Natural Wonders: America's Deepest Lake | Florida's Sea Turtle Capital | Southeast's Living-Dead Plant
The Wonder An eruption of 12,000-foot Mt. Mazama 7,700 years ago collapsed the peak into itself, forming a nearly watertight lava-coated caldera. Centuries of 530-inch annual snowfall filled the crater with 5 trillion gallons of pristine, crystalline meltwater. Evaporation and slow seepage maintain a consistent depth of 1,943 feet, making the cobalt namesake of Oregon's Crater Lake National Park the country's deepest lake.
The Way Follow the paved path behind Crater Lake Lodge until it becomes the 3.4-mile Garfield Peak Trail. Climb along the crater's rim, with distant views of 14,162-foot Mt. Shasta, and see Phantom Ship jut from the lake's surface at mile 1.3. Gain 1,010 feet to the summit of Garfield Peak, where your height above the water roughly equals the lake's depth. Rather go for an icy swim? Take the 2.2-mile Cleetwood Cove Trail to the only swimming area on the lake. nps.gov/crla
Want more of Oregon's alpine pool? Download a GPS tracklog and see trail photos at backpacker.com/hikes/10257