Oregon is known for being a rainy state. Most think of Portland and the coast and assume the rest of the state is the same. But if you make your way to Central Oregon, all that changes. Central Oregon starts the high desert, where most of the area sits at 4,000'+ in elevation and gets over 300+ days of sunlight a year.
What we didn't expect to find in the high desert were all the various lakes that it had to offer. We didn't think it could accumulate that much water from the mild winters and less than 12" of rain a year. So when we did do some research and started exploring the local lakes, we were blown away.
Here are some of our favorites!
The Beautiful Lakes of Central Oregon
This could be my favorite lake. This emerald green lake is perfect for SUPing and kayaking. There is also tent camping and this marks the beginning of a lot of popular hikes in the area. The most popular being Three Sisters.
Todd Lake has an easy 2 mile hike around it and plenty of places to hang out for the day. Another great lake for SUPing, you can also fish here too! In the winter, this lake is only accessible via ski, snow shoe or snowmobile. There is some great back country skiing here so you will find a lot of skiers here in the winter and a calmer lake in the summer.
This is one of the lakes that you can hike to from Devil's lake, so you can get two for one. This hike is a 5 mile round trip hike with views of the Sisters and Broken Top. Always a beautiful color blue. You can camp at this lake with an overnight permit. Remember to check fire bans and camping distance from the water. This lake is also a great resting spot for those hiking the Three Sisters.
Paulina Lake is very accessible. There is car camping and a lodge with boat rentals. This lake can get very busy and so if boating is your thing, this is it. The extra fun thing about this lake is the hot springs. You have to venture out on the 7 mile loop hike, but it is relatively flat and it's beautiful with lake views, obsidians and through the forest. You may have to build up a pool, but the water is perfectly hot for tired feet or a little relaxing.
Suttle Lake ha a three mile trail around it that is perfect for the entire family. Everything starts at the Lodge, which has really cute cabins. Boats are allowed on this lake, but it still isn't big enough to get too crowded. So take the kayak or SUP board with you. In the mornings, you can get the perfect reflection for meditating, a bite to eat at the lodge and a hike to finish the day.
Other lakes to check out in Central Oregon:
Sparks Lake - This popular lake has camping all around it, but remember to check fire bans. You can SUP to some more private spots.
Green Lake - This is very popular for overnight campers. With views of Broken Top and a beautiful green lake, it makes for the perfect views during the day and amazing star gazing at night.
PERMITS: Before you are set on going to any of these lakes make sure to review the permits for each. Foot traffic, disrespectful hikers and disrespectful parking has created the need for permits. It also gives rest to the area.