Motors Allowed?
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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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass


Mountain views. Unique lava formations. Backcountry campsites.


Less wildlife than at other nearby Cascade lakes. Peak summer crowds.

Water Temperature

32.00 °F (0.00 °C)


Campgrounds + Campsites
Backcountry camping

Typically multi-day


Shuttle required


Site characteristics: Water


Portage required




Crowded lake in mid summer but all quiet in late summer. Perfect place to take a walk enjoying Cascades' veiw
Visited this place again last summer. Never ceases to awe and impress. Quite pristine!
BEAUTIFUL! The best part about Sparks Lake is, even though there were dozens of cars in the parking area, the lake is so huge that you feel like you have the place to yourself.
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