Plan – 06 Significance

Visitor Services Plan, Crater Lake National Park




Information concerning the significance of park resources is summarized to better identify, in broad terms, why visitor services have centered on the enjoyment of scenic beauty while also providing interpretation of the park’s natural and cultural resources. Statements about the significance of park resources were gleaned from previous planning documents and are supported by a wealth of scientific studies, technical literature, and popular accounts.

Crater Lake is one of the most famous lakes on earth, principally because of the beauty imparted by its large size, blue color, mountain setting, and ever-changing character.

Crater Lake lies in a caldera that was left by the climactic eruption of Mount Mazama more than 7,700 years ago. The circular lake, which formed in the caldera primarily from snowmelt and rain, is about 6 miles across at its widest point and covers 21 square miles. Scientists consider Crater Lake and its surroundings a model for how small calderas evolve in geologic time. This deep, pure, stable caldera lake is fully encircled by nearly 26 miles of colorful lava cliffs that rise from 500 to 2,000 feet above the surface of the water. At a depth of 1,932 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest freshwater lake in the United States and the seventh deepest lake in the world. Crater Lake holds the world record for clarity among lakes and has been the object of scientific study for more than a century. The lake is unique for the scientific research related to its pristine waters, associated geothermal activities, and unusual aquatic organisms.

The mature forests that surround Crater Lake are largely preserved in their pristine condition, and nearly 180,000 acres (98%) of the park has been recommended for wilderness designation. Most forests have never been logged and harbor a variety of plant and animal life that is characteristic of higher elevations in the Cascade Range. Because extensive alteration of forestland has taken place elsewhere in the range, some of these plants and animals are rare.

Some of the nation’s best examples of blending rustic architecture and other built features with a national park setting can be seen at Rim Village and at park headquarters in Munson Valley. This designed landscape was constructed over a 15-year period beginning in 1926. Most of the features in these two areas are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


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