Garfield Peak: Crater Lake National Park

Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!

7,700 years ago,  Mount Mazama (an ancient volcano) collapsed forming Crater Lake in its caldera. The pure blue lake is the deepest in the United States and is famous for its bright blue color.  The Lake owes its intense blue color to its depth and clarity. Because the lake is so deep and clear, the longer rays of the light spectrum are absorbed while the shorter waves (the ‘BIV’ component of ‘ROYGBIV’) are reflected back as the color we see.


The awesomeness of this park is on par with that of the Grand Canyon, but not as vast. We only had a day here and managed to get in a hike to Garfield Peak, have lunch at the classic lodge, take a trolley tour around the rim and celebrate the NPS’ 100th birthday.


The Garfield Peak Trail is a 3.4 mile roundtrip, popular trail with over 1000 feet gain in elevation. The highest point is over 8000 feet, so you are already starting at a high elevation of around 7000 feet at Rim Village. It is a steep hike to gorgeous views. 


The path to Garfield Peak begins behind the historic lodge. It is steep and strenuous…a steady incline to the top. Our group was a little whiny that day, having gotten up before dawn to beat the crowds into the park. And the uphill hiking at high elevations kicked our butts. Even so, we made it there and back in two hours by taking it slow and taking breaks. It was so worth it…all along the way we were treated to the most breathtaking views.


We left at 8:00 am and had the trail to ourselves for most of the hike. It was starting to get busy when we descended. I had to watch my footing, especially on the descent…loose rock/sand makes it easy to slip and fall off a cliff or turn an ankle. I would not do this hike with young children.


There was a hawk watching us from the trees when we reached the meadow at the bottom of the trail.


Location: Crater Lake, Oregon
Designation: National Park
Date designated/established: May 22, 1902
Date of my visit: August 25, 2016