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Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Despite its stunning natural beauty, Oregon has only one national park. The shell of Mount Mazama holds the deep, blue, resoundingly beautiful Crater Lake, formed after the violent eruption of a volcano approximately 7700 years ago. The biggest island on the lake, Wizard Island, is actually the tip of a cinder cone.
In its snowy isolation, the lake, at a depth of nearly two thousand feet, is awe-inspiring; in summers, too, it is spectacular. Visitors may navigate the 33-mile Rim Drive around the lake, stay in the historic Crater Lake Lodge, or camp at Mazama Village. Regular boats cruise the lake, reached via the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which provides the only access to the lakeshore. The visitor facilities are clustered on the south at Rim Village.
The most popular, though still strenuous, hike is up Garfield Peak, an 8,000 ft mountain that offers a tremendous view of the lake and is particularly striking in the winter. More adventurous hikers can explore the marginally better views offered by the park's tallest mountain, Mount Scott, rising to almost 9,000 ft.
You need a car to get to the park, though only the southern roads are open year-round. The northern roads are closed from October to June, as is the spectacular, 33 mile "Rim Drive" around the crater's edge. Visitors can join park rangers for in-depth presentations of various topics relating to the natural and cultural history of Crater Lake.