Hike-in Required
Guided tours
ADA accessible
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.

Oregon’s outback is home to a wide variety of wildlife and amazing geologic features. Summer Lake is nestled in the Great Basin and is the perfect stopover for many migrating birds. Over 250 species can be found in the basin including eagles, geese, swans, hawks, herons, and ducks. It is a popular spot for bird watching as well as hunting.

Established in 1944, the Summer Lake Wildlife Area was the first of several wetland-focused wildlife areas in Oregon. The 18,941 acres are managed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Most of the refuge is accessible year round; however, sections of the 8.3-mile driving loop around the wildlife area may be closed during hunting season (October through January). It's best to visit in late spring and early summer for bird watching. The ODFW station at the site entrance is unmanned, but it is stocked with maps, bird lists, and other information about the areas. There are four campgrounds located in the wildlife area, all with vault toilets or outhouses.

The lake was named by the explore John C. Fremont in 1843 during his mapping expedition through central Oregon. For a good view of the lake and the entire valley, be sure to check out Fremont Point.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

ODFW Wildlife Area Parking Permit (daily or annual)


Beautiful views. Lots of birds.


Area closures during hunting season.

Pets allowed

Allowed with Restrictions


Bird watching
Bird watching
Bird watching
Bird watching



Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.