Nature Notes

Volume VIII No. 2 - August, 1935

Springs In The Park
By Carl E. Dutton, Ranger-Naturalist

The springs which occur in Crater Lake National Park are individually different as to size and location but their general arrangement is shown by the accompanying sketch map. A consideration of the conditions represented will quickly reveal that four springs lie at elevations below the surface of the lake and they therefore probably represent underground outlets for the seepage which takes place from the lake.

The other springs, which lie at elevations above the surface of the lake, are principally located at the edge of catchment areas covered by pumice. These springs seem to be fed by the downward percolation of rain and melted snow through the sieve-like pumice cover until some non-porous layer diverts the water along the line of flow to the spring.

map of Crater Lake's springs

The above descriptions refer to those springs which are named as such on the topographic map of this area. There are, however, also a number of creeks whose headwaters might be considered springs since the water has a rather definite outlet and a well defined flow. The material in this article is limited so as not to include the very numerous occurrences of this type.

Boundary Springs -- The voluminous headwaters of the Rogue River gush from the hillsides along the western portion of the northern boundary of the Park. The flow of water comes from the northward facing bouldery slope of a ravine trending westward. The head of the ravine slopes northwestward from the upland surface and then turns sharply toward the west. The most remote contribution to the headwaters comes from a spring situated at the designated turn in the ravine. The stream from this source is approximately 18 inches wide and 3 inches deep. The next spring basin is located about 70 feet west of the first one and consists of two defined outlets and much disseminated seepage. The channel of this flow is four feet wide but the stream is of an intricately braided pattern because of the numerous boulders which divert and subdivide the streamlets. The combined widths of the streamlets aggregate one third to one fourth of the channel width and their average depth is four to six inches.

The most important flow to the Rogue River comes from a spring situated about 100 feet west of the second one described. The flow from this main spring is sufficient to create a stream whose dimensions are about eight feet wide by ten inches deep and whose estimated velocity was two feet per second. The channel averages 15 feet in width but is so partially blocked by boulders and logs that the water tumbles in cascades over and between the numerous obstructions which are abundantly mantled with green mosses. When the area was visited in August, the yellow monkey flower (Mimulus guttatus) was blooming profusely and because it grew among the mosses, the color combination in the vegetation was that of a yellow and green polk-a-dot pattern.

A fourth spring basin occurs about 200 feet west of the main spring just described and is the nearest one to the loop of the motor-way which terminates at this location. The stream is four feet wide and five inches deep. It flows in a separate ravine which trends eastward to join the main valley which contains the waters fleeing from the other subterranean passages.

Anna Springs -- This spring is one of the most accessible in the Park and although situated just northeast of the Checking Station, the pool has reflected the visages of few visitors. The water escapes in a natural amphitheater basin which has been landscaped by a semicircular retaining wall about 12 feet high. The slope above the basin is steep and is composed of fractured and slightly decayed rock. A pool about 20 feet long, eight feet wide, and three feet deep has been formed to serve as a reservoir but it also adds to the beauty of the spring. The water flow is mainly from beneath the north central portion of wall but some also is added from both sides of the central flow. Beyond the dam at the lower end of the pool, the flow is the beginning of Anna Creek -- three feet wide and eight inches deep -- which soon passes through a delightful valley and helps in the carving of Godfrey's Glen. The flow from this spring is of sufficient volume and velocity that it operates water-rams which supply the tap-water for this locality.

Munson Valley Spring -- These outlets of underground water are unnamed on the topographic map but since they are situated on the western slops of the designated valley, the given name will serve here. This basin furnishes the third largest flow known in the Park and is used as a supply for the Rim Village and Government Camp. The basin has the form of an amphitheater open to the south. The basin is about 100 feet wide and 60 feet deep. From its bouldery slopes, there arise five springs which occur mainly along the north and northeast base of the area. The water is tiled to a reservoir and then pumped to the storage tank on the Garfield Peak Trail. The road to the Rim passes along the open end of the basin but only the most observing person would notice the springs although the abundance of Lewis' Monkey flower (Mimulus lewisii) and the fleabane (Erigeron salsuginosus) cause many exclamations.

Cascade Springs -- This group of springs is located about 1-1/2 miles northeast of Skell Head. They are the least accessible ones visited and are unique in their arrangement. A ravine trending northwest for 100 feet, then turning due north for another 100 feet, is cut through bouldery slopes whose upper surface is covered with a pumice mantle. On the southwestern side of the ravine, there are 14 separate outlets of ground water and also many scattered areas of seepage. On the northeastern and southern sides, there are five distinct springs and also seepage. The number of springs and their occurrence on both sides of the ravine were of special interest. The stream resulting from these springs is Bear Creek which is three feet wide and four inches deep and has an estimated flow of one foot per second. The course of the stream is beautifully decorated with moss covered rocks and many blossoms of the yellow monkey flower. This area is of further interest because of an entrancing waterfall, about 20 feet high, in which the water breaks into many nebulous fluttering ribbons.

Springs within the Crater Rim -- There are a few contributions of ground water to the lake by means of springs and seepage. The greatest zone of flow occurs from The Sentinel Point area where the seepage becomes concentrated into streamlets which cascade down the steep talus slopes to the Lake. Another considerable flow comes from rock slopes about 1/4 mile east from the foot of the Trail to the Lake.

Notes on other springs in the Park -- Of the many other springs present in the Park, only a few are considered worthy of notice in this article.

Anderson Spring. Near top of Anderson Bluffs in eastern area of Park. Small flow from line of four springs along slope.

Castle Crest Spring. The largest flow in this group and irrigates the gorgeous floral display of the Wild Flower Garden.

Cold Spring. Along road to Fort Klamath, below Pole Bridge Creek. Small flow from marshy area.

East Red Cone Spring. Southeastern base of Red Cone. Two pools in pasture-like area; resulting stream again sinks into ground.

Lightning Spring. Southwest of The Watchman. Flow from bouldery slope with pumice covering upland.

Oasis Spring. Northern base of Oasis Butte in northwestern portion of Park. Flow sufficient to "boil" sand and plant remains on bottom. Bubbles rise through water when observer jumps on ground around springs.

Red Cone Spring. Northwestern base of Red Cone. Flow from base of bouldery slope with timbered upland.

Vidae Spring. Eastern slope of Vidae Ridge; unnamed on topographic map but is source of Vidae Creek; located below pumice flat.

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