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19 Stunning Recreational Lakes near Bend, OR

Bend has dozens of fun lakes and reservoirs offering water activities like swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, boating, and of course, fishing. Many of the lakes have campsites and hiking trails, too.
ItIsWild.com: Best Lakes near Bend Oregon

For a long time, Bend’s main appeal has been its outdoors. The local lakes are incredible recreational spots offering breathtaking views and fun activities, and there are dozens of them.

Some options sit high in the mountains and can be accessed seasonally when Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway is open. Others are prairie reservoirs with a much longer season.

The majority of lakes on the list can be accessed by car, but if you want to challenge yourself with a hike, Green Lakes (#19) is the top option.

Perhaps the most famous lake near Bend is Clear Lake (#18), known for its transparent but frigid water. But you will find gems like Paulina Lake and all-can-do Cultus Lake just as impressive.

Check out what Bend has to offer!

Lakes near Bend:

  1. Crane Prairie Reservoir
  2. Todd Lake
  3. Sparks Lake
  4. Devils Lake 
  5. Elk Lake
  6. Hosmer Lake
  7. Lava Lake
  8. Cultus Lake
  9. Wickiup Reservoir
  10. Paulina Lake
  11. East Lake
  12. Ochoco Reservoir
  13. Haystack Reservoir
  14. Lake Billy Chinook
  15. Lake Simtustus
  16. Prineville Reservoir 
  17. Suttle Lake
  18. Clear Lake
  19. Green Lakes
Lakes near Bend Oregon Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Crane Prairie Reservoir

Crane Prairie Reservoir Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Crane Prairie Reservoir
  • Distance from Bend: 39 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Located approximately 40 miles southwest of Bend, Crane Prairie Reservoir honors the cranes that frequent west-central Oregon, as well as the prairie that existed in this area before the upper portions of the Deschutes River were first impounded. 

The original dam that created this reservoir took shape in 1922, with a sturdier structure replacing it in 1940. 

Recreation activities at this 3,420-acre reservoir include wildlife viewing, seasonal swimming, boating, and fishing. 

Located within Deschutes National Forest, some northward glances from higher elevations offer views of Mount Bachelor and South Sister, two mountains at the same latitude and west of Bend. 

Those who enjoy camping should consider Crane Prairie Campground, open seasonally from late May to mid-October. 

A great place to catch rainbow trout, Crane Prairie is known for the “cranebows” swimming here. The reservoir also holds the state record for large whitefish after an angler caught a 4 lb. 14 oz specimen here in 1994. 

Other fish commonly caught include largemouth bass, black crappie, brook salmon, and kokanee salmon. 

2. Todd Lake

Todd Lake in Oregon
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Todd Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 24 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Located 24 miles west and at an elevation 2,500 feet higher than Bend, Todd Lake is a popular recreation destination in Deschutes National Forest. 

Once known as “Lost Lake” – one of many lakes with that name – Todd Lake was named for John Y. Todd in 1922. Todd, a mid-19th century central Oregon pioneer, created the Farewell Bend Ranch in 1877, the location from which Bend takes its name. 

This 45-acre lake offers a summertime destination for picnicking, hiking, nature viewing, and fishing. A trail encircles the lake. 

A primitive campground offers a place near the lake for overnight stays during warmer months. Non-motorized watercraft may be used on the lake, but note that a short walk is required to get to the water.

During the winter, cross-country skiers visit this area. Those who fish at Todd Lake will find brook, rainbow, and Skamania steelhead trout. 

3. Sparks Lake

Sparks Lake near Bend and Sisters in Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Sparks Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 27 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping

Sparks Lake is a gorgeous high mountain lake near Mt Bachelor. Surrounded by towering volcanoes and bright-green meadows, this is one of the most scenic lakes on the list.

It has dispersed and designated campgrounds and a boat ramp, but that’s really it for facilities. It feels remote and wild, and with plenty of hiking trails around, it’s easy to forget life’s worries here.

Swimming, paddling, and boating are allowed at Sparks Lake. Yet, boating is limited to 10hp, and by the end of the summer, the water is barely 3 feet deep.

