Take a dip in Central Oregon’s swimming holes this summer | Explore central Oregon


Tits shaping up to be a hot summer in central Oregon and the west. There are plenty of places to cool off, whether it’s wading in a cove or crystal clear river for fishing, or taking a hike in a shady part of the forest, but nothing beats standing. make it to your favorite swimming hole for a dip.

Everyone has their own preferences as to where the best water is to dive, and there are more than this list can contain, but here are a few of these favorites from my own youth and adulthood living in this beautiful place.

Elk Lake as seen from up close to the Little Fawn Navigation Site. The water in the lake is incredibly low, so swimmers and daily users will have to walk a little further than normal to get to the water’s edge.

Elk Lake

Not only is the lake great for kayaking and even sailing, swimming in the cool water is great for a hot day, especially since access to the beach is also very inviting.

Elk Lake has grown in popularity over the years, so finding your own piece of sandy and rocky shoreline is a priority these days, unless you’re ready to head there early. Often times you will find cars parked along the access roads and across the freeway at the trailhead trying to find a spot. If you find yourself in this situation maybe try another lake.

There are several access points for daytime use including South Beach, Little Fawn, Sunset View, and Elk Lake Resort and Marina.

Getting There : Take the SW Century Drive / Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway west for 38 miles, then turn left to reach the resort and marina, continue driving to reach the day-use areas of South Beach, Little Fawn and Sunset View (take the Hosmer Lake exit). Daily use permit of $ 5 or recreational pass required

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Floats are drifting downstream from Tumalo State Park in 2020.

Tumalo State Park

Anytime other than this summer, the waters of the Deschutes River at Tumalo State Park seem downright freezing, but right now they can be more refreshing.

With lots of big rocks to sit on and sunbathe between dips as well as large grassy areas for a picnic, there’s plenty of room to spread out. Plus, you can float down the river for a short while after hiking upstream from the park.

Cold water is quite slow in many places for the little ones, but remember there is no lifeguard and water conditions can change dramatically depending on where you are. in the river.

Getting There : From Bend, take OB Riley Road for 4 miles until you see signs for Tumalo State Park. Turn left for the day-use area, right for the campsite. $ 5 Oregon State Park day use permit required

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Scout Lake at sunset in July 2020

Lac Suttle and Lac Scout

Suttle Lake can be chilly, so weave your way through its clear blue waters.

The glacial moraine lake reaches a maximum depth of 75 feet and an average depth of 44 feet, but the shore has many pleasant sloping spots to cool off.

Close to and away from Forest Road 2066 is Little Scout Lake. Because the lake has no exit and is popular for swimmers, dogs are not allowed at the lake and you can face a $ 100 fine if you bring your pooch.

The shallow lake is generally warmer than others like this, but since it is very crowded at the lake, it is best to do your tours before the end of August and the water becomes less attractive .

Getting There : From Sisters, take US Highway 20 for 13 miles and turn left for Suttle Lake. Continue on the road around the south side of the lake for 1.2 miles, then turn left on Forest Road 2066 for half a mile, then turn right for Scout Lake. Daily use permit of $ 5 or recreational pass required

Cultus Lake

Visitors swim and cruise around the sandy beach at Cultus Lake Resort during the summer. Cultus is a popular recreation spot in the central Oregon high country.

Cultus Lake

If you have a boat, Cultus is a great place to get out and take a tour of the brilliant blue lake.

The natural glacier-formed lake is popular for both those who want to go fast and who want to go slow with good fishing for mackinaw and other trout – as well as space for jet skiing, water skiing and even boarding. sailing. The gently sloping shore in places also makes it pleasant for the little ones.

The day-use area has a beautiful and popular beach site for wading and splashing around.

If you want a quieter lake, head to the nearby Little Cultus for a shallower, less popular lake. It’s still a great place to swim, but bring bug spray.

Getting There : From Bend, drive west on Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway for 44.4 miles, then turn right on Forest Road 4635 for 3.2 miles until you reach the lake. Daily use permit of $ 5 or recreational pass required

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The crystal clear water of Lake Doris on a calm morning in August 2020.

Doris Lake

You’ll have to travel about 2.5 miles to reach it, but that makes the cool waters of Lake Doris even more special.

Take a walk along the easy Six Lakes trail passing Blow Lake (which is also nice for swimming but has less beach access), then reach Doris with an interesting rocky hill and lots of great places to reach water, and trees to hang your hammock in for a relaxing day in the woods.

The trail requires a free self-serve permit at the trailhead, but if you want to camp overnight you will need a Central Cascades Wilderness Overnight Permit.

You will need an intense DEET repellent on your visit if you don’t want mosquitoes to take you away.

Getting There : From Bend, head west on the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway for 33.5 miles, then turn right at the Six Lakes Trailhead. Park your car then drive 2.5 miles to Doris Lake.


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