A Visit to Crater Lake, Oregon
Winters affect on Crater Lake
When I strapped on borrowed snow shoes at Crater Lake National Park, I laughed out loud at how much difficulty I’d have with this simplistic adventure. With multiple layers of clothing on and too-large-for-me snow pants, two steps in and I was teetering over… fortunately onto 15 feet of snow. Luckily, the winter weather doesn’t harm the forested surroundings of Crater Lake National Park as much as it hindered my ability to walk. Inhaling a deep calming breath of crisp air, our national park guide directed through our first (successful) steps on top of the snow into the wilderness surrounding America’s most beautiful lake.
The snow crunching underneath our feet was a rhythm in itself as we snow shoed single file behind our park ranger through a mixture of tall and small pine trees. He huddled us into a circle for the first of four stops to discuss the winters season impact on Crater Lake. One of the snowiest places in America, it averages over 40 feet of snow annually. A burning question of whether this wintery weather is a blessing or a burden to the area was one our guide happily explained throughout our snow shoe trek.
1. Evolution at its finest:
One of the hikers with us was asked to grab the top of a small pine tree and pull it to the ground. Surprisingly, the tree was pliable enough to bend all the way over like a slinkie. Throughout time trees that are more pliant have survived the mass snowfall. The flexibility allows them to bend to the heavy snowfall without breaking. This progression has allowed the trees to be protected by the snow instead of harmed by it.
2. The annual snow covering
The snow protects the flora from drought and in turn from fire. So, it keeps everything safe like a big blanket.
3. Seasonal animals
Surprisngly animals can thrive in this environment. Shrews, voles and pikas tunnel deep beneath the ground with the snow covering adding an extra layer of warmth overtop of them.
4. Melting Snow
As the snow melts in the warmer months it flows downstream supporting local farmers, wildlife and cities.
5. Crater Lake itself
Probably the most important, the caldera that is Crater Lake exists because of this annual snowfall. No streams or rivers feed into the lake, which is what makes it so clear and blue– zero pollution!
Finishing our snow shoe hike, behind us are the tree covered slopes, in front stunning vistas of Crater Lake. After a massive eruption almost 8,000 years ago, what used to be the Mount Mazema volcano collapsed and is now home to the cleanest body of water in the world. The deep blue waters that fill Crater Lake are the deepest, bluest, most clean and clear in the world.
Check out more images from Crater Lake, Oregon by scrolling through the pictures below!
Top TIPS for visiting Crater Lake, Oregon-
- Snow shoeing is a free activity offered in the winter months; dress warm!!
- If snow shoeing, bring some extra cash to ‘tip’ the guide; it goes back into the national parks fund
- Winter months are often dreary so be prepared for a less than stellar view (we just happened to be lucky to visit on a clear day)
- Only one road is kept open during the winter months due to the difficulty of plowing with high levels of snowfall. Summer months you can drive around the entire lake.
- Hiking & skiing can be done here! Plan ahead for the weather.
You can find some of the winter gear I use here:
Grey Beanie Pom hat: I love this hat because the inside is so soft & fluffy, plus it looks cute with almost any of my other winter gear. The exact hat is not longer available but I found a few similar items:
North Face Backpack: I’ve had this backpack for years! Its very comfortable to wear on your shoulders & I love how it’s cushioned so I feel comfortable traveling with delicate items in it. It’s also durable for outdoor activities. It doesn’t look like this color pattern is available anymore but here is the style:
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