Crater Lake National Park

Clear Blue Waters Await in America's Deepest Lake

Vidae Falls

Crater Lake is the most prominent feature of Crater Lake National Park. Formed from a cataclysmic volcanic eruption about 7,700 years ago, the lake has long been revered as a sacred site by the Klamath peoples native to southern Oregon. In recent years, the lake has garnered admiration from nature lovers far and wide -- so much so that it was commemorated on the Oregon state quarter in 2005. With a maximum depth of 1,949 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and the second-deepest in North America. Its pristine waters are fed exclusively by snowmelt and precipitation, accounting for exceptional purity and clarity.

While it has no natural tributaries, the region's ample snowfall -- an average of 44 feet per year -- provides plenty of water for the lake, and lends lots of seasonal cover for winter recreation. Snowshoers, cross-country skiers and even snowmobilers take advantage of the many trails around the park during colder months. When the snow finally melts, generally sometime in late June or early July, the park's roads open to auto tourists and bikers that make the 33-mile journey around its rim. Hikers can explore Crater Lake National Park's network of backcountry trails, check out waterfalls, and spot Roosevelt elk grazing in meadows.