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The Best National and State Parks in Oregon for Cascading Waterfalls, Seaside Dunes, and Massive Fossil Beds

Condé Nast Traveler Logo By JD Shadel of Condé Nast Traveler | Slide 2 of 12: Oregon may be home to only one true national park, but Crater Lake leaves an impression that few natural sites in the American West can match. Despite its remote location hours from any major city, summer road-trippers make the journey into the wilds of southern Oregon to see the remarkably deep blue waters that fill this massive caldera—proof of an ancient volcano that violently erupted several millennia ago. Reaching nearly 2,000 feet in depth, the lake ranks as the deepest in the United States and one of the deepest in the world. The obvious spot to take it all in is Rim Drive, a scenic highway that circles the lake in a 33-mile loop. Hiking abounds in the national park, with the cliffside Discovery Point trail being an ideal starting point. The trailhead begins at Rim Village, where you’ll also find a historic lodge and visitor center. In the warmest months of the year, boat tours offer a different vantage on the lake and you can also hop on a shuttle to Wizard Island. Come winter, the park is mostly inaccessible except to snowshoers and cross-country skiers who bundle up to savor the solitude.

Crater Lake National Park

Oregon may be home to only one true national park, but Crater Lake leaves an impression that few natural sites in the American West can match. Despite its remote location hours from any major city, summer road-trippers make the journey into the wilds of southern Oregon to see the remarkably deep blue waters that fill this massive caldera—proof of an ancient volcano that violently erupted several millennia ago.

Reaching nearly 2,000 feet in depth, the lake ranks as the deepest in the United States and one of the deepest in the world. The obvious spot to take it all in is Rim Drive, a scenic highway that circles the lake in a 33-mile loop. Hiking abounds in the national park, with the cliffside Discovery Point trail being an ideal starting point. The trailhead begins at Rim Village, where you’ll also find a historic lodge and visitor center. In the warmest months of the year, boat tours offer a different vantage on the lake and you can also hop on a shuttle to Wizard Island. Come winter, the park is mostly inaccessible except to snowshoers and cross-country skiers who bundle up to savor the solitude.

© Adrian Valverde/Unsplash

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