One sweeping survey of the landscape that makes up Crater Lake National Park is all it takes to understand why so many photographers and outdoor enthusiasts consider Oregon’s only National Park a Bucket List item. Situated in western Oregon atop the Cascade Range, the park affords breathtaking views in all directions, but the park’s undisputed crown jewel is Crater Lake.
Considered one of the most pristine lakes on Earth, Crater Lake was formed more than 7,700 years ago after a series of eruptions resulted in the collapse of the volcano known as Mount Mazama. The crater eventually filled with rain and snowmelt to create what is today the deepest lake in the United States. Towering crater walls surround clear blue water that mirrors the sky and creates mesmerizing spectacles of nature that demand attention. Mountain peaks often hold snow late into the summer months and even during summer snow can fall, creating even more of a surreal experience.
One of the best ways to take it all in is a trip around Rim Drive, a 33-mile park loop that circles the lake. But if you’re the one behind the wheel during your visit you might not get more than a quick glance out the window before the next bend in the road distracts you from your stunning surroundings. Which is probably why the Crater Lake Trolley rides are so popular during the summer season. The Klamath Falls-based company operates three trolleys, powered by compressed natural gas from Avista, that provide tours around the rim of Crater Lake several times each day from July through September. Tours are led by National Park interpreters and the trolleys make several stops at areas of interest so people can get out, breathe in the pure mountain air and snap as many photos as a memory card can hold.