Wildlife in Crater Lake National Park
But the park also boasts dense woods, sheer bluffs, surreal geological formations, and remarkable creatures such as the pika. Abounding in scientific curiosities, this landscape exerts as strong a pull on researchers as it does on tourists. You can transform a trip here from mere sightseeing to true exploration by looking at the park the way scientists do. “If you aren’t cued in on a species, you can walk right by it and not even know it’s there,” says University of Idaho pika researcher Mackenzie Jeffress. “But once you pick up that call of the pika, you’ll be amazed at how much you hear it.”
Pure Blue Water of Crater Lake
The park’s star attraction—the lake—is similarly as much a scientific wonder as a sensory one. Nearly 2,000 feet from surface to bottom, Crater is the nation’s deepest lake. With no rivers running in or out, it relies on rain and snow (and some springs) to stay filled.
Sealed off from inflow and man-made pollutants that would muddy the waters, and with its naturally low concentration of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, which helps limit the growth of algae, it’s one of the clearest lakes in the world—if not the clearest.
“It’s very pure,” says Mark Buktenica, the park’s aquatic ecologist. “Because of that purity, light penetrates really deep.” And thanks to that transparency and depth, the water absorbs every color in sunlight except blue, which scatters back to the surface and accounts for the lake’s legendary hue.