Crater Lake is a twenty-square-mile body of water located in southern Oregon. You can swim in Crater Lake even though it lies in a volcanic basin. The lake is the primary feature of Crater Lake National Park and since it is on government land, there are certain rules for swimming in Crater Lake.
In this article, we’ll review the legal access points to Crater Lake for swimming, whether the waters are safe for swimming, and what potential dangers there might be to swimming in Crater Lake.
Where Can You Access Crater Lake To Swim?
There are two different spots where swimming is allowed in Crater Lake – Cleetwood Cove and Wizard Island. The Cleetwood Cove Trail is a two-mile trail located on the north shore of Crater Lake. It begins at about 7000 feet elevation and zigzags to drop about 800 feet into the caldera lake that usually opens in mid to late June.
There is also swimming allowed around Wizard’s Island located off the western shore of Crater Lake. The island can only be accessed by boat tours. Both swimming access points do not have traditional beachfront but consist of rocky shores.
And, you’ll be glad to know that the deepest point in Crater Lake is 1949 feet deep which makes it the deepest lake in the United States and the 9th deepest lake in the world[source].
What Swimming Activities Are Not Allowed In Crater Lake?
In the areas where swimming is allowed, swimmers must only wear traditional swimsuits. After a review of threats to the lake’s native aquatic species in 2012, the Park Service decided to ban long-distance swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
The use of any gear that might encourage the introduction of invasive species into Crater Lake is strictly prohibited.
Is Crater Lake Safe To Swim In?
Crater Lake is very safe to swim in and poses no dangers from toxicity or water quality issues. Crater Lake is one of the clearest and cleanest bodies of water in the world. The lake has no inlet of water from streams or rivers which normally carry sediment that obscures the water’s clarity.
Crater Lake’s water is solely composed of snow and rain. Even the lakebed doesn’t have sediment kicked up because the volcanic rock cannot be worn away by the cold waters. So there is no agricultural runoff or chemical input to affect Crater Lake’s water quality making it very safe to swim in.
What Are the Dangers of Swimming In Crater Lake?
There is no threat to health from toxins in the waters of Crater Lake but there may be a danger from the temperatures. Although Crater Lake lies in a volcanic basin and there is evidence of hydrothermal springs in certain spots of the lakebed, the temperature of the water rarely rises above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) in the summer.
If you stay in cold temperature waters for too long, you could run the risk of developing hypothermia even in the middle of summer. Colder water temperatures can affect your breathing and cause undue strain on the body. The recommended amount of time to stay in water temperatures typical of the range displayed in the summertime in Crater Lake is approximately 30 minutes.
Crater Lake in southern Oregon is an excellent place to swim. It is located in a national park so there are rules regarding swimming. The only two legal access points for swimming in Crater Lake are via Wizard’s Island and Cleetwood Cove Trail. Only standard swimsuits are permitted in the lake as additional gear such as used in snorkeling or scuba diving could introduce unwanted aquatic species.
Crater Lake’s waters are the cleanest in the country with no threat of toxins or chemical health hazards. Although caution should be taken to avoid hypothermia as the waters of Crater Lake stays cold even in the summer.
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