Crater Lake fills a caldera where 12,000-foot Mount Mazama stood until 7,700
years ago. The caldera was formed by the collapse of Mount Mazama
following a series of cataclysmic volcanic eruptions. The eruptions emptied its
magma chamber, removing support for the summit cone. Wizard Island and
submerged Merriam cone were created by more recent volcanic activity that
ceased 4,000 years ago. Crater Lake does not have feeder streams or an
outlet. Precipitation has slowly filled the lake to its present level of 6,176 feet
above sea level. This level is maintained by evaporation and seepage. The
lake rarely freezes in winter.
Crater Lake Facts:
Maximum depth: 1,932 feet
Maximum width: 6 miles
Wizard Island height: 764 feet
Average annual precipitation: 66 inches
Average annual snowfall: 44 feet
Production: USGS Digital Elevations Models were used to model the lake
bottom and surrounding landforms. Snow, trees, and rocks were created from
artificial textures to suggest the Cascade Range in winter. Vertical
exaggeration has been introduced to amplify lake depths and mountain
Today, the nation’s sixth oldest national park serves to stand as a memorial to time. In 1902, Congress decided that Crater Lake and its surrounding 180,000 acres were to be “dedicated and set apart forever as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States.” The passing of this legislative act had been a 17 year effort, championed by Crater Lake’s primary promoter, William G. Steel. The act (16 USC 121) also required that measures be taken for the “preservation of the natural objects….the protection of the timber….the preservation of all kinds of game and fish,” and as well as for use by “scientists, excursionists, and pleasure seekers.”
Crater Lake National Park is host to a diverse array of activities. While enjoying the natural scenic wonders, park visitors may hike in old growth forests, participate in a variety of interpretive activites, camp out or stay in an historic hotel, or even cross-country ski during the eight month long winters which are experienced here in the high Cascades.
Preserving this environment for the continued use and enjoyment of the public is also a major goal of the National Park Service. Resource managers are invloved in studies on lake ecology, forest ecosystems, geologic processes, even the role of fire in maintaining healthy relationships between the forests and the land. Their work yields valuable data on the natural systems which have created and maintained that which we fondly call Crater Lake National Park.
Crater Lake National Park has been recommended as a wilderness preserve, a place where we may forget ourselves for a time and enjoy a surge of healthy outdoor exploration. Here, we may rediscover ourselves and learn that material things do not necessarily constitute our richest possessions. This blue gem of the Cascades certainly moves us deeply when we imagine the awesome power which created this wonderful place.
It’s great for camping in any season, although watch for winter storm warning as the road can get large amounts of accumulation quickly. The road around makes for a nice road bike ride when less traffic is present.