12 Deep Facts About Crater Lake National Park

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iStock

If you aspire to be one of about 500,000 people who trek to Crater Lake National Park each year, chances are you'll try to spot its strikingly blue lake during one of just three or four months when there isn’t snow on the ground. But the area has more than liquid assets. Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park’s 183,224 acres are filled with evergreens, old-growth forests, and volcano remnants. Here are 15 more highlights from Oregon’s only national park.

1. THE PARK’S NAMESAKE FEATURE WAS FORMED FROM A COLLAPSED VOLCANO.

The basin that eventually became Crater Lake formed when a 12,000-foot-tall volcano called Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed 7,700 years ago. The volcanic basin, called a caldera, eventually filled with water and became the lake that we know today.

2. CRATER LAKE IS THE DEEPEST LAKE IN THE U.S.

Bottoming out at 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America. (For some perspective, if you placed New York City's One World Trade Center at Crater Lake’s deepest part, there would still be 151 feet of water above the tower’s highest point.) The body of water also ranks as the ninth deepest lake internationally.

3. THE AREA WAS ONCE REVERED BY THE KLAMATH PEOPLE.

Long before it became a national park, the Klamaths and other Native American tribes considered the lake to be a spiritual place; only those who possessed great wisdom and strength could view it. Llao Rock, which rises nearly 2,000 feet above the lake’s surface, is named after one of the Spirit Chiefs that the Klamath believed created Crater Lake.

4. A CHILDHOOD DREAM LED TO IT BEING DESIGNATED AS A NATIONAL PARK.

In 1870, a child in Kansas named William Gladstone Steel read about Crater Lake in a newspaper. He vowed to visit the lake one day, and finally did in 1885. Steel then made it his mission to have Crater Lake named as a national park, which finally happened on May 22, 1902.

5. THERE ARE NO STREAMS FLOWING IN OR OUT OF THE LAKE.

The water level is maintained only by precipitation, evaporation, and seepage, which helps to explain the water’s clarity and extremely blue appearance. In fact, when white explorers discovered the area in 1853, that’s exactly what they called the pristine body of water: Deep Blue Lake.

6. SNOW COVERS THE PARK FOR EIGHT MONTHS OF THE YEAR.

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The park is snow-covered from October through June, but with an average annual snowfall of 44 feet, snow can stick around into July. Although it’s cold enough for flakes to fly, the lake itself doesn’t completely freeze over. The last time the surface was completely frozen was 1949, though it came close to a total freeze in 1985.

7. THERE IS A SHIP-SHAPED ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE.

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Known as Phantom Ship, the island is an ancient rock formation resembling a large, abandoned sea vessel standing 170 feet above the water.

8. A DESERT OF PUMICE STRETCHES ACROSS THE NORTHERN PART OF THE PARK.

The eruption of Mount Mazama shot astronomical amounts of ash skyward, and helped create the park’s Pumice Desert, approximately 50 feet deep, following the eruption. The desert is porous and cannot sustain much plant life, though what does exist there is rugged enough to endure the landscape.

9. THERE IS ALSO A PUMICE CASTLE ON THE GROUNDS.

If a pumice desert isn’t enough volcanic rock for you, then perhaps a castle will do the trick. The park’s Pumice Castle is a bright, rust-colored pumice outcropping on the eastern wall of the caldera.

10. THE PARK'S PINNACLES, A COLLECTION OF NEEDLE-LIKE ROCK FORMATIONS, WERE REVEALED AFTER YEARS OF EROSION.

The tall, skinny forms rising above the Sand Creek Canyon once acted as vents for steam and gas that swirled below the canyon’s surface. The rising heat solidified the ash into the towering pumice figures that stand at over 50 feet.

11. WIZARD ISLAND ISN'T MAGICAL.

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Don't expect to find Harry Potter on the island. Named for its resemblance to a sorcerer’s hat, Wizard Island is the top of a cinder cone volcano within Crater Lake. Boat tours of the lake include a stop at the island to let visitors get a closer look at the 800-year-old trees growing there.

12. A HEMLOCK HAS BEEN FLOATING UPRIGHT IN THE LAKE FOR OVER A CENTURY.

When people talk about the Old Man of the Lake, they aren’t disrespecting their elders; they’re talking about Crater Lake’s 30-foot-tall floating hemlock. Visitors can try to spot the four-foot section that rises above the lake as the wind currents slowly move it along.

Meet the Exclusive Travel Club for People Who Have Been to 100 or More Countries

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iStock.com/PeopleImages

There are about 195 countries in the world—depending on how you define “country”—and most people have only visited a handful of them. However, for those with the means to travel far and wide, there’s one club that unites these wanderlust-stricken souls.

