Motors Allowed?
Easy / Class A
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Several lakes in the area could have been named Lava Lake, for the name also describes a process of lake formation.  The formation of this subalpine lake, like many of the others in the Oregon Cascade Lakes area, was created in the aftereffect of lava flows from nearby Mount Bachelor, South Sister and other much less recognized cones, altering the drainage of this roughly 40-mile long by 20-mile wide basin.  The lava flow on its eastern shoreline is the same that isolated it from Little Lava Lake.

Drift boaters and paddlers will enjoy this lake not only for its serenity (it receives far fewer visitors than the lakes to the north) and its stunning views of the neighboring Cascades, but also because of its stocks of reputably large rainbow and brook trout.  These fish species commonly grow to up to 24 and 19 inches respectively.  The lake also holds indigenous whitefish and illegally stocked tui chub (a food source for trout).  During the colder months, most of the fish tend to congregate near the middle of the lake in deeper waters, but as the summer warms the water they tend to troll the shallow waters around the lake's shore.  Check in with one of the local fly shops to get a sense for what the trout are bitting on.

On the south side of the lake, visitors will be welcomed by Lava Lake Resort, a modest and rustic establishment that has been owned by the same family for over 20 years.  There's a general store where you'll be able to pick up those last minute provisions for s'mores, rent a boat for an hour or two, and even run a load of laundry for those making an extended stay.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Large open lake. Mountain vistas.


Few inlets to explore.


Picnic tables

Site characteristics: Water


Portage required




A perfect place to spend a summer day and evening.
Had a beautiful weekend in Central Oregon. Lava Lake isn't too far from Bend/Sunriver and the views are great. The blue heron was a nice surprise.
Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.