Lay of the land travel blog

The blue of Crater Lake

Wizard Island, a cinder cone volcano, in the midst of Crater Lake

The Pinnacles

A late afternoon fog descends on Crater Lake


About 5,700 B.C., at a time when agriculture was taking root in Europe and Middle East civilizations were on the rise, a mountain in what is today southern Oregon blew its top. Mt. Mazama erupted in a massive explosion that literally blew away the summit. As the ash and lava poured out, the mountain collapsed into itself, creating a crater nearly 2,000 feet deep. Over the next several centuries, snow and rain filled the crater, leaving what we know today as Crater Lake.

It is a beautiful lake situated at 6,173 feet above sea level. The water is sparkling blue. It was overcast today, so the color was not as vivid as it would have been in the sunshine. Still it is an awesome sight.

As we drove the rim road we got a different view of the lake from every angle. We also took side trips to see the pumice desert, a barren wasteland covered in pumice that flowed out of the volcano, and the Pinnacles, towers of hardened ash that line a river gorge on the side of the mountain.

We met a couple from Montville, N.J., who were traveling in a Volkswagon Westfalia van. They had rented the vehicle in British Columbia and were traveling the West Coast. I have seen numerous Volkswagon vans in Washington, Oregon and California, more than I have seen in 30 years in New Jersey. How I would love to drive one home.

Distance traveled: 0 miles

Tomorrow: Northern California



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