Crater Lake in Oregon is considered to be one of the most breathtaking places in the United States. It is the deepest lake in the nation, and its waters are described as unnaturally blue and crystal clear. But despite the beauty of the lake and surrounding park, there are several creepy Crater Lake tales floating around, involving everything from ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot, and a giant lake monster to unsettling accounts of disappearances and murders.
Here are 12 of the weird things that have happened at Crater Lake.
Supernatural occurrences aside, Crater Lake has a rather extensive history of accidental deaths, suicides, and even murders. In some cases, the bodies are irretrievable, lost in inaccessible wooded areas. This has resulted in more than a handful of skeletons cropping up over the years.
Finn J.D. John of Off Beat Oregon details a few of these incidents, such as the story of a WWII fighter pilot who crashed in the park shortly after the end of the conflict, only to have his skull discovered 30 years later by a park ranger who got lost looking for the plane's wreckage.
There have been numerous UFO sightings in the area throughout the years, including an infamous case from the '90s. From the website UFO Info: "On Tuesday, February 4, 1997, at 6:15 p.m., a private pilot flying south of Diamond Lake Junction, Oregon (population 150), east of Crater Lake National Park, saw 'three discs' speeding across the dark sky, pursued by 'several jet interceptors.'"
There were also reports of a sonic boom later that same evening, one so massive it set off car alarms all over the area.
Crater Lake formed from volcanic activity ages ago. While the volcano itself has long been silent, allowing the park to become a popular tourist destination, there are remnants of its former fiery self still bubbling below the surface.
This became apparent in 1945 when the lake began "burping up... bluish-gray clouds of smoke or gas that mushroomed over the lake several times from September to December," according to Kernan Turner from a 2009 public radio broadcast. Though these gas clouds were initially a mystery to spectators, in the 1980s, scientists discovered hydrothermal vents at the bottom of Crater Lake.
This discovery, combined with several earthquakes that rocked park residents in the 1990s, suggests that the Crater Lake volcano might not be totally inactive.
The Klamath people, indigenous to the area, hold Crater Lake sacred. They see it as the crossroads between the Spirit of Above, called Skell, and the Spirit of Below, called Llao, a fiery and dark figure - basically, the Devil.
According to Andrea Lankford, author of Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales and Trails from North America's National Parks:
... Llao ripped Skell's heart from his chest, and Skell retaliated by dismembering Llao and throwing the body parts into the lake. Hideous monsters gobbled up everything but Llao's head, but the lake still holds Llao's spirit. When stirred, he may brew up storm clouds. When angered, he may appear in the form of a giant crayfish that climbs up out of the lake, snatches people off of the rim of the crater that surrounds the lake, and drags them down into the water.