Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake is Oregon’s only National Park—but what a park! At 1,943 feet deep, it’s the deepest lake in the United States, and this, along with the purity of the water, leads to the most extraordinary blue I’ve ever seen.

Crater Lake from the East Rim Drive
Pine pollen creates pretty swirls in July but eventually settles to the bottom.
View of Wizard Island from the mosquito-filled Pumice Castle Overlook

The window of opportunity to fully experience this wonder is quite small. The park receives an average of 500-550 inches of snow annually and the opening of the Rim Drive (33 miles) is completely dependent on when this snowpack finally starts to melt. This past season’s snowfall was a whopping 673 inches, and therefore the complete Rim Drive opened just days before my arrival, on July 24th.

Phantom Ship (the height of a 16-story building) from the Sun Notch trail

Many hiking trails and side roads were still closed due to snow. Here is the first part of the road to Cloudcap Overlook (a 1-mile spur that takes you to the highest overlook on the lake). Sadly, I could drive no further than this, as the snow soon overtook both lanes completely. However, as long as you can get around either side of the lake, I encourage you to do so. The snows return again in early fall.

Seriously, the lake really is that blue.

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