Crater Lake National Park has a dull entrance sign, but the scenery is spectacular. The southern, or they call it the western entrance, is where the park headquarters are located. A little further up the road is Mazama Rim Village where are located a gift shop, cafe, lodge and the most commonly seen photo-op overlook location.
From the porch of the gift shop/cafe is a view of a mountain which looked very much like Mt. McLaughlin which we have been seeing along the road from Medford-Eagle Point to Shady Cove. Only this mountain peak was covered with snow, unlike the Mt. McLaughlin we had been seeing with the “flying eagle”, “flying angel” melted snow image. However, we did discover later, at another overlook further into the park, that it was indeed Mt. McLaughlin. What a difference it makes to see the southern versus northern face of the mountain.
The most common photo shown on the Internet, in books, in travel videos, etc. Is the one of the unusually blue lake with Wizard Island and Llao Rock bluff behind it. Notice that no snow is in view on Wizard Island. Note: the island is facing south.
Some history on the making of Crater Lake taken from the park brochure: IT GREW for 400,000 years of repeated volcanic eruptions, making Mt. Mazama one of the highest at about 12,000 feet, along with Mt. Ranier and Mt. Shasta, in the Cascade Range. IT BLEW about 7700 years ago in a manner similar to the blast and destruction of Mt. St. Helen’s in Washington. IT FELL - collapsed, when the magma chamber emptied and the mountain top could no longer be supported. That formed a deep bowl called a caldera. The ragged, jagged rim of the caldera is what was left of the sides of the mountain, including the glacial valleys. IT FILLED over centuries with rain and snowfall. No streams run into the lake, so very little sediment clouds the pure water. The pure clarity of the water has sometimes been measured at 140 feet depth of visibility. IT’S BLUE because all water does not absorb, but reflects, the blue color rays like clear water in a white plaster swimming pool looks blue.
Further into the park on the rim road, called Rim Drive, on the western part of the rim, was a southwestern overlook of mountain peaks. The interpretive sign was about the Chain of Fire - volcanic peaks from British Columbia, Canada to Mt. Lassen, California. In this photo, the closest, most brilliant peak is not a volcano. It is Union Peak, near which is the area of the Rogue River Gorge. Near it, on the left of Union Peak in the photo, is Mt. McLaughlin. Because of the haziness of the day, due to wind blown smoke from wildfires, McLaughlin looks like it is floating. Continuing left across the photo, near the tree with the cloud over it, is the location one would-should-could see Mt. Shasta, in California, on a very clear day. We were not able to see it.
Now we come to an overlook from the western rim, across Wizard Island and the lake, to the eastern rim. Notice how Wizard Island has snow on the one side, the north side, but not on the south side. The south side faces Mazama Rim Village where we took the first photos. Across the lake is another high rim of the blown away mountain. The peak on the left is Pumice Castle, and the peak on the right is Sentinel Rock.
This is Llao Rock, one huge piece of volcanic extrusion of a material called dacite. It is a very prominent feature as you cast your eyes around the rim. Another feature, unseen but in the water, are two lava domes which occasionally have lava added to them. One, called Merriam Cone, is about 486 feet below the water surface....not high enough to be called an island yet, but......in time it will appear above the water surface like Wizard Island has.
At Merriam Point, next to Llao Rock, the road was gated closed. The remaining 2/3 of the rim road had not totally had the snow removed. So, we turned around and went back to Rim Village for a closer look at the southern overlook of the lake, and then back to the park headquarters and visitor center where we watched the video about Crater Lake. At the park headquarters we spotted one of the huge rotary snow removal vehicles which is towed behind a large tractor.
Back at the intersection of Hwy 62 and the park road, we headed south east toward Klamath Falls. Not far along the way we came to a very different sight from what we had seen near the lake. This was an area of pumice rock and ash in a valley or gorge. Below, unseen, was Annie Creek, and at the far end of the valley/gorge was Duwee Falls. We could barely see the falls from that distance. I only observed them because I was looking to see what was making the valley look foggy or dusty. We decided it was dust - pumice dust - picked up by just small breezes.
The pumice ash and rocks had filled this valley during one or more of the eruptions. It covered over the water below. The water heated up from the volcanic action below it. The water turned to steam and volcanic gases which needed an outlet at the surface. So, the steam burrowed vertical tunnels to the surface. These tunnels, called fumaroles, then hardened and fossilized. Over time, the surrounding beige pumice, through which the fumaroles had burrowed, eroded away, exposing the gray fumarole structures.