Situated at the base of Mount Bachelor and just south of South Sister and Broken Top, Sparks Lake is an increasingly popular destination for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, camping and hiking. Stunning views, colorful flora, and opportunities for both water and land recreation provide an ideal setting for fantastic summer days in Oregon’s high desert. Because the water depth doesn't exceed 10 feet, the lake is a safe spot for boating and swimming. Note that if you do take a dip, it may be brief, as the chilly water temperatures will wake you right up!
Sparks Lake was created approximately 10,000 years ago by a lava flow that divided the upper Deschutes River. Today the lake is part of a system of wetlands and meadows that is a healthy habitat for birds and other wildlife. The Deschutes National Forest maintains a boat ramp, a parking area, and restrooms at the northern end of the lake, as well as the 2.5 mile-long Ray Atkinson Hiking Trail that skirts the lake’s shore before running into the adjacent forest.
If you are interested in an overnight stay, consider the nearby Soda Creek Campground, operated by Hoodoo Recreation. Alternately, there are several campsites scattered along the shore for those who choose to pack or boat their gear. These sites are managed on a first-come, first-served basis, so consider an early arrival.
Visitors can expect hot temperatures in the summer and limited winter accessibility – this stretch of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway closes in October and doesn’t reopen until late Spring.