On Day Three of our vacation through Oregon, Kev and I awoke to a gorgeously beautiful Sunday. It was that glorious kind of day when the stars align and it’s warm, and cool, and sunny, and blue, all at the same time — the cargo-pants-and-flip flops, driving-with-the-windows-down kind of weather. It was the perfect day for a cruise down from Bend to see for ourselves the breathtaking, awe-inspiring, shockingly blue waters of Crater Lake.
We arrived through the north entrance, with this sharp view of Mount Thielsen to our right.
When we got to the lake, the golden sun was bright and high in a deeply blue sky, and so pleasantly warm as it wrapped around our skin. The crisp air had just a hint of that breezy, light coolness of early fall. We had absolutely delicious weather on Sunday in Oregon.
The history of the lake was so interesting to me. Crater Lake was not formed by meteor striking the earth as the name might suggest, but by the violent, volcanic eruption of Mount Mazama, which left a deep basin where the snow-capped peak once stood.
Centuries of rain and snow have filled the basin, creating a deep lake with stunningly blue waters and crystal clear clarity that seems to go on for miles. Why is the water so blue? Since there are no streams that run into the lake, there is very little sediment to cloud its pure waters. A balance of precipitation of evaporation keep the lake level consistent. The 33-mile rim around the lake is completely paved and drivable in the summer (with certain sections closing in the winter for snow), and offers many overlooks to park, jump out, and explore the lake at different viewpoints. We also saw many biking around the entire rim! What an awesome adventure that would be. If you’re up for a hike, the steep, 1.1 mile Cleetwood Cove Trail offers access to the lake’s shore. Here you can swim, and fish, and also take boat tours around the lake in the summer — just be sure to make reservations for tickets in advance. They also offer longer tours that include a stop at Wizard Island for exploration. How fun would that be?? If you’d like the stay at the lake, Crater Lake Lodge provides accommodations and dining during the summer, while Rim Village right next door features a small cafe and gift shop that is open year round. The National Park Service recommends two to three hours to travel around the lake, but I think we stayed more like five! We started at the north entrance and traveled clockwise around the lake, hopping out at every viewpoint along the way. I didn’t want to miss a single second of this beautiful lake. Unbelievable, isn’t it? The lake has been renamed at least three times, first as Blue Lake, then Lake Majesty, and finally Crater Lake. I can certainly see why Majesty would be such a befitting name for this rare beauty. The round, aptly named “Crater” Lake measures 5 by 6 miles across. Its average depth is 1,148 feet, but as the the lake’s water source is dependent upon the climate, the water level fluctuates as the weather changes. Its maximum depth has been measured at 1,943 feet. On the basis of maximum depth, Crater Lake is known to be the deepest lake in the nation. Many of the overlooks offer short trails for further exploration of the sweeping views and extravagant beauty of the lake.
I could not get over how clear the water was. Can you see these tiny shadows of the boats deep at the bottom of the lake bed?
The average clarity depth of the lake is 90-100 feet.
Ninety to one hundred feet. Wow.
The many pull-offs offer changing views of the sheer cliffs overlooking the lake.
Okay, so I know I wear this sweater in like, every photo you ever see of me. It’s from Old Navy, by the way. But from years ago. And for some reason, I feel the need to never-be-photographed-in-the-same-outfit-twice. It’s a compulsion. But I’m obviously not doing that great at it. So anyway, I totally feel weird packing this sweater on like, every single trip I go on. But in my defense, this outfit really is like, the most perfect outfit for traveling. Especially if I don’t know exactly what the weather’s going to be like. It can be hard to plan for packing during the “shoulder seasons” of fall and spring, with their sweltering hot days and freezing cold nights. Especially if you’re going to be outside for most of the day. It’s nearly impossible. And also, weather can be unpredictable 10-14 days out if I’m trying to pack for a long trip. But this, I can wear it with jeans or lighter cargo pants. The sweater is that perfect not-too-heavy, but not-too-light weight — warm enough for winter, but cool enough for summer. The top is perfectly acceptable to be worn as “just a top” so I can take off the sweater if it gets to warm. Basically, it’s very easy to layer. And I love it. And it’s comfy. And I’m very sorry for wearing it in every single photo you see of me. I do have other clothes. I just never wear any of them.
Is anyone still with me?
A view of Crater Lake with Mount Thielsen in the skyline.
This small, red-orange formation on the lake’s cauldron-like cliffs is known as Pumice Castle.
As you can see, exploration around the lake offers many unique features to search for. This tiny island in the lake is known as Phantom Ship for its resemblance to a ghostly ship, especially in dark, foggy weather.
Mount Thielsen through the trees.
Mount Mazama is one of many in the Cascade Range Volcanoes that saturate the west coast. This area is so densely populated with volcanoes (and earthquakes) because two of the Earth’s tectonic plates collide here. The Cascade Range Volcanoes are part of the larger “Ring Of Fire” that wraps around the entire Pacific Ocean, where 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur. As the oceanic plate is forced into the Earth’s continental plate, it encounters high temperatures and pressures that melt solid rock. As the plates continue to shift, the molten rock surfaces as volcanic eruptions.
