The steady ascension up the roadway that leads to the volcanic rim above Crater Lake just does not prepare your senses for the first glimpse of the sparkling blue water below. “Awe” is the best adjective when confronted with a view of the deepest lake in the United States at 1949 feet for the first time. The pristine clarity of the water combined with a blue sky overhead creates the most vibrant and iridescent shade of blue imaginable.
Numerous viewpoints along the 33-mile Rim Road offer a vista of the entire circumference of the lake and ancient caldera in which it resides. Hopefully, you will be there near the day’s edge when it is calm, and overhead clouds accent the lake with a beautiful reflection. The conical shaped Wizard Island gracefully occupies the western edge of the lake and should be included in any composition. Crater Lake can be successfully photographed at night as the park is far away from city light pollution making it a celestial delight for both a stargazers and photographers. What fun!
Perhaps, the finest view of the lake is from one of the highest points along the rim, the Watchman Fire Tower Overlook. The rocky trail leading to the overlook is a moderately steep climb that covers less than a mile with over 400 feet of elevation gain. At the top is a commanding and dramatic aerial-like view of the lake and Wizard Island below. Since the trailhead is along the Rim Road and fairly short in length it is extremely popular. My advice is to dress in layers, bring a good headlamp and head up before the sun rises or stay after sunset. This will ensure both dramatic lighting, as well as avoid the crowds.
There are many great photography options outside of the lake in this remote national park, as the slopes below the rim contain an old growth forest flush with wildflowers in the height of the summer season. You will find many colorful stands of lewis monkeyflowers and indian paintbrush lining the meandering streams and waterfalls. For best results, try to photograph these areas on an overcast or rainy day or when the forest is in shade.
Though, I have not visited the park in the winter yet, it is on my bucket list as I would love to ski or snowshoe along with the rim with a fresh coat of snowfall that transforms the park into what has been described as a magical landscape. The southern road is open year- round and lodging is available at Rim Village.
I will be hosting a photography workshop that visits Crater Lake National Park in July 2017. We will start in nearby Bend for several days of photographing scenic mountain lakes and waterfalls before heading to Crater Lake for two more days of photo fun. Given the busy season, I have reserved cabins at Crater Lake for the class. http://www.chuckhaney.com/crater-lake-bend-july-13-17-2017/