Sparks Lake is a fly fishing lake with a rainbow and brook trout population. It doesn’t produce large fish, but there is plenty of shore access and shallow areas. The best results are in spring when the trout is at its hungriest.

Kayaking or swimming with Mt Bachelor for a backdrop is probably the best outdoor experience near Bend. And although there are potholed roads and bugs to put up with, this adventure shouldn’t be missed.

4. Devils Lake 

Devils Lake in Cascades Oregon
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Devils Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 27 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking

A drive 27 miles west of downtown Bend and five miles west of Todd Lake, Devils Lake captivates visitors with its shallow depth and vivid turquoise color. 

Not to be confused with the 685-acre Devil’s Lake near Lincoln City, this 23-acre lake is a few steps away from a dedicated parking area along the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. This section of the Byway beyond Mount Bachelor – that includes Todd Lake as well – is closed from late fall through the spring. 

Non-motorized watercraft are permitted on Devils Lake. Guests bring kayaks and paddleboards. With an average depth of three feet and a sandy bottom, this lake would be perfect for wading or swimming if not for the chilly water temperatures. 

Devils Lake offers an easy-to-access destination that does not require hiking or significant change in elevation to reach the shoreline. 

This is the ideal summertime location to teach children how to fish in a beautiful mountainous area. Brook and rainbow trout swim in these waters. 

5. Elk Lake

Elk Lake in Oregon
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Elk Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 32 miles (40 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Sailing

Located west-southwest of Bend along the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway, Elk Lake is the next significant lakefront area after Devils Lake. 

While walking along or paddling within this 405-acre lake, visitors enjoy impressive views of mountain peaks rising above rich evergreen forests. 

A variety of accommodations are available in close proximity to Elk Lake, including Elk Lake Campground, Point Campground, and Little Fawn Campground, locations open from late May to late September.

Year-round access is available at Elk Lake Resort, situated on the lake’s western end. When the Byway closes to vehicular traffic during winter, guests arrive by snowmobile or snowcat. 

Strong winds that often blow across the open lake waters make this an excellent site for windsurfing and sailboating.

Fishing from the lake or the embankment is a popular activity. Anglers can cast a line for brook, cutthroat, and rainbow trout, as well as kokanee. 

6. Hosmer Lake

Hosmer Lake kayaking
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Hosmer Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 36 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking

A drive of approximately 35 miles from downtown Bend or a walk of a little more than a mile east of Elk Lake, Hosmer Lake is another body of water that is great to explore by canoe, kayak, or walking around its rim. 

Usually 200 acres when full, this lake’s size fluctuates seasonally. Those who want to enjoy an overnight stay can reserve a space at Mallard Marsh Campground between late May and late September. 

From Hosmer Lake, visitors have the ability to enjoy stunning views of South Sisters and Mount Bachelor. 

Peering into the clear lake waters, they can watch the rainbow trout swimming below the surface of this shallow lake. 

7. Lava Lake

Lava Lake in Oregon
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Lava Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 37 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Lava Lake and Little Lava Lake are the next substantial bodies of water along Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway as it turns toward the south. 

These lakes are approximately five miles from Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake, and nearly 40 miles south-southwest of Bend. 

Created from ancient lava flows that impounded its eastern shoreline, the 368-acre Lava Lake also includes the Lava Lake Campground, a dock on its southern shore, as well as fishing and hiking opportunities.

Most of the water that flows into Lava Lake originates from subsurface springs along the lake’s northeastern end. 

During periods of high water, this lake may temporarily connect through its small outlet channel with Little Lava Lake, a 130-acre body of water located approximately one-half mile south of its larger sibling. 

Both lakes support populations of trout, although fishing tends to be better in the larger Lava Lake. The smaller Little Lava Lake does have a claim-to-fame, however. 

Little Lava is the headwaters of the Deschutes River that flows 252 miles from this source, through Bend, and northward until it meets the Columbia River approximately 15 miles east of The Dalles. 

8. Cultus Lake

Cultus Lake in Oregon
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Cultus Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 40 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Jetskiing

A glacier-formed lake located 40 miles southwest of Bend, Cultus Lake has a reputation for nurturing large trout. 

