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24. Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake is the centerpiece of the nation's sixth-oldest national park, the only one in Oregon.

Sights you won't want to miss while you're there — in addition to the lake, of course — are Crater Lake Lodge, the Watchman, the Old Man of the Lake, Phantom Ship, the Pinnacles, Plaikni Falls and Vidae Falls.

If you're looking for hikes, three stand out: The hike along the Discovery Trail from Rim Village to the Watchman; the hike down to the water on the Cleetwood Cove Trail (where you can take a swim if you want), and the hike to the top of Mount Scott, the highest point in the park.

At 6,000 feet above sea level, Crater Lake can be snow-shrouded into June. Once park facilities are fully open, visitors can cool off on boat rides across the 1,943-foot-deep body of water fed only by precipitation and snowmelt. Known for astonishing clarity and bluest blue you've ever seen, the country’s deepest lake formed from the massive eruption of Mount Mazama more than 7,700 years ago.

Swimming, fishing, camping, hiking, trolley tours, ranger-guided programs and other activities are offered in Crater Lake’s high season, July through September. For details, check the park’s schedule at www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm

From Medford and the Rogue Valley, take Highway 62 to the park’s south entrance at Annie Springs. Stop at the Steel Visitor Center to plan your visit, and be sure to check out the Rim Visitor Center at Rim Village, which is open daily from late May to late September, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both visitor centers contain a bookstore operated by the Crater Lake Natural History Association.

Help preserve the park at www.craterlaketrust.org.

Crater Lake National Park is Oregon's only national park. [Mail Tribune / file photo]