I visited the deepest lake in the United States and probably one of the bluest lakes I’ve ever seen. Crater Lake is in southern Oregon where it was created from a volcanic eruption several thousand years ago and has since turned into a lake due to snow and rainfall. I’ve been meaning to visit this National Park for quite some time but it’s just a tad too far from SF. Luckily for me, I was able to make a quick detour on my drive from SoCal to the Pacific Northwest.
Saying Crater Lake is in the middle of nowhere is an understatement. It’s surrounded by forests and mountains and the closest major town is over 50 miles away. We stayed in Fort Klamath (not to be confused with Klamath Falls) which is just 7 miles from the National Park. Of the three motel options, we chose Aspen Inn and really liked it. The owners were extremely friendly and the property was really cute.
We spent one full day exploring Crater Lake driving around the 33-mile Rim Drive, hiking several trails and capturing the beautiful views. Honestly it looked like a Mac wallpaper no matter which angle we looked at the lake.
Our first hike, and my favorite of the two, was Cleetwood Cove which brought us down to the water. This is a short but steep 2-mile roundtrip hike and is the only trail with access to the lake. We thought the views along the way were great, but what we saw from the base was on a whole other level. The water was so still with reflections that looked almost fake. It was also so clear that we could see fish swimming and the sides extending into the depth, creating the rich royal blue color. We spent 30 minutes taking it all in and dipping our fingers in the frigid water.
Views along the hike:
Views at the lake:
After hiking down to the lake, we hiked up to Garfield Peak for panoramic views of the lake. This is the second highest peak in the park at just over 8000 ft above sea level, and it’s 3.5 miles roundtrip from Rim Village. Unlike Cleetwood Cove trail, the hike up didn’t have impressive lookouts, but the peak offers an expansive view of the lake. We were able to see both Wizard Island and Phantom Ship in the distance.
Throughout the day, we drove around Rim Drive and stopped by various lookout points, all with amazing views of the lake. Regardless of how many lookouts we stopped at, it was hard to top what we saw at Cleetwood Cove.
I thought one day was more than enough time at the national park and I’m super pleased with the hikes we did. If it’s not clear already, Cleetwood Cove is my favorite hike by far with the most impressive views of the lake. Definitely check it out if you visit Crater Lake!