Located a little more than a mile northwest of Crane Prairie Reservoir, this 1,146-acre lake provides access to a variety of water-based recreational activities. These include sailing, boating, waterskiing, and wakeboarding. 

Early hunters tracked down beavers along Cultus Lake as they collected furs. By the 20th century, Cultus Lake had transitioned from a fur-trapping site into a mountain lake destination where visitors can enjoy high-speed boating. 

The Cultus Lake Campground is a great place for an overnight stay before waterskiing along the lake. Alternatively, Cultus Lake Resort offers cabins and boat rentals.

9. Wickiup Reservoir

Wickiup Reservoir in Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Wickiup Reservoir
  • Distance from Bend: 51 miles (1 hr)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Jetskiing

Wickiup Reservoir is an impoundment of the Deschutes River located 50 miles southwest of Bend. 

With fewer trees and forest areas near the shoreline, this body of water offers outstanding opportunities to view wildlife when compared with Crane Prairie Reservoir and other lakes in the region. 

At 11,200 acres, Wickiup Reservoir is the second largest in the state. 

The dam that holds back this portion of the river took approximately ten years to build, entering service in 1949. 

Relatively shallow compared to other impoundments in the Pacific Northwest, this reservoir stores water for irrigation, leading to very low water levels in early fall. 

The reservoir does mix some deeper channels with areas that have warmer water, creating opportunities that allow for excellent fishing conditions. 

Both non-motorized and motorized boats are allowed, though those unfamiliar with the reservoir should exercise caution before navigating into shallow areas during the summer and fall. 

Deep snowfalls in the area may limit the ability to get to Wickiup Reservoir during winter. Whitefish, rainbow trout, and brook trout are often found here. 

10. Paulina Lake

Paulina Lake in Oregon
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Paulina Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 40 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Sailing

Paulina Lake is a 40-mile drive south of downtown Bend. Along with its smaller neighbor less than one mile to the east, East Lake, this lake falls within the Newberry Volcano’s caldera. 

Most people familiar with lakes that have formed within the remnants of a volcano have heard of Crater Lake National Park, one of America’s most spectacular destinations, and the site of Mount Mazama

Eruptions at the Newberry Volcano created the 1,532-acre Paulina Lake, the larger of the lake twins and the one that reaches a depth of 250 feet. 

The Little Crater Day Use Site and a nearby campground offer places for visitors to enjoy this cold and deep body of water. 

Guests can paddleboard, boat, kayak, canoe, and fish at Paulina Lake. An area for swimming is available, though the water remains cold well into the summer. 

Paulina Lake holds the current state record for brown trout, with one weighing 28 lbs. 5 oz., caught here in 2002. 

Other trout are found here, along with kokanee salmon. Paulina Creek flows westward from the lake into the Little Deschutes River.

11. East Lake

East Lake in Oregon in Newberry Caldera
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: East Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 43 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Similar to Paulina Lake, its larger twin to the west, East Lake derives its water from hot springs, rain, and snow melt. 

Water from East Lake also flows into Paulina Lake through pumice and lava deposits that separate these two lakes, both trace their origin to the Newberry Volcano. 

This 1,044-acre lake may have been joined to Paulina Lake at one point in time, with subsequent volcanic eruptions placing ash and lava flows between them. 

With its attractive blue-green water surrounded by a wooded shoreline, East Lake is a popular area for those who enjoy outdoor recreation. 

Boaters bring their watercraft to this lake. Fish caught in East Lake include kokanee, brown trout, rainbow trout, and Atlantic salmon.

12. Ochoco Reservoir

Ochoco Reservoir in Oregon
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Ochoco Reservoir
  • Distance from Bend: 42 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Jetskiing

Ochoco Reservoir is located 42 miles northeast of Bend. After World War I ended, crews impounded a section of Ochoco Creek and Mill Creek a few miles east of Prineville. 

The creation of this reservoir helped with flood control and irrigation in the region, though the site has also become a very popular recreation area. 

While much of the shoreline along the reservoir is in private hands, a public campground and boat launch are available on the north side of the reservoir. 

This body of water is usually at its highest level after the snow melts in spring. Due to its use for irrigation in the area, the level of the reservoir often drops below the stated capacity of 1,100 acres in the summer and fall. 

