57 miles north of Klamath Falls, off Rte. 62, Oregon
Crater Lake is the deepest (1,943 feet) and probably the bluest lake in the United States and is set like a sapphire in the bowl-shaped caldera of old Mount Mazama, a volcano that erupted and collapsed nearly 7,000 years ago.
Traces of past volcanic activity can be seen at The Pinnacles, reached by Sand Creek Highway, a seven-mile paved road passable from late summer until heavy snow. These pumice and scoria formations, 75 to 100 feet tall, rise like an army of obelisks from a 200-foot-deep canyon. Some 30 trails (ranging from less than a mile to 35 miles) crisscross the park.
Hikes up Watchman Peak and Mount Scott provide the best views of the lake. There are two campgrounds, at Mazama and at Lost Creek, both accessible by road from Rim Drive. And with a permit you can camp in the backcountry.
Crater Lake is particularly beautiful in winter and, despite an annual snowfall of 533 inches, easy to visit. The road is kept clear, and a ski trail circles the crater rim. On weekends from Thanksgiving to April, you can join snowshoe hikes led by a park ranger.
–Park and visitors center open year-round.