14 Stunning Lakes in Oregon

10 mins read
Lakes in Oregon

Oregon is one of the most geographically diverse states in the United States, with numerous rivers, streams, waterways, and lakes, including some of the country’s deepest, widest, clearest, and most spectacular lakes. Oregon has a breathtaking body of water in every corner of the state, from the clear, deep blue waters of Crater Lake to the spectacular setting of Wallowa Lake.

Oregon is a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the world. It’s a diverse state with incredible wildlife, high desert adventures, rivers, valleys, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and heavenly delicious and healthy food. According to the Oregon Water Resources Department, there are approximately 1,400 named lakes in Oregon. Oregon is undoubtedly a true wonderland in which to spend your vacations and take a break from the daily grind.

If you’re looking for a place to go hiking, swimming, or boating, there are a plethora of beautiful lakes in Oregon to satisfy your thirst for adventure. Crater Lake; Klamath County, Detroit Lake; Wallowa County, East Lake; Deschutes County, Trillium Lake; and others are just a few of the most famous lakes in Oregon.

So without a further ado, let’s take a look at the best lakes in Oregon.

Lakes in Oregon

With our list of the most popular lakes in Oregon, you can see some of the most stunning bodies of water and lakes in Oregon.

1. Crater Lake

Crater Lake
Goldberg/ Unsplash. Copyright 2022.

Crater Lake is the lake that most people think of when they think of lakes in Oregon. It is the country’s deepest lake, at 529 meters, and is well-known for its stunning royal blue-colored waters and lush surroundings. The lake was formed when the top of Mount Mazama collapsed around 7,500 years ago, and it now sits in Crater Lake National Park, attracting visitors from miles around.

There are many things to do in and around the lake, but one of the most popular activities during the summer months is taking a boat tour to the two islands in the middle of the lake. Return to shore after a brief exploration of the islands. There are also numerous hiking trails along the shores that provide different views of the water and islands, many of which make excellent photo opportunities for avid photographers.

The Wizard Summit hike will take you up a rocky climb to the top of Wizard Island, where you will be able to take in some panoramic views. After that, a 0.3-mile path will lead you around the summit’s 90-foot crater. Cleetwood Cove is the only legal access to Crater Lake’s shore, and it takes about 90 minutes to get there from the trail. Take the 4.4-mile hike up to Mount Scott, the park’s highest peak, which provides a different perspective of the lake.

Take the Sun Notch trail, which is only 0.8 miles long, if you have limited time. This short, uphill hike will take you through a meadow to the rim of Crater Lake, with great views of Phantom Ship in the distance. Castle Crest, The Pinnacles, and the 2-mile trek to Plaikni Falls are among the shorter walks around the lake.

2. Detroit Lake

Even though it is not a natural lake in Oregon, the Detroit Lake reservoir is nevertheless quite impressive. It was developed by damming the North Santiam River and reserves water for both Salen and Detroit, covering 1,400 hectares.

Detroit Lake, sixty miles east of Salem, is a huge reservoir on the North Santiam River. The Detroit Lake State Park on the northeast shore is the finest place to access this 3,500-acre lake. Boat ramps, a tourist center, and approximately 250 campsites are available in the recreation area. The campsite allows RV and tent camping, with flushing facilities and showers available to all overnight visitors. It is among the most popular lakes in Oregon.

Several more campgrounds are operated by the Willamette National Forest, which surrounds the lake. The Piety Island Campground, which is located in the center of the lake and is only accessible by boat, is possibly the most distinctive. Cove Creek Campground and Southshore Campground are two other famous Forest Service campgrounds.

3. Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake
David Kovalenko/ Unsplash. Copyright 2022.

Trillium Lake, located within the Mount Hood National Forest, is gorgeous despite being among the man-made lakes in Oregon. Because the mountain is perfectly reflected within the lake’s waters, this lake will appear in several images of Mount Hood, making it one of Oregon’s top lakes for vistas.

The short 3-kilometer hiking track around the lake should be suitable for hikers of all abilities. Fishing is another popular recreational activity near the lake, in addition to traveling the Lake Loop Trail. Throughout the summer months, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks the lake with an abundance of trout.

It is easily available by bank or boat and covers 60 acres. Many visitors come to just gaze at the rhododendron-lined shoreline and the mountain in the distance.

4. Paulina Lake

The largest of the two lakes in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Paulina Lake, is a popular place for a variety of recreational activities. It’s a requirement to get out on the water, and most people bring canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards to admire the scenery with their companions.