This process is still happening to this day. Lassen Peak and Mount St. Helens have both erupted within the last century.
Though it may be dormant now, Mount Mazama is not an extinct volcano. It could awaken with a new eruptive phase one day, once again transforming this peaceful landscape.
Thanks so much for looking. I hope you enjoyed the photos of Crater Lake!
*Thanks so much to Travel Oregon for sending us on this adventure through Oregon!
Hi! Which Trail was that where you and Kevin were sitting on a rock? Where you can see the entire crater lake? It’s beautiful
Those are awesome photos! Which Trail was that where you and Kevin were sitting on a rock? Is it ok to take kids there?
The photography is beautiful, the place is heavenly and I am sorry to say that I missed going to Crater Lake when my husband and I traveled to Oregon in 2007. It will be on my list to visit when we travel to Oregon in 2017! We traveled Hwy 101 but should have taken a few more hours to see this unbelievable site. Thank you for sharing!
I left a message a couple of days ago asking if you would consider letting me use a few of your pictures for a fiber art piece on Crater Lake. You would be given credit for your photos. We would be entering the finished piece into shows and would need your written permission to do so. If any prize money was awarded, it would go to our group Threads Times three. Please let me know if you would allow us to do this.
i want you to know that i really enjoyed your pictures. I am a native to oregon and actually live only 75 miles west of crater lake which makes it very easy for me to visit. but the pictures of the beauty of the lake that you captured are absolutly amazing. Thank you for sharing.
Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing them! Travel Oregon is very smart to send you on this adventure, because I definitely want to visit Crater Lake now. Thanks for sharing
A little late looking at this. Incredible pictures, like your sweater. It was like I was there, I am now inspired to go up this next summer for sure! Good Job
Wow! All of your pictures are amazing! I wanted to pin one on my Pinterest board and found it hard to choose just one!
I grew up in Oregon, but have lived out east/south for the last 20 years. Your posts are making me extremely homesick:) Next time I am home I am definitely going to visit that chocolate shop in Bandon.
wow….you officially just put Crater Lake on my top 10 list. HOLY MOLEY.
xoxo from Trinidad
My dad lived in both Crater Lake and Grants Pass as a youth and yet somehow I have never been there. Once his side of the family moved down to lower California they just never went back. Now you are making me want to visit there! Hope it was a wonderful trip!
I visited Crater Lake 11 years ago with my roommate at the time. We were on a road trip from ND to CA and her car broke down in a small town 30 miles from Crater Lake. An elderly man that made conversation with us at the repair shop highly recommended going the 30 miles out of our way to see it. I’m so glad we did. It is absolutely breathtaking. Seeing it again, through your pictures, is even more breathtaking. Thank you for that little piece of nostalgia.
I live in Oregon and have visited Crater Lake more than once. But never has it looked as gorgeous as your photos !!! Beautiful……
Your photos are breath-taking! Absolutely Beautiful!
Wow, the water is sooo blue. Absolutely beautiful photos!
Love the sweater…don’t apologize for buying such a versatile and timeless piece of clothing…and wearing it every chance you get! :) I visit your blog often and my kids birthdays are always blessed by your AMAZING treats. So much more than a cupcake! Recently we are enjoying the smores cupcakes…HOLY TOLEDO! I just wanted to tell you that I have told my husband at least 3 times, since seeing these pictures, that I want to go to Oregon. What an absolutely breathtaking opportunity. Thanks!
I am just tickled that you came to our state and shared it on your website! Oregon is a such a treasure with everything from beach to mountains to high desert minus hurricanes, tornadoes, major earthquakes and extreme of the seasons (excessive hot and cold weather.) Thanks for coming out and sharing!
I think you’ve officially crossed over from Blogger to Beautiful Postcard Photographer!
Holy gorgeousness!!! Those photos are amazing. Phantom Ship Island actually gave me the chills a little. I’ve always wanted to go to Oregon and this just seals it. (And I’m totally down with you on the sweater thing. I’m wearing my own version right now!)
You continue to stun me with these photos and make me want to book my trip now! That first pic of you and Kevin had me in cold sweats! I pray you had a remote or someone taking the pic and not an auto timer! :-)
Beautiful pictures! I went there 20 years ago and loved it. I really like the shots with both of you and the gorgeous background. Also, I have a shirt we call my “festival shirt” It seems I’m always wearing it when we go to fests (because it is the perfect weight, shape….etc.!).
Thanks for sharing,
Great shots Amanda!! Seems you had a great time there!
These photos are stunning. I am wanting to make a trip out to Oregon eventually and I just remembered why I would rather it be sooner than later. Beautiful!
Beautiful pictures! On a side note, I wanted to thank you for your tutorials & fonts–my blog looks amazing and part of it is because of you!
Wow, I literally had chills looking at each picture. This place is GORGEOUS! Will now be on my must vacation list!
