Friday, June 10, 2016

Oregon’s Only National Park



Although Oregon is a state full of natural beauty, it is home to only one national park, Crater Lake. With a maximum depth of 1,941’, it is the deepest lake in the United States, and the clearest due to the fact that it has no inlets or tributaries but gets its water strictly from rain and snow melt. Its depth and clarity contribute to the deep blue color of the water. It was formed by the eruption of Mt. Mazama over 7,000 years ago, which collapsed on itself and left a caldera that eventually filled with rain and snow and formed Crater Lake.

Our first view late Wednesday morning under cloudy skies.


When we visited previously in mid July of 2009 we were able to hike some trails and drive around the lake. This time in early June none of the trails are open yet and the West Rim Drive is the only part of the rim road open to cars due to snow. After our hot week in Ashland it was hard to believe there could still be that much snow at 7-8,000’, but they weren’t kidding.



The only choice for a “hike” was a five mile portion of the East Rim Drive that is open for foot and bicycle traffic. We met Jeanne at the nearby parking area and headed off. We missed her dog Riley joining us, as the sweet boy died from his seizure disorder a couple weeks ago. Very sad.


The forecast called for cloudy skies in the morning and partly cloudy skies in the afternoon. Since this was Jeanne’s first time here we hoped the sun would come out so she could see the spectacular blue color of the lake.

We walked 2.7 miles to the first overlook where we began to see some blue sky. It was in the upper 40s and breezy. No complaining about the heat here, and no mosquitoes.


This cute little golden mantle ground squirrel was working the overlook, begging from everyone who came by, even though nobody was eating.


You can see the line of pine pollen in the water.


With the sun starting to come out we decided to turn back at that point so we could drive down West Rim Road to Rim Village.


By the time we got there and wandered around the gift shop in the village the sky had cleared considerably and the lake was just gorgeous.


The small rustic rim visitor center is hidden in the trees and snow. We had to trudge through quite a bit of it to get there.



This Clark’s nutcracker was giving us a hard time. Don’t know if he was begging, too, or just warning us off.


On the way back to Diamond Lake we stopped at every overlook along the West Rim.







We even got to see some UFO-like lenticular clouds.


Crater Lake is definitely worth a visit. With its deep cobalt blue water it is truly the prettiest lake we’ve ever seen. If we come back it will be in the late summer to do some hiking on the 100 miles of trails after the snow has melted.


  1. We have been through that area several time and it has always been in April when there is way too much snow to get up there. One of these days we will make it!

  2. I've only been there during summer so fun to see the snow. Oregon does have national monuments like where I worked at Oregon Caves.

  3. There's only one thing better than visiting Crater Lake and that is having the pleasure of living there. I spent 2.5 years working at Crater Lake NP--highlight of my government career. Glad you could visit.

  4. One of our favorite places in the US. Whenever we are asked which is most beautiful, we say: "Crater Lake."

  5. Oregon does have several National Monuments and Historic sites but since only only were deserving of one National Park, I glad it is a good one!

  6. Spectacular pics of this beautiful lake. It's on the list and I'm glad I got to see it through your lens even sooner! So sorry to hear about Riley :-( Those clouds are so cool.

  7. Sent some of that snow our way. 91 today in Santa Fe.

    1. For some reason I didn't think it ever got that hot in Santa Fe. Guess we've never been there in the summer.

  8. I follow Crater Lake on FB and all is did this winter and spring was snow. They would plow and say that a road was open then they would get feet of snow. They got so much snow right into spring. Our first visit was many years ago on a motorcycle trip right about this time of year. They had just opened the road. You can just imagine our reaction on a clear blue sky day as parked the bike and walked to the edge of the lake. It was such a shock to see that it truly was that blue in person. What an amazing place:) The snow is wonderful this time of year when everywhere else is so hot. Enjoy the cool:)

  9. Gorgeous! I just love the deep blue of the water. So glad you were able to do at least one trail. We were in the area early June and no roads or trails were open that year. We called and asked if we stuck around a few days would the road at least be open. Our answer....No chance. Bad timing on our part.

  10. On a dare, I skinny dipped in Crater Lake when I was 17 years old... had to swim out 100 yards and back. Coldest water ever, even in July.
    Box Canyon

  11. I've never been there at the right time or with the right person to do any hiking. Some day that will are right, it is gorgeous!

  12. That's about how it looked last year when I was there in the beginning of May.

  13. Gorgeous photos of Crater Lake! That blue really is breathtaking. Love hiking there, but as you said, it has to be July or later because the snow lasts forever! It's a fun place to snowshoe, too, if you're there before May. The rangers offer guided snowshoe hikes.

  14. Really fabulous pictures of a place that's been on my list forever. I didn't realize so much snow in June. Really nice respite from the heat though. Wish we had something at 7,000 or 8,000 feet in Virginia to get us away from the 94 degrees today. Sorry you didn't get to hike but thanks for the info on when to come to hike. Nice shot of the Clark's nuthatch too. The pollen line in the water made my eyes want to itch.

  15. It is amazing how much snow is still on the ground at Crater Lake. The color of the lake is just mesmerizing and you captured some great photos.

  16. Beautiful photos of a truly special place.

  17. Nice photo's. Love the crystal contrast between the blue water and white snow although it reminds me to visit a bit later in the season.