Many people come to this lake in Oregon for fishing, since there is plenty of Kokanee salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout, blue chub, and tui chub to be found. During the summer, Paulina Lake Lodge offers boat rentals, as well as moorage, petrol, and oil.

There is also a coffee shop here, and the employees will gladly give you recommendations for the best fishing or boating spots. There are about 150 miles of groomed snowmobile routes and many ungroomed cross-country trails available in the winter.

5. Wallowa Lake

Wallowa Lake
Adrian Smith/ Unsplash. Copyright 2022.

Wallowa Lake, among the most popular lakes in Oregon, is a popular escape with a beautiful background at the foothills of the glaciated Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon. In this sparsely populated part of the state, the entire landscape surrounding Wallowa Lake provides a distinct alpine experience.

On the southern bank of Wallowa Lake, Wallowa Lake State Park is a great place to start exploring this untamed area. Boat ramps, a campground, and a large day-use area are all available at the state park. Visit the nearby Wallowa Lake Marina for boat rentals and fishing advice from locals.

The neighboring Wallowa Lake Tramway carries guests to the summit of Mt. Howard in a Swiss-built tram. A tiny network of paths provides amazing views of the surrounding glaciers from this high vantage point, which also offers great views of the Wallowa Lake basin. The neighboring Eagle Cap Wilderness can also be reached by tram.

6. Cascade Lakes

Central Oregon’s Cascade Lakes are among the most well-known lakes in Oregon, and they’re all accessible and seen along the 66-mile Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The 12 gorgeous alpine lakes that make up the Cascade Lakes have something for everyone.

Hikers and photographers should visit Todd, Sparks, or Devils Lake, which bloom with wildflowers and offer spectacular alpine views at the start of the warmer season. Hosmer and Davis’s lakes are the most popular fishing spots, as they are both abundant with fish and perfect for fly and barbless-hook fishing. Todd Lake is the first in the chain, and Davis Lake is the last. You might spend weeks discovering everything there is to see and do at these lakes. Imagine walking or driving through an old volcanic environment dotted with glistening alpine lakes and lush woods.

Take the reins and go for a horseback ride around Todd Lake,  rent a stand-up paddleboard and explore the waters of Cultus Lake, or go for a trek around the beautiful Devil’s Lake.

Elk Lake is the most developed part of the Cascades Highway, almost to the point of being a resort. It has a lot of amenities and locations to rent SUPs. The shallow water along the shoreline is ideal for a variety of watersports.

South Sister, Bend’s most prominent peak, is undoubtedly the best walk in the area. The trek is difficult and takes 12 kilometers roundtrip, but the views from the summit are breathtaking. Take the 4-mile hike up Tumalo Mountain for a less hard hike with views of North, Middle, and South Sister, and also Mt Bachelor and Broken Top Mountain.

The Lucky Lake Trail, a 3-mile circuit that ends in a beautiful lake, is a great place to start if you’re looking for a short hike. When visiting Oregon, one of the nicest natural sceneries to see is the Cascade Lake range.

7. Lost Lake

Lost Lake
Elijah Hiett/ Unsplash. Copyright 2022.

Lost Lake, located within the Mount Hood National Forest, among the most popular lakes in Oregon, is a recreational lake with spectacular views of the mountain from nearly every position. There is no building along the shoreline, which adds to the natural beauty of the area. It’s known for having the greatest sunsets and sunrises in Oregon, attracting photographers from miles around. It is, in fact, the far more photographed lake in the state of Oregon.

Canoes, kayaks, wooden boats, metal fishing boats, and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent at the campgrounds around the lake. Hiking, with routes ranging from 1/4 mile to over 100 miles, bird viewing, berry picking, swimming, stargazing, and waterfall hunting are among the other activities available.

8. Sparks Lake

Sparks Lake is a popular day trip and weekend vacation destination in Central Oregon, located 30 miles west of Bend in the Deschutes National Forest. The magnificent Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway leads to the lake. Sparks Lake, with its 360 acres and a stunning backdrop of South Sister, offers a bustling setting to enjoy both on and off the lake.

Throughout the summer, both motorized and non-powered boats create a mild wake across Sparks Lake. However, because the speed limit is 10 miles per hour, Sparks Lake is not a good place to go water skiing or tubing. The only sort of angling permitted on the lake is fly fishing. Because of the old lava flows that impede the beach, boating is usually the most popular technique to cast a line.

