When summer rolls around, do you like to hang out at a local lake with your friends and family members? It can be so much fun to swim and splash in the refreshing waters. If you have a boat, you can also enjoy fishing or simply paddling around the lake for exercise.
In most areas of the United States, you're probably not too far away from the nearest lake. In fact, some experts estimate there are over 125,000 lakes in the U.S. Some of these may be quite small, while others, such as the Great Lakes, may seem like small seas.
There's one lake, though, that stands out amongst all the others. Its deep blue waters amaze people the first time they lay eyes upon it. Its depths extend farther than any other lake in the U.S. What are we talking about? Crater Lake, of course!
Known to some as the “Gem of the Cascades," Crater Lake consists of 21 square miles of clear, deep blue water surrounded by majestic cliffs that reach up to 2,000 feet into the sky. Located in south-central Oregon, the lake is the centerpiece of Crater Lake National Park.
So what makes Crater Lake so special? To understand its geological significance, you have to travel back in time over 7,700 years. Way back then, Crater Lake didn't exist. Instead, a large volcano named Mount Mazama stood in its place.
When Mount Mazama erupted, it spewed lava and volcanic ash for hundreds of miles in every direction. Its eruption was so violent that the volcano simply collapsed inward upon itself. This massive collapse created a humongous pit, called a caldera, which was almost 4,000 feet deep.
Over time, rainfall and snow melt from the surrounding peaks filled in the caldera, creating Crater Lake. It remains filled with water, since the rainfall and snow melt each year offsets the water that evaporates naturally.
Crater Lake is unique in that it has no rivers flowing into or out of it. With no streams to bring in sediments or chemicals to pollute the lake, the lake's waters have an astounding clarity. In fact, scientists have estimated that its waters are so clear that you can see down to a depth of well over 100 feet!
The unique geology of Crater Lake resulted in the deepest lake in the United States. Scientific measurements put its average deepest point at an astounding 1,943 feet with a maximum depth of 1,949 feet. Depending upon whether you measure average or maximum depth, Crater Lake is either the seventh or ninth deepest lake in the entire world.