The Deepest Lake In The US Is Tucked Away In This Stunning National Park

Located about an hour from Klamath Falls, Oregon, the 1,943-feet-deep Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, and ninth deepest lake in the world. If you're trying to conceptualize just how far down that is, the Statue of Liberty could be stacked on top of the Empire State Building and still not break the surface. Pretty impressive!


Beyond its impressive stats, Crater Lake's unique geography has intrigued travelers for centuries. There are no streams or rivers that feed into or out of the lake, meaning all of its water comes from rainfall or snow. Indigenous groups like the Klamath people of northern California and southern Oregon pass down stories that tell of the eruption of Mount Mazama 7,600 years ago, which formed the hollow in the ground. It's believed that the caldera collected rainwater and snow, eventually turning into the lake we know today. Its stunning blue colored water is owed to the lake's depth, clarity, and purity.

President Theodore Roosevelt declared Crater Lake the sixth national park in the country in 1902, and ever since, millions of people have come to check out its breathtaking views and one-of-a-kind trails. Per National Parked, over 600,000 people flock to the crystal blue lake every year. If you love the outdoors, it should definitely be on your travel bucket list.


Explore Crater Lake by car or boat

If you're visiting Oregon's only national park, following the famous Rim Drive around Carter Lake is a must-do. The 33-mile road offers numerous spots to pull over and take in the breathtaking views, like that of Phantom Ship, the dramatic rock outcropping that's one of the lake's two islands. During the high seasons of July, August, and early September, you can even take a trolley tour along the Rim Drive. Tickets can be advance purchased and cost $36 for adults, $34 for seniors, and $25 for children.


Of course, while getting the view from above is worth it, to really appreciate the rugged beauty of the cliff-lined lake, it's in your best interest to get out on the water. Although Crater Lake isn't open to recreational boating, you can take a guided boat tour. The only way to get to the dock — and to the lake shore itself for swimming and fishing — is via the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which is accessible from around mid-April to mid-October. Keep in mind that this trail can be challenging, as it drops over 700 feet over 1.1 miles, and you have to be able to get yourself back up. Take it slow if you're a beginner, especially if you're prone to altitude sickness. Crater lake itself is at 6,178 feet elevation and the rim is around 7,000 feet.


Along with boat tours, you can take a boat shuttle straight to Wizard Island, a volcanic cinder cone to the west end of the lake. The island also has a number of hiking trails, including one that offers a stunning view of the lake from its 763-foot summit.

Crater Lake is a must-see stargazing spot

While Crater lake is stunning during the day, it's not to be missed at night time. The park is far away from light pollution and with such clear air that you can see countless stars with the naked eye. This is why many travelers say it's worth staying overnight just to stargaze. Pick pretty much any spot along the Rim Road on a clear night without a full moon, and you'll be treated to amazing views of the Milky Way filling the sky. With the overwhelming natural beauty of the lake and the night sky, you can start to understand why it's been considered such a sacred and special place for the area's Indigenous people.


If you've got the gear for a camping adventure, you can put it to good use, too. The Mazama Campground (located in the park woods itself) features large spots for car camping, complete with a picnic table and fire pit. If you're looking for a more rugged experience, there are some backcountry sites available, too. On the flip side, if you prefer to sleep in a real bed, the Cabins at Mazama Village are tucked into an old-growth pine forest a short drive from the lake, and Crater Lake Lodge in Rim Village, first built in 1915, has amazing views of the lake.