Sometimes an Oregon adventure comes with crowds of fellow outdoor enthusiasts, but the location is so spectacular that it’s worth the unasked for company. Sparks Lake, a section of the wetlands system off the Deschutes River, is one such spot.
The lake it situated at the base of Mt. Bachelor, with views of Broken Top and South Sister on the horizon. With water levels no deeper than 10 feet, it’s a comfortable lake for canoeing, swimming, kayaking and fishing alike. The lush and colorful flora on the banks calls to campers and hikers, as well as those who simply enjoying lazing on the banks of this beautiful water feature.
Note that while the water is clean and swimmable, it’s also very chilly! You’ve been warned.
Sparks Lake is visually stunning, but due to the crowds, don’t expect to see a lot of non-avian wildlife. You’ll spot birds aplenty, as Sparks Lake is part of the intricate system of wetlands and meadows that supports bird populations of the Oregon high desert. Because of this, only non-motorized boats are permitted on the lake.
Overnighters have options, including the nearby Soda Creek Campground, operated by Hoodoo Recreation. There are also campsites around the lake available on a first-come-first-served basis. Consider arriving early if you want to nab one.
The lake, boat ramp, parking area and restroom are maintained by the Deschutes National Forest. Note that Sparks Lake has limited winter accessibility – this stretch of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway closes in October and doesn’t reopen until late spring.
Access to the lake requires a day parking pass, or a NW Forest Pass.