Just over a hundred miles south of Bend, the blown-out shell of Mount Mazama holds the hypnotically beautiful CRATER LAKE, formed after an explosion 42 times greater than that of Mount St Helens. You won’t forget the first time you peer over the volcano rim: the biggest island on the lake, Wizard Island, is actually the tip of a still-rising cinder cone, and the so-called Phantom Ship is a jagged volcanic dyke that, in dim light or fog, resembles a mysterious clipper on the water. In its snowy isolation, the lake, at a depth of nearly 2000ft, is awe-inspiring; in summer, wild flowers bloom along its high rim.
Regular boats cruise the lake, reached via the sheer, mile-long Cleetwood Cove trail (June–Oct) which provides the only access to the lake surface (700ft down). The trail is on the north edge, but visitor facilities are clustered on the south edge at tiny Rim Village. Other activities include scuba diving (June–Sept; free permits) into the depths of the deep, blue lake.