16 Fascinating Facts About Crater Lake

Did you know that the deepest lake in the United States isn’t one of the 5 Great Lakes?

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about Crater Lake.

1. Crater Lake is located in Oregon

Crater Lake is located in south-central Oregon in the west of the United States. It’s part of the Cascade mountain range in a segment of the Cascade Volcanic Arc.

The closest cities in the area are Klamath Falls about 56 miles (90 kilometers) to the south of the lake, and Medford about 62 miles (100 kilometers) to the southwest of the lake.

facts about Crater Lake

2. It’s part of an amazing National Park

The area that the lake is located in simply looks amazing. Therefore it has been turned into a national park called the “Crater Lake National Park.”

This national park was established in the year 1902 which makes it the 5th-oldest national park in the United States. It’s also the only national park in the U.S. state of Oregon.

The park covers an area of 286.3 square miles (741.5 square kilometers) and even though it’s most famous for the amazing lake, it has numerous other special features such as the “Pumice Desert,” a desert covered in powdered volcanic rock, and the “Pinnacles,” a fascinating rock formation formed by a volcanic eruption.

Crater lake national park pinnacles
The Pinnacles / Little Mountain 5 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

3. It’s the deepest lake in the United States

One of the most interesting facts about Crater Lake is that it’s by far the deepest lake in the United States. It has an average depth of 1,148 feet (350 meters) and a maximum depth of 1,943 feet (592 meters).

Another fascinating fact is that the depth of the lake fluctuates year by year. Measurements in the years 1959 and 2000 showed a change in depth of about 17 feet (5 meters).

What’s remarkable is that it’s much deeper than all of the 5 Great Lakes of North America such as Lake Michigan, Erie, Huron, Superior, and Ontario!

Crater lake depth

4. It’s one of the deepest lakes in the world as well

If we don’t count the subglacial Lake Vostok in Antarctica and the recently reported depth of Lake O’Higgins/San Martin on the border of Chile and Argentina, then Crater Lake in Oregon is the 7th deepest lake in the world based on maximum depth and the 3rd-deepest based on average depth.

The deepest lake in the world is Lake Baikal in Russia which has a maximum depth of 1,642 meters (5,387 feet) and an average depth of 744.4 meters (2,442 feet).

lake baikal
Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world.

5. Crater Lake isn’t that big

Crater Lake isn’t the biggest lake in the United States by a long stretch. In fact, it’s not even listed in the top 100 lakes in the country by surface area, which makes it all the more fascinating that it’s so much deeper than all the others.

The lake measures about 5 by 6 miles (8.0 by 9.7 kilometers) across and has a total surface area of 20.6 square miles (53 square kilometers). The length of its shore is just 21.8 miles (35.1 kilometers), meaning you could potentially walk around the entire lake in just 1 day.

Since Crater Lake is located in the Cascade Mountain Range, the peaks surrounding the lake have a height of between 7,000 and 8,000 feet (2,100 and 2,400 meters) and the lake’s surface is located at a height of 6,178 feet (1,883 meters).

crater lake interesting facts

6. The lake was formed nearly 8,000 years ago

One of the most remarkable facts about Crater Lake is that it was formed because of a massive volcano eruption of Mount Mazama and its subsequent collapse between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago. A huge caldera was formed which filled with water.

After the caldera was formed, rain and snow filled it, and Crater Lake was born, a process that is estimated to have taken about 720 years to reach the current surface level.

During the eruption, an astounding 12 cubic miles (50 cubic kilometers) of magma was blown out, which means this must have been a massive event in history!

crater lake fun facts

7. There are 2 islands on Crater Lake

There are two islands on Crater Lake which were formed by later lava eruptions. These islands are basically the peaks of a central platform that was formed inside the lake.

One island is called Phantom Ship and Wizard Island, with Wizard island being the largest. Its peak stands about 755 feet (230 meters) above the surface of the lake. What’s remarkable about Wizard island is that its cone is capped with a volcanic crater that is about 500 feet (150 meters) wide and 100 feet (30 meters) deep.

