Here's Where To Find The Deepest Lake In The US

As a land once covered in glaciers during the Ice Age, the U.S. has quite a few deep lakes from Lake Superior to Lake Tahoe. However, the deepest lake in the United States is located in the Pacific Northwest and wasn't formed by a glacier at all, it was formed by a volcanic crater. Ringing in at a depth of 1,949 feet, Crater Lake tops the list as the deepest lake in the U.S. beating out second place, Lake Tahoe, by a whopping 300 feet (via World Atlas).


Located in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, what makes this lake so special is that it was formed in the caldera of the ancient volcano, Mount Mazama. Dormant now for over 5,000 years, Mount Mazama erupted and then collapsed in on itself creating a giant hole. This hole in the center of the mountain was then filled in over time with rainwater and melted snow to create what we know today as Crater Lake. Because it is only replenished by rain and snow, Crater Lake is one of the most pristine and clean lakes in the world with incredibly clear water that is bright aqua blue. At an elevation of over 6,000 feet, Crater Lake is also a popular travel destination for its gorgeous alpine scenery.

Are there fish in Crater Lake?

As a high-altitude lake inside a volcano, you might expect that Crater Lake doesn't contain much life. However, while this would normally be the case, Crater Lake was actually stocked with rainbow trout and salmon in the late 1800s. Plus, unlike other high-altitude cascade lakes, this lake doesn't freeze over in the winter because of the heat from the volcano below — creating the perfect environment for the introduced fish to thrive. 


So, Crater Lake is full of fish, and at this National Park, fishing is encouraged. This is because rainbow trout and salmon are not native to the area and the National Park Service wants to control their population. You don't even need a fishing license to drop a line at Crater Lake and there are no regulations concerning the size or quantity of your catches. The only fishing regulations at Crater Lake National Park are that you must be located on the shoreline and use artificial lures and bait. No live bait is allowed as it may introduce new bacteria and microbes to the ecosystem. 

Other things to do at Crater Lake National Park

Besides enjoying a quiet day fishing off the shore, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy at Crater Lake National Park. One of the most popular things to do inside this protected area is to zip around the Rim Drive loop stopping at the different viewpoints and trailheads to take in the beauty of the caldera-ringed pristine waters of the deepest lake in the United States. You can also take a boat tour, camp at the Mazama campground, take the trolley through the park, or stay at the visitor's lodge.


One important thing to know about Crater Lake National Park is that its high elevation and location at the top of the mountain mean it gets plenty of snow. In fact, according to the NPS, Crater Lake is one of the "snowiest inhabited places in the USA." Because of this, the Rim Drive loop is only open to cars in the summer, and even that depends on day-to-day conditions on the mountain. However, despite the heavy snowfall, the national park stays open year-round and simply embraces its snow-covered alpine terrain. If you like winter sports, Crater Lake is the place to go because, from autumn to spring, the Rim Drive becomes a popular spot for skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobile riding.