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Crater Lake - The World's Sixth National Park

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January 4, 2010

Crater Lake - The World's Sixth National Park

Craig Ackerman, (Crater Lake, Oregon), Superintendent, Crater Lake National Park. "A Crown Jewel of the United States National Park System."

According to Superintendent Ackerman, Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 as the nation and world's sixth national park. The National Park Service was established in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson. The park gets 500,000 visitors annually, even though the rim drive is closed by snow from November to June. Although the park averages 550 inches of snow a year, the road from Park Headquarters to Rim Village is kept open all year. Crater Lake Lodge is only open in summer.

The park allows cross-country skiing and has a ranger led snowshoe hiking program and a Junior Ranger program. Large mammals migrate to lower elevations during snow season, although in winter, you can see pine martens, gray jays and Clark's nutcrackers (birds related to jays).

The lake was formed 7,700 years ago after a major eruption of Mt. Mazama emptied the underlying molten magma chamber and caused the peak to cave in on itself, forming a 4,000 foot deep "caldera." There are several similar formations in the region, although none so dramatic. The bottom 1,943 feet of the caldera filled with rain and runoff water for form the lake. It is the deepest lake in North America, with Tahoe second and Canada's Great Slave Lake third. Crater Lake has a much smaller surface area per foot of depth than any of the world's other deepest lakes.

The water is pH neutral (7.0) and a benchmark for measuring climate change and pollution because it is exposed to few natural pollutants (they removed the pit toilet on Wizard Island several years ago because it was generating algae in the water). The deep blue is the result of the water's depth and purity. As you approach the shore, it becomes paler and greener