Crater Lake – Oregon

Crater Lake, at 1943 feet deep, is the deepest lake in America. Because of its great depth it also appears bluer than your average lake because the sunlight has to penetrate really deep before it is reflected back to your retinas. If that isn’t enough reason to want to visit, it’s also one of the cleanest bodies of water in the country because it gets filled with pure ice melt and rain, with nowhere for the water to escape to.

Maybe I’m biased because Crater Lake is one of my favorite National Parks, but I could honestly spend a lifetime exploring there. It’s one of the more accessible parks in terms of being able to park your car and walk right up to the rim, but you can also do longer trails if you so desire. None of the trails are too strenuous either, with the possible exception of the Cleetwood Clove trail, which leads directly down to the water. It’s only open during peak season but it’s worth checking out if you want to take a dip in the icy cold water. I went swimming in the summertime when temperatures were high so it felt extremely refreshing. It’s also bizarre how clear the water is! And even from the shore, the water is still a deep blue. I have to admit it’s a little eerie because once you swim more than ten feet out from the rocks, there is an immediate 900 foot drop off below you, and I have never swam in such open water before. They say the fish in Crater Lake are unusually giant too! Luckily I didn’t see any…

Though it’s best to visit in the summer if you’re planning to hike or camp (because a lot of trails and roads are closed in the winter,) I think the lake itself is more beautiful in the snow. Since it’s pretty high up in elevation, the park gets an average of 43 feet in snow per year. And there’s something about the sharp contrast between the white of the snow and blue of the water that makes it look even more magical in the wintertime.

Location: Crater Lake