Crater Lake Part 3


According to the Klamath (descendants of the Makalak) Indian legend, Crater Lake, Giiwas, evolved from a dispute between Skell, the spirit chief of the above-world and Llao, the spirit chief of the below-world.

image Skell is the rock to the left.

image Llao is the middle peak.

Once upon a time, Llao visited the above-world and fell in love with Skell’s daughter. He promised her eternal life if she would agree to live with him in his mountain in the below-world.

When she refused, an angry Llao rushed up through an opening in his mountain and hurled fire down onto her above-world people. Her father, Skell, retaliated and both sides hurled red hot rocks back and forth. The earth trembled and created fiery landslides forcing the above-world people to flee to Klamath Lake.

imageabove map courtesy of

Then, 2 holy men offered to sacrifice themselves by jumping into the pit of fire on top of Llao’s mountain. Inspired by their bravery, Skell gathered his strength and drove Llao back to the below-world.

At sunrise the next morning, Llao’s mountain was gone, having fallen in on him. Only a large hole remained. Rains came and filled the hole with waters, creating a lake called Giiwaas meaning, “a most sacred place.” (story from plaque in park)

The discovery of 75 sagebrush sandals buried beneath a layer of ash suggests that the Makalak Indians most likely witnessed the eruption of Mount Mazama.

image park brochure

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