive, the trail is 1.1 miles long with that has a strenuous route on the return trip. It is the only one that accesses the shoreline of the lake. It descends 656 feet from the Cleetwood Cove parking lot. Those mobility-impaired visitors are not allowed due to steep trail.
The trail is 1.3 km long and with 420-feet elevation. The trail begins from the Watchman Overlook parking lot, about 3.8 mi northwest of Rim Village. This steady uphill trail on an isolated mountain on the crater’s west rim has several switchbacks. It provides extensive views of Crater Lake and Wizard Island. Several nearby landmarks are visible from the summit, including Mount McLoughlin, Mount Thielsen, Union Peak, Mount Scott, and the Klamath Basin. The trail ends next to a historic fire lookout tower built-in 1932.
The trail is ¾ mile hike with an elevation of 250 feet. The trail starts from the Lightning Spring picnic area and circles around several meadows up to the Lightning Spring creek. The trail is best known for the frequent sights of grazing deer.
You can indulge in fishing at the lake because unlicensed fishing is allowed without any limitation of fish size, species, or number. The first fish species were introduced beginning in 1888 until all fish stocking ended in 1941. The lake has no indigenous fish. There are natural reproduction of Kokanee salmon (Oncorhynchusnerka) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchusmykiss), now thriving at the lake.
There are several water bodies in the Park, but most of the streams and ponds are often very inaccessible and managed as wilderness areas. The only safe and legal access to the edge of the Crater Lake is through Cleetwood Cove.