Crater Lake, Oregon
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
When I found out I would be spending my year abroad at the University of Oregon, visiting Crater Lake was right at the very top of my ‘To Do’ list. I had seen pictures online of the dazzingly blue lake, in the middle of a collapsed volcano, and vowed to visit.
My chance came around within the first month of arriving in Oregon. I had opted to take a geology class – taking advantage of the opportunity to study a wider variety of subjects than is possible in England. The class was called ‘Geology of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest’, and one Saturday in October we took a field trip!
Crater Lake is in southern Oregon, just over two hours drive away from Eugene and we drove through some beautiful scenery on the way. We even stopped at Salt Creek Falls for a quick break and a view over the waterfall and surrounding wilderness. It really takes your breath away, doesn’t it?
Arriving into Crater Lake National Park, I was again blown away by my surroundings. Nothing even comes close to this level of awesome nature in England, and certainly not in the flats of Norfolk where my university back home was.
At 1,943 feet (592m), Crater Lake is the deepest in the United States, and one of the deepest in the world. The caldera was created during a massive volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama, between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago. Lava eruptions created Wizard Island, and other smaller volcanic features in and around the lake. Eventually the caldera cooled, allowing rain and snow to accumulate and eventually form the lake we see today. The lake is 5 by 6 miles across.
The Klamath tribe of Native Americans consider the lake to be a sacred site, and it is not hard to see why.
All the pictures in today’s post have been edited on VSCOcam, but I don’t want you to think I’m trying to trick you into thinking this lake is that blue, or that beautiful. So here is a completely unedited picture of my looking out over the lake:
There’s plenty more to explore inside the National Park, but as this was a field trip we were just taken to places of geological importance that linked into our class work. How about this? Pinnacle Valley, with its needle-like rock formations.
You can visit Crater Lake year round, but roads to the park, and park access may be blocked during the snowy season so make sure you check the park websites and ranger reports if you are planning a visit. We visited at the start of October and one entrance to the park was shut due to snow, so be sure to plan ahead!