Time from Seattle: ~ 8 hours
Distance from Seattle: ~ 450 miles
Things to do: Hiking, boating, camping, driving along the Rim Drive, photography.
Major thing to do: Staring in awe at the blueness of the water.
The only picture that forms in my mind when I think of Crater Lake is BLUE. It is so blue, it seems like someone has poured thousands of gallons of blue ink in the lake. Crater Lake National Park is the only national park in the state of Oregon, and is unique. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. It lies inside a volcanic basin created ~ 7,700 years ago when a mountain (Mount Mazama) collapsed due to a major eruption. Living in the Pacific Northwest for years, I have developed a major love for visiting places with volcanic history. Mount Rainier has been an all time favorite, but last year when I visited Mount St. Helens, I fell in love with it. I read up all I could about volcanoes, and then earlier this year when I decided to visit Europe, I had to hike Mount Etna in Sicily (Italy). People usually target Venice, Rome, Florence, etc., but I absolutely had to see Mount Etna.
I was back in the U.S. and I was leaving the west coast. This meant if I was given one last wish, it had to be a trip to Crater Lake. For 3 years I tried organizing a trip there, but something always got in the way. Once it was replaced by a trip to Yellowstone, once my pregnant friend backed out at the last moment, once we were unable to get campgrounds and the group refused to stay in a hotel. This time I was leaving Seattle, and I knew I would never come back just to visit Crater Lake. So I had to go.
[I had first seen Crater Lake from the airplane, and it was amazing. I could even see the Wizard Island. If you are ever flying south towards California or north towards Washington during the day, there are high chances that you will be able to see Crater Lake from the airplane.]
Now the problem with this trip was that I had already injured my ligament in Sicily, and I was limping on crutches. This meant there would be no hiking and no camping. Ideally a ligament tear would have meant complete bed rest, but I could not imagine letting go of a trip. I was signing up for a 16 hour round trip on the road. This time I got lucky. I actually found friends who were willing to join me for the trip, consider that I could not drive with my leg being the way it was, not hike or camp, and be sensitive to my injuries. What else could I ask for? I landed in U.S. on a Thursday night, and by Friday evening, I was on my way to Crater Lake :)
I had seen many pictures of Crater Lake in my friends’ albums, but nothing had prepared me for the sheer beauty of it when I saw it for myself. It is the bluest thing I have ever seen. It is huge, and surrounded by steep rock walls. It is one of the purest and clearest lakes since it has no outlets and is fed entirely by the snowfall. The pictures you see here are the summer pictures, but even in the month of May, Crater Lake is all white with snowfall. The snowfall pictures of Crater Lake are even more breathtaking, just that I would never fancy driving there in the snow with snow chains on car tires.
A small volcanic island (Wizard Island) rises roughly at one corner of the lake on its west side. Crater Lake has previously had other names like Deep Blue Lake, Blue Lake, and Lake Majesty. I think all the names are very befitting.
The stunning blue color of the lake is due to its depth, purity, and clarity of water. I am aware that there are boat rides at certain times of the day that take you all the way to the Wizard Island. It is a steep hike down the lake to the boat, which means I had to skip it. No regrets, I was more than happy seeing Crater Lake without having to hike up to the Wizard Island. We did not camp, we did not hike or boat, but what we saw was beyond words. We drove the entire 33 miles along the rim of the lake (called the Rim Drive) and stopped at various vista points to marvel at the beauty of the lake. We could not wake up early enough to see the sunrise, but we sure did see one hell of a beautiful sunset. And on this note, I would like to thank all four of my friends who gave in to my tantrums of taking me to Crater Lake, slowed down and helped me while I limped, let me sit in the front seat of the car to give me more leg space, reprimanded me whenever I walked faster out of excitement of seeing the lake from different vista points, and took hundreds of pictures for me.