With so many water options close by, it can be tricky deciding where to spend your day. Apart from the section of the Deschutes River that runs through the center of downtown Bend (the obvious choice for those trying to leave a car out of the equation), many other options lie just a short drive away. Driving south on Century Drive on the west side of town will quickly converge into the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. A short 30-minute drive on this main arterial roadway accesses Mount Bachelor and the infamous Cascade Lakes!
One of the first and most accessible lakes along the byway is Sparks Lake. As so, Sparks Lake is one of the more popular lakes for daytime visits, yet it is never overwhelming. A bumpy 5 minute drive down the well-labeled access road on the left hand side of the highway will lead you to the often busy boat launch, which immediately opens up to a vast panorama, offering mighty and humbling views of Broken Top, the Three Sisters, and the black-diamond-laced northwest bowls of Mount Bachelor. Crowds disperse quickly in all directions as you paddle out into the crystal clear shallow waters.
A paddle right and you find yourself at the confluence of the inflowing Soda and Fall Creek; A winding maze of gently flowing stream through vibrant green marshes as some of Oregon’s highest and most condensed high cascade volcanoes loom in the background.
A paddle left and the lake splits off into several deeper arms containing several tiny lava rock islands. Here, you find yourself pleasantly encompassed by winding cliffsides and high alpine forest (and if you look hard enough, maybe a hidden campsite or 2).
It’s easy to spend the entire day losing yourself in the vast tranquility and wonderment of Sparks Lake. However, deciding to continue along the Cascade Lakes Highway will allow you access to several other lakes as well. Devil’s, Elk and Hosmer Lakes are all within a 10 minute drive of Sparks, all emitting their own display of natural Cascade beauty and tranquility.
So whether your sights are set on a day of relaxed exploration of a single Cascade Lake, or you want to hit the ground running and check off several lakes over the course of an afternoon, the Cascade Lakes Highway is the place to do just that!
Need something that floats? No worries! We have kayaks, tandems and paddleboards ready and waiting to help fulfill your day on the water. Book Online for an appointment and pick up your rental today!
Adventure is out there my friends. We’ll see you on the water!