Outdoor panoramic shot of crater lake at sunset

Crater Lake

The deepest lake in the Western Hemisphere, Oregon’s Crater Lake draws visitors from around the world. Formed by the collapse of a volcano, the lake is fed solely by rain and snow, making its water some of the clearest and purest found anywhere on the planet and its color the bluest blue. Set that blue against old-growth forest, 2,000 feet high cliffs and a picturesque island in the middle of it all, and you’ll see why we Oregonians consider it one of the seven wonders of our state.

Due to its high elevation, Crater Lake National Park experiences a rare sub-alpine climate, with mild and warm summers but winters that are cold with heavy snowfall (an astounding 488 inches a year!), that usually doesn’t melt until mid-July. So be sure to pack warm clothes even for the summer season.

Most people travel to Crater Lake between July and mid-September when the weather is warm and there is little chance of rain. Hiking, backpacking, camping, picnicking and sight-seeing opportunities abound. The historic Crater Lake Lodge (www.craterlakelodges.com) offers the only in-park accommodations. First opened in 1915, it welcomes you with its rustic charm. The dining room features Oregon-grown ingredients, from mushrooms and berries to Rogue Valley cheeses and wines.

If you like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, the park is open and accessible year round. Not all roads are passable due to blizzards, high winds and frigid temperatures, and many facilities are closed as well. But if you’re willing to brave the snowdrifts, you’ll enjoy incredible solitude and pristine views of the park.