Oregon is home to some of the most beautiful lakes in the US, offering stunning views and plenty of surface area to explore. From serene wilderness lakesides to downtown waterfronts, there is a lake for everyone. Whether you’re an experienced boater or just getting your feet wet, here are seven Oregon lakes PERFECT for boating:
- Detroit Lake
- Wallowa Lake
- Diamond Lake
- Summit Lake
- East Lake
- Paulina Lake
- Waldo Lake
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1. Detroit Lake
Detroit Lake is a popular destination located in the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains, between the small towns of Detroit and Idanha. Its stunning blue water and abundance of recreational activities make it an ideal spot for visitors year-round, especially boat enthusiasts.
This reservoir offers gorgeous views of Mount Jefferson and the surrounding Cascade Mountains with over 10,000 acres of clear blue lake water and plenty of nearby attractions to explore.
There are four boat ramps open for public use. Visitors can easily access the lake and their boat rental.
2. Wallowa Lake
Wallowa Lake is breathtaking. Located in the northeastern part of Oregon, the lake has something to offer boaters, anglers, or view chasers.
The boat ramp at Wallowa Lake State Park lets boaters launch quickly, letting you get to the fun, adventure, and exploration faster! This is also a great location for boat camping (or camping out on a boat), with plenty of space for large group activities like picnicking and hiking.
Whether you’re looking to boat around the lake or just relax by its tranquil shores, Wallowa Lake will surely provide unforgettable moments.
3. Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake is located near Crater Lake National Park but has a unique charm that sets it apart from other lakes in the area.
For starters, it’s actually boat-friendly (unlike Crater Lake, which does not permit any boats), and is a fun spot for kayaking or canoeing. It’s a quiet lake, so if you want to be one with nature, Diamond Lake will give you space. Not only this, it’s crystal clear waters offer excellent visibility for fishing or swimming.
4. Summit Lake
Summit Lake is a quick drive from Diamond Lake; you may experience what both lakes offer with a full-day boat rental.
With fantastic views of Diamond Peak, Summit Lake is the smallest lake in the three-lake sequence, but wow, it sure makes up for its small size. This lake’s water comes from snow melt or small amounts of rain, which is why the water is so pristine.
This tranquil alpine lake is surrounded by lush conifer forests, sprawling meadows, and rock outcrops.
Swimmers! The average water temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit makes it a chilling summer swim but so refreshing you won’t mind the cool water. During the warmer months, the shorelines around Summit Lake provide an excellent location to picnic, relax and take in the spectacular views of Mt. Hood. Many opt to camp on the small islands in the lake for the ultimate boating experience.
READ MORE: Top 10 Sailing Destinations to Explore in 2023
5. East Lake
Located in the Deschutes National Forest, East Lake is a spectacular boating lake. It is surrounded by thickly forested evergreen shorelines, sweeping views of mountains, sandy shores, and unforgettable cold and pristine blue-green water.
East Lake is a twin lake, sharing the area with Paulina Lake (covered below). Both lakes are ideal for boat fishing for brown trout, Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and chub.
If you’re looking for a special place to catch beautiful sunrises and sunsets and get a front-row seat to Newberry Volcano (the largest ice-age volcano in Oregon), this is your lake.
6. Paulina Lake
In beautiful central Oregon, Paulina Lake is nestled 6,331 feet up on the slopes of South Sister Mountain. It’s the largest lake in Newberry Caldera, measuring 7.5 miles at its longest point and reaching nearly 250 feet in depth. Paulina Lake covers 1,531 acres, meaning you will have plenty of lake and shoreline to explore from your boat.
The boat ramp is on the lake’s southwest side, with a convenient campground, fish cleaning station, and a few docks to enjoy. If you need a break from the boat, you can hop on one of the surrounding hiking trails, participate in fishing and watersport activities, or just relax on the sandy shore with family or friends.
7. Waldo Lake
Waldo Lake consistently comes up as one of the cleanest, clearest lakes in the United States. This is because almost all its water comes from clean snowmelt and naturally filtered spring water.
Use the Islet Boat Launch at the Waldo Day Use Area to get out on the water. This area also doubles as a designated swimming spot if you’re brave enough to face the cool waters. The 420-foot-deep lake has been recorded to have visibility up to 100 feet underwater, making it a perfect spot for some alpine snorkeling or scuba diving.
The shores of Waldo Lake are dotted with campsites too, so if you fall in love with the area (you probably will), you can stay a few nights to get the ultimate lake experience. Just make sure to plan accordingly.
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