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Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Did you know where the seventh deepest lake in the world can be found? That would be in the state of Oregon in the U.S.A. with Crater Lake, the deepest in the nation. Measuring 1,943 feet deep, and at 100 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, Crater Lake is located in Southern Oregon on the crest of the Cascade Mountains.

Crater Lake was not formed due to a meteor as many believed. The lake lies inside a caldera, or volcanic basin, on the once 12,000 foot Mount Mazama which collapsed 7,700 years ago after an eruption. In time large amounts of winter snow melt (up to 533 inches a year) filled up the caldera and formed a deep blue lake of fresh water. The lake has no inlets or outlets. Its water provided purely from nature is among the clearest found anywhere in the world.

The reason for the beautiful cobalt blue color of Crater Lake is the purity of its water molecules. Water molecules with no sediments, algae, pesticides or pollution, will absorb all the colors in the light spectrum, except the blues. Those wavelengths bounce back and give the lake water its gorgeous deep blue hue. It takes lots of pure water to get this effect, for there has to be enough water molecules to absorb all the other colors. Crater Lake has 4.6 trillion gallons of water, making this possible, and proving the point well.

Due to its deepness the lake rarely freezes over in the winter. A 95% freeze occurred in 1985 and the only known complete surface freeze was in 1949. This area in Southern Oregon rarely gets cold enough to freeze water of that depth. You would think that a lake that doesn’t freeze over would naturally be filled with native fish. That is not the concept with Crater Lake where six species of fish including Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon were introduced between 1888-1941. Because the lake was stocked with non native fish, means fishing is encouraged and there is no limit, but you must use artificial bait. Fishing is allowed on the shore and on Wizard Island.

Animals are rare to spot but are there at the lake, including Roosevelt Elk, Mule Deer, Black Bear, Coyote, Bobcat, Porcupine, Yellow-bellied Marmot, Pine Marten, Snowshoe Hare, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, and the Townsend Chipmunk. In the summer Bald Eagles have been seen, especially near Wizard Island.

In 1902, legislation was set forth to dedicate Crater Lake as a National Park to preserve and protect its natural state for all future generations to enjoy. The National Park Service manages the park resources to this day. Crater Lake is a nice way to spend the afternoon. If you are ever in Southern Oregon, make sure to plan a visit. You can then say you’ve seen the deepest lake in America.

Let’s go!

Lisa's book on our early adventures and her tact to balance work life and cave exploration