Crater Lake, high in the Cascade Mountains range, is Oregon’s shimmering blue gem. It’s a must-see landmark during any trip to Southern Oregon. There are two ways many people enjoy the lake, according to Craig Ackerman, Crater Lake National Park superintendent. One is to drive the 33-mile Rim Drive and stop at the many vista points overlooking the water. The other is to make the one-mile hike down a switchback trail to the water’s edge. "People who have never ventured down to the water level are really missing something special,” the superintendent says. Visitors can swim, fish, take a boat tour or just eat a trail lunch on the shores of Crater Lake. To appreciate Crater Lake, it may help to understand how it came to be. Crater Lake National Park rangers are on hand to explain the eruption of Mt. Mazama about 7,700 years ago and how the mountain collapsed, creating a 2,000-foot deep crater. The end result is a lake created solely from snow melt--there is no river flowing in. Scientists have measured the water’s clarity to as deep as 120 feet. The national park becomes a natural play land throughout the year. Heavy snowfall lingering through spring makes this a winter getaway. In the summer, hikers and cyclists take advantage.