Waterfalls of Crater Lake National Park - Explore! Waterfalls of Crater Lake National Park - Explore!

Waterfalls of Crater Lake National Park

The major point of interest at Crater Lake National Park is, of course, Crater Lake. Waterfalls rarely come to mind, but there are several that offer unique glimpses into the slopes of ancient Mount Mazama. In 1935, John Eliot Allen a Ranger-Naturalist at the park described a few of the waterfalls as follows:

Vidae Falls

Vidae Falls, Crater Lake National Park

Vidae Falls

Vidae Falls, perhaps the loveliest and most accessible within the Park, may be seen from the east entrance road near the point where it crosses Sun Creek, about three miles from Government Headquarters. An easy trail also zigzags up the hill to a nearer viewpoint overlooking them. The two-hundred-foot cascade, cradled in a notch out in the grey cliff of lava, is edged with the brilliant green of the ever-moist vegetation, and overlooks a meadow and swale thronged with dog-tooth lily (Erythronium) and forget-me-not (Lappula florabunda) The cliff itself is covered with a variety of wildflowers, the bleeding hearts (Dicentra formosa), huckleberry bells (Vaccinium caespitosum), false solomon seal (Smilosina amplexicaulus), columbine (Aquilegia formosa), rock penstemon (Penstemon rupicola), service blooms (Amerlanchier florida), sulphur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum), and paint brush (Castelleja appelgatei), all being prominently displayed. For a hundred feet above the top of the main falls the stream flows steeply down in a narrow chute bordered with a thick mat of various mosses, still further above the valley levels and flattens out as a bench on the west side of the main Sun Valley.”

Sun Creek Falls

“Two other falls in Sun Creek itself may be seen further down the valley. Scarcely a quarter of a mile below the road, the stream, which is at this time of the year (Ed Note: early July) a sizable torrent, drops over a mossy ledge for perhaps twenty feet, the angular blocky face of the rock breaking into a hundred jets. Half a mile further down there is another steep drop in the stream bed, and in two hundred yards the creek falls over three hundred foot in a series of cascades.”

Falls at Government Camp

“A forty foot cascade may be found half a mile up the creek from the west end of the Government Camp (Ed Note: park headquarters) mess hall. Immediately above these falls the southward-flowing stream is nearly choked with peaty sod, and for a hundred yards it repeatedly disappears below this springy mat and then boils up again a few feet further on.  A few minutes inspection shows that the stream above the falls is bounded on the west by the wall of Munson Valley, which here is a high lava cliff, and on the east by a lower bouldery ridge parallel to the valley wall, which comes to an end at the falls and which is interpreted as an upper lateral moraine of Munson glacier. The water cascade over a minor lava ledge perhaps fifty feet high which juts out upstream from the lava cliff at an acute angle, the outer and being covered by the glacial deposit, thus effectually damming the stream and causing the level area above the falls.”

Dewie Falls

“Dewie Falls, at the head of Godfrey’s Glen, may be easily reached by the road that turns off at the east end of the bridge, just a mile above the Annie Spring junction. These cascades drop over a hundred feet into the glen, after flowing for a quarter of a mile through a narrow twenty-foot gorge, cut fifty feet down into the agglomerate rock of the area. The falls are thus unapproachable from above, and only with difficulty may they be closely approached by climbing up from the Glen, but a short trail has been built which leads down from the road to a viewpoint high above them. Dewie Falls are unique in their setting, lying deep in a gorge with walls made up of giant columns of agglomerate, and though their greatest single drop is perhaps only twenty feet, they fall a total of over five times that far. They are the result of varying resistance to wear of the rock layers, as the stream cuts its way down through the volcanic material.”

Other Waterfalls

Other waterfalls in, or immediately adjacent to Crater Lake National Park include

  • Plaikni Falls on the west slope of Anderson Bluffs, southeast of Crater Lake
  • Annie Falls just to the east of the south entrance road to the park
  • Stuart Falls in the Sky Lake Wilderness, just west of the Pacific Crest Trail and just south of the park boundary.

Our scouts will be investigating each of these waterfalls and returning with their stories and photos – stay tuned!


Except the words of John Eliot Allen, this article was written by Jerry Haugen, Pathfinder. Photo by Jerry Haugen, Pathfinder. ©2010 Global Creations LLC

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