Little Lava Lake is a jewel of a place that most locals are reluctant to advertise, and understandably so. While lakes such as Sparks Lake, Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake are closer to Bend and get the summer weekend crowds, the Lava Lakes remain off the radar of most Oregonians.
Nestled on the eastern shore of the lake and alongside the headwater outlet for the Deschutes River, Little Lava Lake Campground is a humble 15-site camper's dream. You'll have to get in early, even by Thursday evening if you want a spot along the Deschutes for the weekend. Even then you'd be lucky as this campground is operated on a first-come first-served basis and is growing in popularity. If the campground is full, head over to the adjacent Lava Lake Campground, where one of its 44 campsites are more likely to be available.
Note: The only access to the lake is via the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, which is closed during the winter months due to extensive snow pack. The highway typically opens in late June and closes in early November.