Crater Lake was formed by a collapsed volcano and at 1,943 feet deep, is the deepest lake in the United States. Crater Lake also happens to be surrounded by 13,655 acres of wildfires* to the south and west, currently contained at about 60%*.
*Update: This post was written last week as we were leaving Crater Lake National Park. The fires have spread since then, causing part of the scenic drive and several trails to be closed and evacuation notices to be issued for some campgrounds. Please check with the National Park Service before visiting for the most up-to-date information on the fires. My recommendation – call and speak to a ranger instead of simply checking the website.
We drove through thick smoke into the park to find that we couldn’t see the edges of the lake or actually very far at all. An ever-helpful park ranger (seriously, why are they always so nice and helpful?) suggested that we try again in the morning, and that depending on the wind it would likely be our best chance of seeing the lake. We decided to head to bed early and try again in the morning for sunrise on our way down to California.
The next morning we stumbled out of our tent at 5am to it and our rental car covered in ash. We were assured that our campground was safe and far away from the fires, but it put it in perspective that we were actually that near to a live wildfire. There were camps of firefighters an earshot away – camping just like we were but for an entirely different reason – risking their lives to contain the wildfire and protect the park. We are eternally grateful.
We packed up camp and arrived at Watchman Overlook at 6am for this gorgeous view.
Both of us agreed that we’d never seen such a watercolor-like sunrise. It almost looked fake – like Mother Nature went a little overboard with her Instagram filters this morning. I can only speculate that the smoke had something to do with it, but it was gorgeous nonetheless.
Also, fun fact, even though I didn’t know it at the time, this was not my first time to Crater Lake. We stood in that exact spot this morning without realizing that [some] years ago I did the same with my grandfather. Isn’t it wonderful when the universe delivers pleasant little surprises?
Love from California,
Cathleen & Christopher