A fishing paradise throughout the year, common fish caught in this reservoir include rainbow trout, brown bullhead, black crappie, and largemouth bass. Ice fishing often takes place between December and February. 

13. Haystack Reservoir

Haystack Reservoir in Oregon
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Haystack Reservoir
  • Distance from Bend: 37 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Haystack Reservoir is located 35 miles north of Bend and eight miles south of Madras. This reservoir, created for irrigation purposes, sits within the high desert area of Central Oregon. 

Its water level fluctuates to meet the needs of nearby agricultural operations. Located in the area of the Crooked River National Grassland, it is popular with those who enjoy fishing. 

Other recreation activities in the Haystack Reservoir area include trails for hiking and mountain biking, camping, and bird and nature watching. 

Campgrounds are generally open from April until October. The Haystack Campground has paved ramps for those who wish to bring their boats to the reservoir. 

Species commonly caught include largemouth bass, trout, crappie, catfish, and kokanee. 

14. Lake Billy Chinook

Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon
Source: wikimedia/public domain
  • Website: Lake Billy Chinook
  • Distance from Bend: 44 miles (1 hr)
  • Activities: Fishing, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Swimming, Mountain Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Jetskiing

Lake Billy Chinook is a 4,000-acre reservoir near Madras. Set within the canyons of the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers, it has an entirely different look and vibe compared to the typical lakes around Bend.

The best way to access the reservoir is the Cove Palisades State Park which offers tons of amenities like cabins, developed campgrounds, boat ramps, and even hot showers. It’s a very developed and very popular state park.

Another option is Cove Palisades Resort and Marina on the lake’s eastern shore. This is a boaters paradise and a water playground like no other. 

Here you can rent party barges, pontoon boats, ski boats, and even houseboats. Plus, there are slips, ramps, and docks – everything a visitor might need on a boating weekend.

What’s more, fishing is pretty good at Lake Billy Chinook. It’s the only place in Oregon where you can legally fish for bull trout. The reservoir still holds the state record for this specie – 23 lbs 2 oz. 

Also, you can expect kokanee salmon, brown and rainbow trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and plenty more species. It’s a very diverse fishery.

Yet, Lake Billy Chinook has one significant drawback – algae. In late summer, when the water warms up, algae starts blooming in huge quantities. It provides for some spectacle but prevents swimming and water contact.

If you want to fully enjoy the lake, the best time to visit is late spring and early summer, when Cascade lakes are still frozen solid.

15. Lake Simtustus

Lake Simtustus in Oregon
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Lake Simtustus
  • Distance from Bend: 51 miles (1 hr)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Tubing, Jetskiing

A drive of approximately 50 miles north of Bend brings travelers to Lake Simtustus. This lake, alongside lands owned by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, is highly regarded as a great place to fish

Waters from the Deschutes Rivers flow through this area, creating Lake Simtustus – a 637-acre reservoir. The lake honors an American Indian warrior who lived for many years on the Warm Springs Reservation. 

The Round Butte Dam separates Lake Simtustus from Lake Billy Chinook immediately to the south and upriver. 

Unlike much of Oregon west of the Cascade Range, this section of Central Oregon has 300 or more days of sunshine each year, creating an environment that supports a variety of outdoor activities, including camping and fishing. 

The only tribal water open during the cooler winter months, Lake Simtustus has smallmouth bass, kokanee, and trout for anglers who enjoy casting their lines. 

16. Prineville Reservoir 

Prineville Reservoir in Central Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Prineville Reservoir 
  • Distance from Bend: 52 miles (1hr 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Jetskiing

Prineville Reservoir is a 3,000-acre lake on the Crooked River, east of Bend. It’s a gorgeous place known for warm water and an unbelievable night sky.

The best location to visit is Prineville Reservoir State Park on the northern shore. Like many state parks, it’s an all-in-one destination with cabins, campgrounds, boat ramps, and swimming areas.

The lake’s water levels fluctuate a lot, and if you’re planning on serious boating, it’s better to check with the park before traveling. But usually, there is plenty of water for kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. 

By the end of summer, the water temperature rises to as much as 80F, making it particularly excellent for swimming.

