The above picture is a composite of six photographs taken from the top of the fire station at Watchman's Tower. Because of this, it is not true to proportion. Wizard Island looks much larger than it really is due to the closer proximity of the angle. By clicking on this picture, it will take you to the Official Crater Lake website.
Crater Lake claims the reputation for having some of the bluest, purist and deepest water in the world. It is the seventh deepest lake in the world and the first on the North American Continent. Because the water within the caldera is from rain and snowfall only, it is the most pristine, pure water possible in nature. It has been measured at nearly 2,000 feet in depth. Within it's depths are volcanic domes including Wizard Island which have been formed since the eruption of Mount Mazuma, the original landmark of this place.
This is a place of natural beauty that is accessible and visitor friendly for only a short period of time each year due to heavy snowfall. It is this snowfall that filled the caldera with the deep blue water that sustains what life has reproduced in this volcanic region. We were fortunate to visit during the very brief period of time during which there were wildflowers in bloom.
The above collage was made in Paint Shop Pro using photos that we took while visiting Crater Lake on 7- 8 August 2003.
After leaving the highway and heading within the park gates, there was still a long drive straight through a woodsy pumice plain before rising on the shoulder of the volcanic mountain that was once known as Mount Mazuma.
Joe had never seen Crater Lake and had discovered a couple of days where he could get away from work. We decided to squeeze in a quick camping trip and go see the area. It had been about ten or 12 years since Ruth had been there, and the beauty and majesty had been forgotten by then. It was a wonderful renewal of nature to behold it again.
It was shortly after five pm when we arrived at the first viewpoint. When we got out and walked to the top of a small rise, it was a mixture of emotions and discoveries. FIrst thing noticable was that although it was August, it was darn cold! There were still patches of snow along the roadside in places as well as down in the caldera. The other noticable things were the stillness of the glass like water and the immenseness of the lake. As we walked along the rim to view the beauty, we discovered a variety of wildflowers in bloom which we had not expected to get to view!
It seemed nearly every little nook and cranny had something growing and trying to bloom. There were probably a few varieties that I did not photograph as we had a shortage of film and ran out before the day's adventure was finished. We therefore did not get any photos of the fumerole pinnacles which were remarkable to view. There are reasons to return and see this place again. Each season will undoubtedly offer new wonders.
Part of the reason for the chill when we first arrived on Wednesday evening was due to an approaching storm that broke shortly after we got to the first viewpoint. It began to sprinkle just a bit as we viewed the lake from the rim and took the wildflower photos. We went on to Rim Village without further stops for this reason. We got directions to the campground and proceeded straightway to locate a campsite before it got dark with the cloudcover and lightening storm that was beginning. We made camp and attended a ranger presentation at the amphitheatre that evening without further rain.
Because we were only planning an overnighter for Joe to get back to work on Friday, we packed fairly lightly and prepared for simple meals. Those were made even more simple by the discovery of micro
waves at the villages that we used to heat our food! That saved cleanup as well, which was strictly regulated due to bear hazards. It did continue to sprinkle some throughout the night and we listened to thunder in the distance before sleeping.
After breaking camp we proceeded to the nearest information center to get an idea of the daily events and how to plan our schedule. We viewed a video while there about volcanoes and Sebastian was awarded his Junior Ranger badge as it was his second Ranger-led activity and he had his form all filled out.
For Sebastian, that turned out to be a total "downer" as he was now requested to warn others not to feed the animals, whereas before he was the one wanting to feed and attract the numerous chipmunks to come to him. He had tossed some of his morning muffin to several of the funny little critters at breakfast and was now doomed to refrain for the remainder of his tour of the park.
Although wildlife is not as abundant as at Yellowstone Park, there were sightings. And the little golden ground squirrels were extremely numerous and entertaining. It was evident that many were accustomed to being fed by the park visitors.
Proceeding to drive in a clockwise direction around the rim road of the crater, we viewed majestic rock formations and beautiful nature at every roadside viewpoint. The colors were much more vibrant with the daylight than with the preceeding day's stormclouds.
We wondered if we'd be able to capture the true depth of colors with our film. The majesty of size and distance were not to be captured, but the colors came through not too badly.
One of the first viewpoints of the day, after a microwave heated lunch of fried chicken at Rim Village, was at the base of WatchMan's tower. It was a large viewpoint out over the top of Wizard Island with Devil's Backbone to one side and lots of expansive blue water and rock formations to view from all angles. There were clumps of gnarly tree stands and the trail up to the tower. Joe took the hike up to view the valley from the top viewpoint while Sebastian and I remained below to view the many varieties of landscape with the binoculars. The bluest turquoise patches of water near Wizard Island, and the patches of snow around the lake were all visible from here. Phantom Ship was on the far side of the lake however and was only a dark spot even through the binoculars. The photos that Joe took from the top were great to get a wonderful overall view. It was here that he took the five photos used for the panoramic shot at the top of the page. It ws also here that we discovered we were down to only one roll of film left already!
I abhor having my photo taken, and even worse is to have it on view, but the view here overcame my protests.
It was such a spectacular place to be that I guess I don't mind bragging about being there front and center!
The turquoise waters did not come out in this photo. The far shadows of the lake at the right top are the area of the Phantom Ship. Off to the left of the Island along the shoreline and up the crater walls is where the Devil's Backbone formation rises out of the wall upward. To the right going up from the Island is the ranger station at the top of Watchman's Tower peak.
The lake boats are stored in little sheds on the shore around the right side of the Island for Winter protection.
