After driving across the arid Great Basin, Jessica and I were ready for something different. We certainly got that when we arrived at Crater Lake just in time for sunset.
Crater Lake lies inside the rim of a collapsed volcano caldera. Around 5,600 B.C., Mount Mazama erupted with a huge volcanic blast that blew the top off of the mountain. After the eruption, the center of the mountain collapsed leaving a depression. The solid igneous rock created an impenetrable bowl that then collected snow and rainwater and eventually formed massive Crater Lake.
June is a hard time to visit Crater Lake. The area averages over 500 inches of snow annually, and its high elevation means the snow can last well into the summer. We got lucky and visited in a low snow year. That meant that the campsites were open, but the rim was still largely blanketed with snow. The rim road, precariously perched on the edge of huge cliffs, still had 10+ foot snow banks.
After arriving, we quickly set up our campsite and drove up to the rim of Crater Lake. From the western side of the rim we looked down from 2000+ feet above the water and shivered as the wind chilled us to the bone. A well-placed parking area let us watch the sunset from the comfort of our car.
While we had originally planned to do a hike the next morning, the lingering deep snow meant that we could only really drive around the rim. We spent a few hours exploring and taking photos before driving north to our next location, Bend, OR.