Sparks Lake draws a lot of people thanks to its distinctive shoreline and other vivid Cascade Mountain characteristics. The 2.5-mile Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail is a wonderful interpretative path for exploring the natural surroundings. The trail starts near the boat ramp at Sparks Lake and winds through lava flows and lodgepole pines.

9. Upper Klamath Lake

Upper Klamath Lake is the state’s largest freshwater lake. This magnificent body of water connects the city of Klamath Falls and is a popular vacation spot in southern Oregon. The Rocky Point Resort, located on the lake’s extreme northwest arm, offers boat rentals, cabins, and a lodge restaurant.

Boating, fishing, hiking, and camping are all available at Upper Klamath Lake. All of the activities around the lake are complemented by stunning views of the Cascade Mountain backdrop. Because of the lake’s proximity to the Pacific Flyway, a plethora of species, particularly birds, frequent visits.

10. Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake, about 10 miles north of Crater Lake, is a favorite summer resort in the Umpqua National Forest of Southern Oregon. All-access roads are paved and sanded for snowy travel, making it a beautiful place to come in the winter. However, it is during the summer months that this Cascade Mountain jewel truly shines.

With a special-use permit from the Forest Service, the family-friendly Diamond Lake Resort operates near the shoreline. Cabins, suites, and studios are available for overnight accommodations at this popular vacation spot. Boat rentals, a comfortable lodge, and a restaurant, as well as various campsites, are all available on site.

In this section of Oregon, there’s enough to do. Trout are stocked in the lake by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, making it a popular fishing destination. Within the forest, there was also mile after mile of mountain biking and hiking routes. In the summer, the drive to Crater Lake’s rim is only about 16 miles.

11. Lake Billy Chinook

In eastern Oregon’s high desert region, this huge reservoir serves as a first-class recreation destination. It covers more than 70 miles of shoreline and includes the waters of the Deschutes, Crooked, and Metolius Rivers. While boating, fishing, or camping near the shore, impressive canyon walls flank much of the lake for further aesthetic appeal.

The greatest place to visit in Lake Billy Chinook is Cove Palisades State Park, which is located on the Deschutes and Crooked River portions of the lake. Over 160 campsites, ranging from full hookup RV sites to tent-only camping spaces, are available in the State Park. A boat ramp, fishing pier, and guided kayak trips are just a few of the water-based activities available at the State Park.

12. Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake
Dave Herring/ Unsplash. Copyright 2022.

Timothy Lake, located south of Mt. Hood in northern Oregon, is a popular man-made lake and recreation site. Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders all go to this aquatic attraction to take advantage of the several trails that run beside the lake.

The most popular path in the area is the 12-mile Timothy Lake Loop, which is around the lake. There are seven campgrounds along Timothy Lake’s shoreline, totaling over 200 campsites.

13. East Lake

East Lake is a 420-hectare lake and popular leisure location located in the collapsed caldera of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument within the Deschutes National Forest. East Lake, the crater’s upper of the two lakes, features lovely blue-green water and a sandy beach where tourists can relax, picnic, and swim.

The East Lake Campground, which is located at the very south end of the lake, is supplied by snowmelt and springs, has 29 campsites, a boat ramp, and a beautiful beach.

14. Waldo Lake

Waldo Lake
Nathan Anderson/ Unsplash. Copyright 2022.

In the Willamette National Forest, Waldo Lake is a treasure of the Cascade Mountains. It’s one of the largest natural lakes in Oregon, and it’s the second-deepest after Crater Lake. The water is also recognized for its cleanliness, which is attributed to the absence of inlets and fertilizer buildup. As a result, the water is extraordinarily pure, with visibility exceeding 120 feet on clear days.

Waldo Lake is among the most popular lakes in Oregon for visitors because of its beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities. On the lake, only electric motors or non-motorized crafts are permitted, with a speed limit of ten miles per hour. Because of these limitations, the lake’s surface is littered with kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards. Land activities, such as trekking in the Waldo Lake Wilderness, are also popular.

There’s no denying that the lakes in Oregon are stunningly beautiful. 

The lakes in Oregon are frequently surrounded by deep verdant forests, are watched over by towering mountains, and offer a variety of incredible adventures. If you made it to the end of the list, we’re guessing you’re planning a trip to some lakes in Oregon. Beautiful lakes in Oregon are ideal for recreational activities.

Did we miss one of your favorite lakes in Oregon? Let us know where we should go next in the comments!

We hope this article has inspired you to see some of the many lakes in Oregon!

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