Devils's Backbone....We think? There were similar formations further along the crater wall back to the right. But these seemed more prominent and had a better viewpoint.
Wizard Island was once thought to be the top of Mount Mazuma which sunk into the crater. It was later discovered to be a new volcanic dome formed after the original mountain collaped into the caldera.
The variety of shape, color and size of rock formations made the entire area a treasure trove of geological study. Here is a cliff side formed when the top of the original mountain slid away from the shouder base. Because the lava flows began lower in the mountain, it weakened the walls to the point that the top collapsed inward rather than blowing up and disappearing in that manner. It effectively sealed the crater caldera so that there is no incoming source of water other than the pure rain and snow that make the lake so pristine.
The firetower itself was not opened to the public, but inside is very easily visible with the glassed walls.
The view itself from the top was pretty awesome and worth the climb for those able and willing to make it.
The Watchman's Tower is at the top of the peak, below . The beginning of the trail can be seen at the lower right.
The beautiful photo above was taken from the watchman's tower station. Because I am using it for my desktop wallpaper, I chose not to frame it and save two copies.
Those tiny cars down there are at the roadlevel viewpoint. That is where Sebastian and I waited while Joe climbed the trail up to get this panoramic shot of the caldera and valley beyond.
This was one of the larger viewpoints other than Rim Village and included restrooms.
A small sampling of the rock and vegetation varieties along the rim road drive.
The day was so perfect after the heatspell in the Willamette Valley. And the blue of the water with the contrasting colors of rock and vegetation drew in the eye in such exquisite fascination that many were trying to capture it on film.
The height of the rim rock road opened to panoramic views of the valley beyond the crater as well. At the end of the day after viewing the fumarole pinnacles, we took a dirt nature road through wooded back areas with open views of the entire Klamath Valley. Although we were out of film by then, these are pretty typical of some of the views seen along the drive.
When the area became a national park, the hope was to retain the peaceful, pristine qualities of this for generations to come.
At the bottom of this page are some links to other information and photo journals about Crater Lake National Park and its many wonders. Check them out!
So far the purposes have remained true. It has also become an environmental school for gaining knowledge about nature, forests, volcanoes, and geological changes in the earth.
The quiet beauty makes viewing of birds quite a pleasure as they go about life in the wilderness. Blue jays below enjoy a rare birdbath in the rock crevices that filled with rainfall from the previous day's storm.
Part of the fascination for me was realizing that these landmarks had been so named hundreds of years before by explorers who had seen the same views that we were now experiencing! This monumental place has been in existence for nearly 7,000 years since the eruption and disappearance of the great Mount Mazuma!
The only legal access to the lake below is a single, "strenuous one and one half mile trail downward". This allows access for swimming, fishing, and taking the tour boat out to Wizard Island for a hefty fee.
The park had just purchased new boats and had them airlifted down to the Lake the week before our arrival. The old ones had been removed and they were ready for summer business. Unfortunately, however, the boats were built at sea level and did not adjust well to the 6,000 above sealevel height at which they were required to run. Therefore, a great many people went away disappointed at not being able to ride the tour boats around the lake and Wizard Island.
It's fairly easy to guess why the rock formation got the name of Phantom Ship. Imagine coming through foggy waters on the lake toward that massive landmark! It is not nearly so dominating as Wizard Island, but well worth the drive around the lake to view the unique formation. It was here that we ran out of film as Sebastian experienced his favorite portion of the entire journey.
Although the last three shots of so were of Sebastian, they were well worth taking as it was the highlight of the trip for him. He was able to repeat the thing that his older brother, Ryan, had accomplished nearly ten years before on his only trip to Crater Lake. It was memorable for that reason as well as for the pure joy of having done what he did! And doing it WITHOUT breaking any of the park rules!
Part of the reason that Sebastian was able to coax a chipmunk into his arms, was due to the illegal feeding of this little critter. He was so trusting and expectant of food that he danced, pranced, and did lots of entertaining antics for the tourists. We had to explain to a group of girls why it was illegal to feed them. This knowledge made the petting of this little critter bittersweet as Sebastian realized that it was one little guy who most likely would not be able to care for himself through the harsh winter months ahead.
Feeding the animals is CRUELTY. It may be fun and very entertaining, but it is death to the animals.
As these little creatures learn to trust the tourists and beg for food, they lose all interest in learning to forage for and store the food necessary to maintain life during the long, harsh winter months at the peak of this volcanic region. When the handouts are gone, they starve to death.
After leaving the Phantom Ship Viewpoint, we went to see the fumarole pinnacles. These were fascinating and beautiful monuments to a time past as well as so many other places in the park. But we were unfortunately out of film. I have listed links to the left that have wonderful photographs of the fumaroles that were taken and posted by other visitors. Some of the sites are very informative as to the history and treasures of the park. Take time to enjoy viewing them and learning about this natural wonder that we have in our beautiful state of Oregon. It never ceases to amaze me the diversity of this great state. The Pacific Ocean, Cascade Mountains,, deserts, volcanoes, gardens and forests. We lack nothing that could be needed to claim this as the garden of Eden
Somewhere around this side of the lake, before coming within view of the Phantom Ship, we saw the boats out on the lake testing. We later saw through the binoculars that two boats were pretty well loaded with people, so apparently they were running some that day. It was here that we also viewed "the old man of the lake".
"Old Man of the Lake" is an uprooted tree that surfaces from time to time in the lake and is visible floating about. It has been mentioned in travel journals from several HUNDRED years ago! It apparently is petrified from volcanic ash in order to still be in existence.