Beautiful pictures of a beautiful place! Hubby & I took a road trip thru parts of OR in late April early May a couple of years ago and stopped here. There was still about 20 feet of snow surrounding the parking lot at the cafe/gift shop. Rim village and most of the road around was still closed with snow. It was funny walking across hard pack snow the height of the upper windows of the cafe to see the lake. Esp. after coming from the high desert areas like Klamath Falls, like experiencing multiple seasons in one day. Definitely a place I hope to revisit again someday, in a different season.
Just beautiful – and informative as well! I would love to go there. I enjoy your website – thanks for posting!
That is absolutely gorgeous, what a view! Thank for sharing your photos Amanda. That is one place on my list, that I’d love to checkout.
Your pictures are amazing!!! I am sad I didn’t get to go to Crater Lake, but Josh insists on taking me. We will have to go together:)
Yes! I will go back any day! :) xoxo
You are so cute even wearing that same sweater in “every” photo. The photos are amazing!! I grew up in Oregon and never explored Crater Lake :/
These photographs are stunning! Oregon is one of my favorite places in the world – we honeymooned there and have been back every year on our anniversary since. These pictures are such a wonderful reminder to me why I love the state so much. Thank you!!
Wow! Thank you for this trip down memory lane. My sister and I spent a of days camping there, about 30 yrs ago. We were brave (crazy now) enough to bike down. Whooo hoooo! Such a beautiful place. Did you have the squirrels eating out of your hands?
Going here next Summer- 2013! Cannot wait, my great uncle lives in Bend and he will be our tour guide. So it was great when the Travel Oregon came about. Gave/ giving me a good idea of the things I will see. It’s so breath taking. Hoping to get just as good of photos as yours! We are also traveling to see the redwood’s. Which will be very exciting. I am assume we will stop to see Crater Lake along the way to the Redwood’s. Then camping amogst the trees. Love the photos, Keep em coming!
You cracked me up with the sweater story, Amanda. I do the same thing….pack almost the very same clothes whenever we travel to the Midwest to visit family. I have often looked at photos and thought, “What?? That purple turtleneck…AGAIN?” But, I’m in Arizona and don’t even own a lot of sweaters, so the same one or two go on every trip to Michigan. Too funny.
And, more seriously, your Crater Lake photos are outstanding! Thank you for sharing this great beauty with us. I’m sorry we didn’t have time to make this trip when we were in Oregon a couple weeks ago. It’s on the list for “next time.”
Have a great October!
I LOVED every single one of the photos of Crater Lake. Thanks for sharing.
Excellent photography and I enjoyed everyone of it.
Thanks for sharing.
Beautiful pictures!! I’ll definitely be adding Crater Lake to my list of places to visit! Thanks for sharing! And, it’s a cute sweater – you should wear it as often as you like!
Splendid pictures!!!! Thank you for sharing your Oregon adventure! WDE!!
Your pictures are AMAZING! My aunt lived above Crater Lake for YEARS and some of these pictures looks like the view from the end of their street – literally.
I’m an Oregon girl at heart, but live in the amazing south (Nashville, TN) now and LOVE it.
Thanks for sharing pictures of your vacation/journey
OH my– we used to go to Crater Lake when I was a wee kid—- way back in the dark ages. Still gorgeous- thanks for the memory blast.
Thank you! I feel like I’ve just visited Oregon for a little bit. :) Would love to go in person one day.
So beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing!
Thanks so much for these beautiful photos! What a great way to start the work week!
OMG! What a beautiful place! You take the most AmAzInG pictures! I seriously want your life! You do the best things and go to the best places!
Thanks Amanda for the breath taking pictures and excellent explanation of what we are looking at. Looks like a beautiful place to hike through. I love your photography skills, you have a gift.
I love Crater Lake! The last time we were there was the end of May a couple years back. We were all dressed in shorts & flip flops. You guessed it, it was snowing! We kinda just stayed in the lodge & shopped ’cause it was too foggy to get pictures of the water. (But we did buy a delicious local white wine in the shop…)
I saw Crater Lake in the dead of winter, so I was thrilled to see your end of summer pics. Good job on all the historical/educational info. My son and I were college shopping in Eugene OR (very interesting architecture on that campus) and decided to do a day trip to Crater Lake which quickly turned into a blizzard! Beautiful state when you can see it.
Simply Wonderful! I’m impressed, i love it.
I want to go! I have a sweatshirt that I wear on almost all our trips! *blush* but the dang thing is lightweight, goes with everything and soooo comfy.
Gorgeous views. And I like that sweater. ;)
my goodness, your photography is just gorgeous!! What a beautiful state :)
The pictures are just stunning! You are a fabulous photographer! Thanksfor a great start to my week!!! Amy :)
Wow it looks stunning ! Your photos and post make me want to visit there…. Just gorgeous.
Beautiful pictures. I guess there are no hotels, communities or resorts to clutter the the landscape around there. It is just so beautiful. What was the temperature of the day and water.
It’s so beautiful! We drove through on our way home from visiting a family member in South Central Oregon in June. There was still snow blocking access to half of the rim. We didn’t have much time, so we didn’t get to enjoy as much as I would have liked to, but it was worth the $10 to see it for the couple of hours that we did.