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Visit Crater Lake, Oregon
If you're a lake enthusiast who loves to hike, camp, fish, take pictures, or just appreciate nature, put Crater Lake at the top of your must-visit list. It's well worth the trip. Crater Lake is one of the nation's most unique bodies of water. Located in Oregon's Crater Lake National Park, it's approximately 60 miles NW of Klamath Falls, the county seat, and 80 miles NE of Medford.
According to legends of the Klamath Native American tribe, Crater Lake was created during a war between heaven (the sky god Skell) and earth (the god of the underworld, Llao). During the fight, Mount Mazama was destroyed and the lake was formed.
The geological account of Crater Lake's formation is only slightly less dramatic. Over a period of 400,000 years, Mount Mazama grew into a giant volcano, a major link in the chain of mountains forming Cascade Range. But it took only one cataclysmic event—an enormous, violent eruption—to fell mighty Mazama and create a gaping cauldron or caldera where it once stood. This cauldron cooled, and over time it filled with rain and snow to become Crater Lake.
Crater Lake isn't known for any monsters lurking in its depths, but it does have an Old Man of the Lake. More than 100 years ago, the Old Man was a full-sized tree. Now, he's a rather well-preserved stump that bobs in the frigid waters. Crater Lake also contains two small islands, Merriam Cone and Wizard Island. Other than that, the lake is a placid blue gem notable for its depth, its color and its clarity. At 592 meters (1,943 feet) it's the deepest lake located completely in the U.S. and one of the ten deepest lakes in the world. Its waters are a dazzling sky blue. No wonder its earliest names were Deep Blue Lake, Blue Lake, and Lake Majesty. Its setting is awe-inspiring, too: sheer cliffs that soar 2,000 feet into the air.
In large part because of its isolation (it lacks both inlets and tributaries) the lake's waters are extremely clean. And Crater Lake National Park does its best to keep them that way. Private boats are not allowed. And fishers, who may use artificial baits and lures only, cannot clean their catches on the premises. Other than that, the fishing at Crater Lake is virtually restriction free.
No fishing license is required, and you may catch as many as you like year round (weather permitting). Choose a spot on a dock, or settle in along the rocky shoreline of Cleetwood Cove, located on the lake's north side.
Although Crater Lake has no indigenous fish, it was stocked in the late 19th through the early 20th centuries with six species, two of which formed self-sustaining populations. Kokanee salmon, a dwarf variety of sockeye salmon, are most abundant, but you can also fish rainbow trout.
Crater Lake National Park has two campgrounds. The largest, Mazama, offers 200 sites from mid-June through mid-September. Amenities include fire rings, picnic tables, running water, and flush toilets. Lost Creek Campground has 16 tent sites available from mid-July through early October. Lost Creek's sites accommodate up to eight people and two vehicles. Amenities include running water, toilets, bear lockers, picnic tables, and fire rings. Interested in a day trip to Crater Lake? From Thanksgiving through May 1, visitors can arrange free ranger-led snowshoe walks along the lake.
No matter when you visit Crater Lake or how long you stay, you're sure to be amazed by its grandeur, beauty, breath-taking color.