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Volcanic Legacy Byway

The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway traverses the southern section of the great Cascade range, a chain of active volcanoes that stretch from the Canadian border to northern California.

Of the 13 potentially active volcanoes in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, 11 have erupted in the past 4,000 years and 7 in just the past 200 years. Cascades volcanoes tend to erupt explosively, and on average two eruptions occur per century--the most recent were at Mount St. Helens, Washington (1980-86), and Lassen Peak, California (1914-17).

The major volcanoes you will explore along the Byway are Crater Lake, Medicine Lake, Mount Shasta and Mount Lassen. Crater Lake, or Mount Mazama, is the least active of these has not been active for over 4000 years. The 6 mile wide caldera, which Crater Lake now fills, formed when a massive ash eruption 6,950 years ago emptied the magma chamber underneath Mount Mazama, causing it to collapse. The four thousand foot deep hole has filled with rain and snowmelt to a depth of about 1,900 feet. Seepage and evaporation now balance the incoming precipitation, and the level of the lake remains nearly constant.

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