Crater Lake National Park was created in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt. It is the fifth oldest park on the country and the only one in Oregon. The lake itself, deepest in the United States and ninth deepest in the world, is the center piece of this 183,224 acre park. The lake’s depth was first recorded in 1886 as being 1,996 feet deep. The reading was taken through use of a simple wooden sounding device that lowered a section of pipe attached to a piano wire. More recently—with fancy scientific equipment—the depth was recorded as 1,943 feet.
Crater Lake is an incredible geological feature. Its creation about 7,700 years ago was witnessed by the tribes that lived in the area. When Mt. Mazama erupted back then, the peak collapsed on itself and left the caldera that eventually became Crater Laker. There are no rivers or streams or even underground springs that feed the caldera. Instead, it took centuries for the lake to fill with snow and rain—and it has stayed filled with nearly pure water ever since. Today, it contains 4.6 trillion gallons.
The water’s purity is what gives Crater Lake its incredible blue color. The water is so pure that when the sunlight hits it, all colors of the spectrum are absorbed except blue which bounces back to the observer. On cloudy days, especially when smoke and haze clutter up the air, the color is less than spectacular, as I saw when I visited last year.
My trip this year was spectacular. A friend and I drove the 33-mile Rim Drive, stopping to enjoy the views at various look-outs both to the lake and away from it. Medford, where we started that morning, was predicted to be sunny and in the 70s. Throughout the day, the skies grew a bit cloudy and the weather turned a bit gray and cold. For a short time, there was even some hail and snow! The wildflowers were incredible, especially since one of the rangers explained that the blooms rarely lasted more than a week.
Views along the Road
Looking away from the Lake
Views of the Lake
Some Trees & A Bit of Snow
At one point, a bit of a drizzle turned into some hail!
A little later, some snow flurries erupted as well, for just a few minutes.
The Lovely Wildflowers
It was a beautiful day!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In 1903, Joaquin Miller (1837-1913) was a part of the Steele Excursion that was exploring the new national park. Although more popular in England, he wrote enough about the area to be called “Poet of the Sierras.” Sunset magazine commissioned him to write about his observations and experiences at Crater Lake. In an article titled “Sea of Silence,” Miller offered this description:
“The lake? The Sea of Silence? . . . fancy a sea of sapphire set around by a compact circle of the great grizzly rock of Yosemite. . . , It lies two thousand feet under your feet, and as it reflects its walls so perfectly that you cannot tell the wall from the reflection of the intensely blue water, you have a continuous and unbroken circular wall of twenty-four miles to contemplate at a glance, all of which lies two thousand feet, and seems to lie four thousand feet, below! Yet so bright, yet so intensely blue is the lake that it seems at times, from some points of view, to lift right in your face.”