Wizard Island in Crater Lake
Wizard Island / Source

8. Will the volcano erupt in the future?

What’s scary about Crater Lake is that the hydrothermal activity never really died down which means the Mazama may erupt again in the future.

9. The lake was discovered halfway through the 19th century

The first non-Native American to lay his eyes on Crater Lake was a prospector named John Wesley Hillman. He didn’t intend to find it though as he was mainly interested in finding gold during the California Gold Rush.

Crater Lake is famous for its extremely clear water so Hillman referred to it as “Deep Blue Lake.”

Crater lake interesting facts

10. Crater Lake has had multiple different names

Deep Blue Lake wasn’t the only other name that the lake has had in history. Before it was being referred to as Crater Lake it was called “Blue Lake” and “Lake Majesty” as well.

We can only assume that the gold-hungry prospectors of halfway through the 19th century didn’t know the lake was actually formed by a volcano eruption!

11. The area is covered in snow most of the year

Due to the elevation that the lake is located at, it has a subalpine climate. While the temperature during the summer months can be quite enjoyable, the winter months are extremely cold and harsh.

The area is also prone to extreme snowfall because of the influence of the Aleutian Low, a permanent low-pressure system north of Crater Lake. The average yearly snowfall amounts to 505 inches (12.83 meters) and an average snow cover of 139 inches (3.53 meters).

Like to see Crater Lake in amazing snowy conditions? Then you need to make sure to go before Mid-July because the snow tends to melt the months after.

Crater lake in winter

12. Only 2 species of fish live in Crater Lake

Before the year 1888, there weren’t any fish living in the lake. It’s only after a man named William G. Steel decided to introduce 6 different types of fish into the lake that it has been inhabited by fish.

Stocking happened frequently until the year 1941 but only 2 of the original 6 species that were introduced survived, the Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout.

Is fishing allowed at Crater Lake? Most certainly and it’s even encouraged!

Fishing in Crater Lake
Fishing in Crater Lake / Source

13. an old man is standing in the lake

A remarkable sight in the lake is an old tree stump that is standing in it and which is referred to as the “Old Man of the Lake.” The stump is about 2 feet (61 centimeters) in diameter and stands about 30 feet (9 meters) tall.

The earliest notion of the tree stump was in a report written in 1896 and analysis uncovered that the tree, which is most likely a hemlock, is about 450 years old!

Old man in crater lake
Old Man in the lake / Wiki Commons

14. These people regard the lake to be sacred

The Klamath tribe are the Native Americans who lived in the area of Crater Lake. They considered the lake to be sacred and are believed to have been living in the area the time that Mount Mazama collapsed and the lake was formed.

They believed that the event that created the lake was caused by a battle between sky god Skell and the god of the underworld Llao. A rock located near Crater Lake was called after the Klamath Tribe’s god of the underworld, Llao Rock.

Llao Rock at Crater Lake
Llao Rock at Crater Lake / Source

15. Where does Crater Lake’s water go?

One of the most fascinating facts about Crater Lake is that it doesn’t have an inflow and outflow. So where does Crater Lake’s water come from and where does it go to?

Some of the water is evaporated every year and rain and snowfall compensate for this. It’s estimated that it takes about 250 years for the 4.49 cubic miles (18.7 cubic kilometers) of water in the lake to be completely replaced with new water.

16. There are several trails to catch amazing views

There’s a big hotel located inside the Crater Lake National Park called the “Crater Lake Lodge.” The national park is a very popular tourist destination for nature lovers and several hiking trails offer amazing views of the area.

One of the most popular trails is called the Garfield Peak Trail and starts just east of the Crater Lake Lodge. On this trail, you can get vies from about 1,900 feet (580 meters) above the lake’s surface, an amazing experience!

Garfield Peak Trail
Garfield Peak Trail / Markgorzynski / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en