What’s more, Prineville Reservoir is an excellent fishery. Like Lake Billy Chinook, it has a wide variety of fish, from trout and salmon to bass and bullhead. 

Also, the lake is well-known for black crappie (bring a bucket). Although it doesn’t have any state records to its name, the variety of species means you can successfully fish year around.

Another unique point at this location is that it’s a designated International Dark Sky Park. The night sky here is unreal. If you’re into night sky photography, it’s a must-visit place.

Apart from the fluctuating water levels, there isn’t much to complain about. It’s an excellent option year-round and especially great in spring when Cascade lakes are still solid.

17. Suttle Lake

Suttle Lake near Sisters Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Suttle Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 37 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Picnics, Hiking, Biking, Camping, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing, Jetskiing

Suttle Lake is a 253-acre natural lake just 45 minutes from Bend. It’s a hugely popular recreational spot with excellent camping and water activities.

Suttle Lake has a lodge, two campgrounds, and a few day-use areas. The lodge offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals, as well as a pier, but the rest of the areas are primitive, with just boat ramps and campsites.

Suttle Lake is open for motorized boating. It’s up to 75 feet deep and just big enough for wakeboarding, water skiing, and jet skis.

Naturally, swimming is allowed at Suttle Lake, too. The water is clear and inviting but rather frigid even in the middle of summer.

And when it comes to fishing, this lake offers a self-sustaining population of brown trout and kokanee salmon; it’s not usually stocked. There are reports of 6lbs+ brownies taken from here.

Another excellent feature here is the hiking and MTB trail that loops the lake. It’s a highly-rated 3.6-mile route with stunning views over the water and a glimpse of Black Butte in the distance.

With so much going on, it’s not surprising why this lake gets so busy in summer. It’s an excellent option for lakeside campers and boaters. 

18. Clear Lake

Clear Lake near Sisters Oregon
Source: depositphotos
  • Website: Clear Lake
  • Distance from Bend: 57 miles (1hr 10min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding, Hiking, Camping, Scuba Diving

Clear Lake is a 142-acre waterhole formed as a result of a volcanic eruption just 3,000 years ago. It’s known for Caribbean-like transparent water that attracts thousands of visitors every year.

The reason for such clear water is the near-freezing temperature that prevents algae bloom. Unfortunately, it also prevents most people from taking a dip. Unless you’re scuba diving in a wet suit, swimming here is unadvisable. 

The lake has a campground and a resort with yurts and cabins. You can rent kayaks or canoes, explore the lake and see the 3,000-year-old timber still standing under the surface.

Another adventure here is the 5-mile hike around the lake. It’s fairly easy and takes you through the lava fields that once created this marvel.

As you may expect, motorized boating is prohibited to preserve its unique environment. But fishing is allowed, and it’s pretty good. Clear Lake is stocked with rainbow trout every year and also has cutthroat and brook varieties. 

Overall, it’s a natural wonder that everyone should visit at least once, it’s definitely worth the drive.

19. Green Lakes

Green Lakes in Sisters Wilderness Oregon
Source: flickr/public domain
  • Website: Green Lakes
  • Distance from Bend: 26 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Snowshoeing

Green Lakes are three gorgeous mountain lakes in Three Sisters Wilderness. This is a hike-in destination that will reward you with stunning views of South Sister and Broken Top.

The trailhead is on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, opposite Sparks Lake. Several backpacking and day routes start from here. Yet, the Green Lakes Trail is the most popular one.

The trail is about 9 miles return with about 1,200 feet in elevation gain. Normally, it’s a moderate route that most hikers can handle. However, even in early summer, the trail still has plenty of snow, making it a challenge, especially if you dare to tackle it without spikes, snowshoes, or hiking poles.

Green Lakes have dispersed and designated campsites and offer trout fishing. The biggest one – Middle Lake – has rainbow and brook varieties. 

Also, the lakes are a popular overnight stop for people climbing South Sister and Broken Top; both routes start from here.

Because of the popularity of this destination, a hiking permit is required. But the lakes are worth the hustle, and if you’re choosing just one hike near Bend, this is one of the best candidates by far.

 More Lakes in Oregon:

Hiking Trails in Oregon:

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