Destination :: Crater Lake National Park

  • Crater Lake: A view of the lake from one of the roadside stops. Part of the rim is visible for most of the photo.

    View of Crater Lake. July 2014. Image 1/6

  • Crater Lake: A distant hiker heads along the start of the Mt. Scott trail. Mount Scott is visible to the left of the photo.

    Mt Scott. July 2014. Image 2/6

  • Crater Lake: Taken from the trail on Mount Scott, the lake, seen from above, is visible in the background.

    Crater Lake from Mt Scott. July 2014. Image 3/6

  • Crater Lake: Taken from partway up Mount Scott, the photo shows the top of the mountain and the fire lookout in the distance.

    Fire Lookout on Mt Scott. July 2014. Image 4/6

  • Crater Lake: The orangish/sand-colored castle formation sits on the slope of the crater leading down to Crater Lake, which is partially visible at the bottom of the image.

    The Castle at Crater Lake. July 2014. Image 5/6

  • Crater Lake: Gray tube-like pinnacles rise over a bare, sand-colored slope on a tree-covered mountain side.

    The Pinnacles. July 2014. Image 6/6

Oregon’s Crater Lake was created when Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed approximately 7,700 years ago. It is the deepest lake in the United States and the nineth-deepest lake in the world. And it really is as blue as it looks in photographs.

Accounts of the eruption appear in the stories of several tribes from the area, including those of the descendants of the Makalak tribe, who lived south east of Mount Mazama. This is their story (as captured by the National Park Service):1

The spirit of the mountain was called Chief of the Below World (Llao). The spirit of the sky was called Chief of the Above World (Skell). Sometimes Llao came up from his home inside the earth and stood on top of Mount Mazama, one of the highest mountains in the region. During one of these visits, he saw the Makalak chief’s beautiful daughter and fell in love with her. He promised her eternal life if she would return with him to his lodge below the mountain. When she refused, he became angry and declared that he would destroy her people with fire. In his rage, he rushed up through the opening of his mountain and stood on top of it and began to hurl fire down upon them.

The mighty Skell took pity on the people and stood atop Mount Shasta to defend them. From their mountaintops, the two chiefs waged a furious battle. They hurled red hot rocks as large as hills. They made the earth tremble and caused great landslides of fire. The people fled in terror to the waters of Klamath Lake.

Two holy men offered to sacrifice themselves by jumping into the pit of fire on top of Llao’s mountain. Skell was moved by their bravery and drove Llao back into Mount Mazama. When the sun rose next, the great mountain was gone. It had fallen in on Llao. All that remained was a large hole. Rain fell in torrents, filling the hole with water. This is now called Crater Lake.

Brief History

Mount Mazama is a sacred location for native tribes.
7,700 years ago
Mount Mazama explodes and collapses.
June 12, 1853
John Wesley Hillman, Isaac Skeeter, and a third member of a group of Oregonians searching for a lost gold mine are the first colonists to discover the mountain. In a fit of originality, they name it Great Blue Lake.
Chauncy Nye writes the first published account of a colonial encounter with the lake for Jacksonville's Oregon Sentinel. In a move nearly as original as the first group to reach the lake, he notes that "the waters were of a deeply blue color causing us to name it Blue Lake."
August 1, 1865
Hunters, civilians, and soldiers working as a road crew encounter the lake. Sergeant Orsen Stearns and Captain F.B. Sprague name it Lake Majesty.
July 1869
Jim Sutton, a newspaper editor, is the first to use the name Crater Lake.
September 28, 1893
The lake becomes part of the Cascade Range Forest Reserve.2
May 22, 1902
Crater Lake National Park is founded.
June 7, 1924
The park boundary changes.3
May 14, 1932
The park boundary changes.
December 19, 1980
The park boundary changes.
September 8, 1982
The park boundary changes.
May 28, 1987
The Crater Lake Superintendent's Residence is designated a National Historic Landmark.4


United States




Fantastic park. Some of the best-known sights are easily accessible at overlooks, and a range of trails offer opportunities for hikers/walkers of any skill level. Well worth the visit, whether you are driving through or staying for a week.

Visits: 1 Visited: July 2014

Quick Statistics

183,224+ acres5
90 miles6
756,344 (2016)7
Lake Depth
1,943 feet


  1. Unless otherwise noted, information about the park and park history is from "History," NPS.
  2. Crater Lake's inclusion in the Cascade Range Forest Reserve is noted in "History," NPS; the date for the creation of the CRFR is from "Cascade Range Forest Reserve," Wikipedia.
  3. All boundary changes from The National Parks: Index 2012-2016, NPS.
  4. "Listing of National Historic Landmarks by State: Oregon," NPS.
  5. Listing of Acreage (Summary), NPS.
  6. Reflections Visitor Guide, NPS.
  7. Annual Visitation Report, NPS.


  • Annual Visitation Report by Years: 2006 to 2016. NPS Stats. Accessed December 12, 2017. Link.
  • "Cascade Range Forest Reserve." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. October 6, 2017. Accessed November 12, 2017. Link.
  • "History." Crater Lake National Park. National Park Service. Accessed October 15, 2017. Link.
  • Listing of Acreage (Summary). NPS Stats. December 31, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2017. Link.
  • "Listing of National Historic Landmarks by State: Oregon." National Historic Landmarks Program. National Park Service. Accessed November 15, 2017. Link.
  • The National Parks: Index 2012-2016. National Park Service. 2016. Accessed November 16, 2017. Link.
  • "Reflections Visitor Guide. Summer/Fall 2017. National Park Service. Accessed October 15, 2017. Link.