This Striking National Park Has America's Cleanest Air And Such Scenic Hiking Trails

Crater Lake, in the lush Oregon wilderness, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is also lucky for us that it is surrounded by amazing trails that are possible to explore over one weekend. Crater Lake National Park encompasses the deepest lake in America and is also one of the most popular destinations in Oregon. The lake is an unbelievable 1,943 feet deep, and on the right day, visitors can see 100 feet down. The water is so clean and so blue it almost looks to be manmade. But the air quality might be even cleaner than the amazing water. It has maintained the Class I grade, thanks to the Clean Air Act of 1977, which protects the area from potential air pollution.


It is next to impossible to have a bad time visiting Crater Lake, with so many fun areas to explore. The hiking trails allow for a diverse selection of trail difficulty levels that leave plenty of room for everyone to have a good time, regardless of their skill level. With over 20 trails and countless ways to create wonderful memories while breathing in clean air, you just can't go wrong. 

Crater Lake's air is some of the cleanest in America

Clean air is a scarce resource in the United States, and unfortunately, even if the government and the people make a concerted effort to change it, it may take years to see a substantial difference. In Oregon, the air tends to be a bit clearer and cleaner than many other places in the country. In fact, Oregon ranks fourth in air quality in the country in 2024, according to World Population Review. The air quality is monitored by the Clean Air Act and Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality. The three main qualities they look at are ground-level ozone, particle pollution, and nitrogen dioxide. 


At Crater Lake National Park, the air is so clear on some days that it may be possible to see 150 miles away. In the summer and fall, the view may be obscured by smoke from nearby wildfires, and at other times, light pollution, wood smoke, automobile exhaust, and other air pollution sources can contribute to a slightly hazy view over the lake. The quality of the always-blue water is "due to the lack of nutrients that would normally feed algae and plants," as explained by the National Park Service. All of these details contribute to creating one of the most beautiful parks in the country.

Scenic hiking and fun for all ages at Crater Lake National Park

Crystal-clear views of the Cascade Mountains and amazingly blue, clear water are not the only fantastic things about Crater Lake National Park. The trails are some of the best, with many that are perfect for families with small children. The park consists of thousands of acres of beautiful conifer trees, like the ponderosa pine, and land etched with the most popular trails circling the caldera of Crater Lake. There are 23 trails to choose from, as detailed by the National Park Service, with varying levels of difficulty. One of the most scenic trails is the 1.6-mile Watchman Peak. It winds its way up 8,013 feet above sea level to a historic Fire Lookout, which has panoramic views of the lake. However, this is a moderately challenging hike, so bring plenty of water and go on a day that is mild with calm winds, preferably in the summer. 


At 425,000 years old, the Mount Scott trail is the oldest and tallest in the park, at 8,929 feet above sea level. The trail is 4.4 miles long, with an amazing view of the entire lake. Another trail, The Pinnacles, is a 0.8-mile walk through the forest that is accessible by wheelchair. Some of these epic hikes in the park are more suited for experienced hikers. Be sure to take a trail map with you on your grand adventure, and get ready to have one of the best experiences in the country!