It’s hard not to be sidetracked by amazing sights on a road trip. You want to keep stopping and explore. Well, Lex and I couldn’t resist stopping by the side of the road when we were driving to Crater Lake National Park.
We just had to walk into the forest and experience it…..
Upon closer look, we started walking and crunching on old dead leaves, branches, encountering dead tree trunks, fallen trees, and pine cones. I felt like we were walking on a huge vat of corn flakes. It was a reminder on how Mother Nature is pretty much a recycling operation: creating mulch for the next generation of trees and plants. Carefully crunching my way through the mulch, I finally encountered one of the massive Sequoias.
I went up to it and felt its rough trunk and the grooves in the bark. Looking up, I felt dizzy. It was so tall! The tree stretched to the sky and the branches splayed out to where you could see bits of the sky in between. It was a transcendent experience!
There were hardly any cars on the road so I couldn’t resist crossing it like a goofball.
Finally, we arrived at Crater Lake National Park! Whoa! There were a lot of cars and not a lot of parking left. We managed to squeeze into one space a bit far off from the visitor’s center but we didn’t care because we were here and we saw the magnificent deep blue color that the lake is famous for.
Prince Albert II of Monaco once visited Crater Lake and said “I’ve been to over 150 countries in the world and I’ve never seen anything like this.” Well, Lex and I haven’t been to that many or even half that many places, but we certainly agree with him.
Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 and is the only national park in Oregon. The “crater” is actually known as a caldera in which when the sides of a volcano collapses into the magma chamber during its eruption. The eruption that created the caldera occurred around 5700 BC when Mount Mazama became active. This explosive eruption produced more than 150 times the ash created by the May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
The incomparable deep blue lake has no other streams flowing in or out. It is filled by rain and snow. It is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world. There is fish in the lake but they are not native and were introduced during 1888 to 1941.
You can actually swim in the lake but I can’t swim and Lex said it was friggin’ cold. I wonder if the Prince ever tried it. Maybe next time!
The drive to Crater Lake National Park along the 62 East Highway is gorgeous, filled with lush green forest. We stopped our car along the side of the highway just to get out for a moment and walk among those giant trees. The smell of pine was intoxicatingly sweet, and it felt good to stretch our legs and feel the crunch of pine cones and needles under our feet.
Once you enter the park, the road up to Crater Lake can get a bit twisty at certain points, but once you reach the top, it’s pretty difficult not to let your jaw drop as you stare in amazement! We were lucky to visit on a clear day, which highlighted the spectacularly deep blue color in Crater Lake. It really is one of the most pristine lakes in the world, formed over 7,700 years ago from a volcano where rain and snow have created the deepest lake in the USA at 1,943 feet!
It was a busy Sunday afternoon and we were lucky to find a parking space. We ate a picnic lunch (leftover Italian food from a restaurant in Medford) and then took a walk around the rim. It is truly breathtaking to take in the immensity of this natural wonder.
The lake is so large it even has its own island in the middle of it, named Wizard Island. Being part of a former volcano, the elevation is over 6,000 feet high, so we could still see some piles of snow on the other side of the lake.
I went passed the trolley tours for a walk down a flight of stairs carved into the side of the hill toward an observation deck. From there, I could see the smaller, second island in Crater Lake that sometimes gets overlooked: Phantom Ship. It is named that because of its resemblance to a ghost ship. The natural rock formation pillar is unique and fascinating, much like Crater Lake itself!