According to Lonely Planet, an exclusive organization called the Travelers’ Century Club only accepts members who have been to 100 or more countries and territories. The non-profit social club is headquartered in Los Angeles but has more than 20 chapters in the U.S., Canada, UK, Mediterranean, and Central Europe.

A few avid travelers founded the club back in 1954, and within six years it had attracted 43 members. Now, the club boasts about 1500 members, whose collective travels would put most casual vacationers to shame.

The club’s slogan is “World travel: the passport to peace through understanding,” and its mission falls in line with this ethos. Travelers’ Century Club board member Gloria McCoy tells Lonely Planet their members “seek to truly experience and appreciate the people and cultures around the world.”

By holding regular social events, inviting guest speakers, and offering presentations about different destinations, the club gives members the chance to learn about other parts of the world they might not have considered visiting. Members also have access to files containing “exclusive info” about far-flung and hard-to-visit destinations, all of which were written by club members who have personally been there and done that. Lastly, the club is a way for members to connect with like-minded people and perhaps even find new travel buddies.

The club’s official list of countries and territories visited totals 327. This is partly because it includes territories that aren’t always considered countries by the international community, such as Tibet, Taiwan, and Palestine. To join, members must fill out an application form and select the countries they’ve been to—even if they were just short trips or layovers. There's a $100 initiation fee, plus yearly dues.

If you aren't quite there yet, travelers who have been to 50 countries and territories can qualify as provisional members. This gives them access to meetings and some of the “bragging rights” that Travelers’ Century Club members get to enjoy.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

Inside the Coldest City in the World, Where It Snows 270 Days a Year

iStock.com/Alexander Mozgovets
iStock.com/Alexander Mozgovets

In much of the Northern Hemisphere right now, it’s getting colder and darker and the winter blues are setting in. But few places get it quite as bad as Norilsk, Russia, where residents won’t see a sunrise until mid-January. Worse yet, it's arguably the coldest city in the world.

One of two Siberian cities built in the continuous permafrost zone, during the winter, the city of more than 175,000 people can see cold snaps as brutally low as -78°F. Overall, Norilsk boasts a yearlong average temperature of just 14°F. (Some will argue that the Siberian city of Yakutsk is colder, but that depends on how you want to slice it: Yakutsk is indisputably chillier in the winter—an average temperature of -42°F in January!—but it has much hotter summers and so, when measured by its yearly average, is warmer overall.)

Then there's the snow. Norilsk “is covered with snow for about 270 days a year,” Vincze Miklós writes for io9, “and the inhabitants must deal with snowstorms one day out of every three.”

It's also incredibly isolated. Of all the cities in the world with populations of 100,000 people or more, Norilsk is the farthest north. Despite its relatively large size, no roads lead to it. The city, located 1800 miles from Moscow, sits 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle and can only be reached by plane or boat. Surrounded by thousands of miles of untouched wilderness, Norilsk is so cut off from the rest of the world that residents often refer to the rest of Russia as “the mainland.”

The city, we should stress, is on the mainland.

Despite it all, Norilsk is a relatively buzzing place. The city has public transportation, bars, cafes, churches, art galleries, a large theater, and plenty of modern amenities. And new people keep moving in.

The reason? Money.

Norilsk sits on one of the world’s biggest nickel, platinum, and palladium deposits, making it, according to the New York Times, Russia's richest city.

For much of the 20th century, those precious metals were mined by more than 600,000 prisoners detained in a nearby gulag. Today, the gulag is gone, and the people who work for the mines are paid rather handsomely for their work. With palladium selling for over $1000 an ounce, the metals extracted and smelted in the area—largely by one company, Norilsk Nickel—account for a whopping 2 percent of Russia’s entire GDP.

But there is a price to pay to live in Norilsk, and it has nothing to do with the cold. Mining has also made the city one of the most polluted places on the planet. According to National Geographic, “The amount of sulfur dioxide in the air is so high that vegetation in an almost 20-mile radius has died, and residents are forbidden from gathering berries or mushrooms due to high toxicity.” (That's a big deal, given that mushroom-hunting is one of Russia’s most beloved national pastimes.) Recently, mining activity caused the nearby Daldykan river to turn blood red. According to the Times, “At one point, the company belched more sulfur dioxide a year than all of France.”

Most residents are aware of the possible health consequences but don’t raise much of a fuss. "Norilsk Nickel feels like it owns the whole territory here," a citizen tells Victoria Fiore in her short documentary My Deadly Beautiful City, "so [people] are afraid to speak out against it." Their livelihood, after all, depends on the mine's success.

And besides, many people in Norilsk—a significant number of whom are descended from the prison laborers who helped build everything in this city—feel deeply connected to the isolated landscape they call home.

"It's beautiful and eternal," one man tells Fiore. "This is where I like to be."

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