About the Site
Crater Lake National Park (8)  


Park History

The Lake

The Boat

Wizard Island

The Phantom Ship

North Rim

East Rim

South Rim

West Rim

Llao Rock

Sun Notch

Mt. Scott

Park Mountains

Mt. Thielsen

Peripheral Views

Pumice Desert

The Pinnacles

Godfrey Glen

Crater Lake Lodge

Visitor Facilities


Rim Drive



Birds & Animals

Evening & Sunset


Sun Notch

One of the most beautiful places in the entire park is Sun Notch along the south rim. The notch was originally a glacial valley running down the southeast slopes of Mount Mazama which was interrupted by the collapse of the mountain.

The volcanic origins can be easily imagined by looking at the characteristic U-shaped valley in the picture below, looking across the lake at the notch. That's Applegate Peak to the west (right in the picture) of the notch. The bottom of Sun Notch is currently about 900 feet above the surface of the lake.

Glacial valleys such as Sun Notch and Kerr Notch were originally v-shaped, but the power of the glaciers which existed on the slopes of Mt. Mazama until about 10,000 years ago carved the edge of the valleys and created a shallower u-shaped canyon. The subsequent collapse of Mt. Mazama cut off the valleys and created the current "notch" on the rim of the caldera. The nature of the valley can be seen in this picture of the notch, looking north toward the lake.

The glacier which carved the valley which became Sun Notch was 1000 feet deep. It carved a large valley which now contains a valley, through which runs the Sun Notch Trail. A picture of the valley, from the trail, is shown below.

Dutton Cliff marks the east side of the valley and towers above it. Behind it is Dutton Ridge, shown from the valley in the picture below.

Another view of the ridge from the valley is shown below.

The face of Dutton Cliff can be seen from the rim of Sun Notch.

The lake rim at Sun Notch provides what are possibly the best views of the Phantom Ship. Until very late in the day, when the sun drops behind the west rim and the light disappears, a full length view of the formation is available. Of course, it is the play of light and shadow on the appearance and disappearance of the Phantom Ship which gives it its name. Very late in the afternoon, with the right light (as is seen below), the Phantom Ship almost glows in this location. On the left Mt. Thielsen can be seen in the distance.

A similar view, but at a different time of day, shows the base of Dutton Cliff and Cloudcap/Redcloud Cliff on the right.

Here's another view of the Phantom Ship which is about 300 feet in length. This island was formed by volcanic material which seeped from the floor of the caldera and hardened in something like its present shape. A vertical slab of lava of this sort is known as a "dike." Interestingly, the Phantom Ship is the oldest feature which is visible above the lake's surface.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

  • Commercial use of the images contained in this document without express written consent is strictly prohibited.

  • Comments and other remarks can be sent via e-mail to parkvision@shannontech.com