Crater Lake, OR Katie Uhl

Crater Lake is located about 3 hours south of Eugene, Oregon, and is one of America's most beautiful National Parks. Crater Lake is roughly 6 miles wide and 1,943 feet deep, making it the deepest lake in the United States, and one of the deepest lakes in the world.

Mount Mazama & The formation of Crater Lake

Mount Mazama

Mount Mazama was a cluster of volcanoes that overlapped one another in the Cascade Mountain Range, specifically located in what is now Oregon, and eventually became crater lake! As some volcanoes in Mount Mazama erupted, Mount Scott, nearby Crater Lake, was created, as shown below.

Mount Scott

Once Mount Scott was formed, many volcanoes developed to the west, causing Mount Mazama to grow. Eventually, Mount Mazama cataclysmically erupted, spreading ash as far as modern central Canada.

The eruption of Mount Mazama is depicted in this painting by Paul Rockwood.

As the magma moved out of the volcanic chamber quickly, there was no support for the top of the mountain, causing it to collapse. The caldera began to fill with rain, snow, and runoff about 5,000 or 6,000 years ago. It took about 250 years for the caldera to fill to its modern day level. Now, the water level remains the same because the lake takes in runoff at the same rate that it evaporates. Take a look at the photo below of the varying depths of crater lake!

This graphic shows the eruption and collapse of Mount Mazama. The volcano erupts, leaving the upper magma chamber empty, and thus, causing the volcano to collapse. Eventually, the caldera fills up with water and becomes a lake--Crater Lake!
The varying depths of Crater Lake
Modern-day Crater Lake

Why visit Crater Lake?

Crater Lake is absolutely beautiful! The water is startlingly blue, and extremely deep. This makes Crater Lake a breathtaking geologic feature of the Northwestern region of the United States.

Clearly, there are many opportunities for outdoor fun at Crater Lake National Park. Try swimming in the cool waters, taking a peaceful boat ride around the lake, or hiking on one of the endless nearby trails. Visitors can also drive around the lake for dazzling views on Rim Drive, the 33-mile loop. With Crater Lake being open 24 hours a day, visitors can have fun any time they want. For only $15 a day, this is a pretty sweet deal!

Unique Features of Crater Lake

Phantom Ship Island, Wizard Island, and The Old Man of the Lake (from left to right).

Phantom Ship Island: This island rises roughly 160 feet above the surface of Crater Lake, and is named such because of its eerie ship-like shape. When fog appears on the lake, this geologic feature can seem even scarier. Boat ride tours can take visitors around Phantom Ship Island!

Wizard Island: This volcanic island rises 767 feet above the surface of Crater Lake, and is named such because of its Wizard hat-like shape. Visitors can take a boat ride to the island to hike, or just around the island on a tour. Sometimes, visitors claim to see ghostly campfires on top of the island at night.

The Old Man of the Lake: This feature is Crater Lake's most famous. A scientific phenomenon, this ancient hemlock tree has remained floating upright in Crater Lake's waters for over 100 years! Because the temperature of the lake is usually considered chilly, the tree has not decayed. It extends 30 feet below the surface, and 4 feet above. Boat ride tours are available to visitors to view this phenomenon, as well.

Crater Lake Social Media

Sources:

https://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm

https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/upload/2010-deepest-lakes-sb.pdf

http://oe.oregonexplorer.info/craterlake/formation.html

https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/vsc/glossary/caldera.html

https://www.nationalparks.org/connect/blog/dive-deep-mysteries-crater-lake-national-park

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