Pinnacles Overlook Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is much more than just Crater Lake. For those that want to see more than Crater Lake when visiting Crater Lake National Park, it’s definitely worthwhile driving Pinnacles Road (off of East Rim Drive) to take the new Plaikni Falls Trail to Plaikni Falls. Once done, definitely keep going down Pinnacles Road (about another 6 miles) until you reach Pinnacles Overlook:

The Pinnacles are a collection of 100-foot-tall (30-meter) spires which have been created as the canyon walls around them have eroded away. The spires are “fossil fumaroles,” each marking a spot where volcanic gas rose up through hot ash deposits, cementing the ash into solid rock.

Pinnacles Overlook at Crater Lake National Park

close-up of Pinnacles at Crater Lake National Park

view from Pinnacles Overlook at Crater Lake National Park

The history of the “pinnacles” began about 7,700 years ago when the eruptions of Mt. Mazama were reaching their climax. Torrents of red-hot, gas-charged pumice poured down Mazama’s slopes at speeds of up to 100 mph (160 kph). On top of this came a flow of heavier rocks called scoria. These glowing avalanches flooded downslope for many miles, leaving deep deposits in their wake.

Temperatures in the deposits may have exceeded 750 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Celsius). Plumes of vapors appeared, as gasses escaped from the settling rocks through vents called fumaroles. Minerals in the gasses combined with extreme heat, welded the sides of the fumaroles in the shape of slender cones. Since then, streams have eroded the canyon through the deposits, exposing the cones. Many of these fossil fumaroles are hollow.

The above photos were taken from the Pinnacles Overlook which doesn’t require any hiking at all (it’s a few feet away from the parking area). For those who want to see the Pinnacles from a variety of different angles, there is a short Pinnacles Trail hike that’s worth taking.