What is Crater Lake National Park?

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  • Written By: Steve R.
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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Located in southern Oregon 100 miles (about 160 km) from the Pacific Ocean, Crater Lake National Park is a United States National Park. Established in 1902, Crater Lake National Park is one of the oldest national parks in the country. The national park includes 183,224 acres (about 741.5 square km). Annually, the park attracts 500,000 visitors. The park is highlighted by scenic Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States.

The lake was created more than 7,000 years ago when the volcano Mount Mazma erupted. The 12,000-foot (about 3,660 m) volcano subsequently collapsed and then lava sealed the basin of the geological structure. The eruption left a volcano basin that over the centuries was eventually filled with 5 trillion gallons (about 19 trillion liters) of water from rainfall and melting snow. At its deepest point, Crater Lakes's depth is 1,943 feet (about 592 m). The fresh water lake is revered for its bright blue color. Since the water in the lake is so pure and contains no sediments, algae or pesticides, the water absorbs all of the colors of the spectrum except for blue.


Fish are not native to the lake. Between 1888 and 1942, the lake was stocked with more than 1.5 million fish. The only species of fish that survived were the rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. Visitors are allowed to fish at the lake using artificial bait, so no new species are introduced to the lake. To fish, a license is not needed and visitors may catch as many fish as possible.

Crater Lake National Park offers more than 90 miles (about 145 km) of hiking trails. Many of the trails can be hiked within a day. Trails are divided into four categories: easy, moderate, difficult, and strenuous. The highest peak is Mount Scott, which stands at 8,929 feet (about 2,722 m). On a clear day, hikers may enjoy a view that extends more than 100 miles (about 160 km) and allows visitors to see the entire lake.

Scenery of Crater Lake National Park can be enjoyed along Rim Drive, which extends 33 miles (about 53 km) around the lake and offers various viewpoints of the park. Along the scenic route, boat tours and picnic areas can be found. Rim Drive is open from July to October. Camping and biking are also allowed at the park.

Crater Lake National Park generally is buried in snow for eight months out of the year. Annual snowfall in the region is 533 inches (about 1,350 cm). Popular activities during the winter include skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.


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