Motors Allowed?
Easy / Class A
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Disappearing Lake is an occasional feature, and that is what makes the place so special. The lake forms in the spring, with a depth of 6 to 8 feet in places. As the weather warms it quickly disappears, leaving an area known as South Prairie in its place. Forest Service botanists speculate that the lake is formed when a lava tube freezes up, damming the creek that feeds the prairie. When the ice melts, the lake water quickly recedes. 

The area's bayou-like feel makes Disappearing Lake a unique destination. Paddlers can get up close to huge cottonwood trees surrounded by water, and driftwood floats in the lake and along its shores. Lodgepole pine and aspen ring the lake along with the Douglas fir that is more commonly found throughout the area. There are many opportunities to explore the features that become lake channels, our you can wander through the lava fields that surround the lake and become filled with crystal-clear water. In the summer, South Prairie stays lush much longer than most other meadows in the area. According to the Forest Service, South Prairie is host to the largest population of a rare iris species. 

The lake is easy to reach once you know where to go, and the easiest put-in for the lake is at the junction of Forest Service roads 66 and 6610, which is marked by the Forest Service sign that for South Prairie. The road to Disappearing Lake is beautiful in its own right, as it follows an ancient Mount Adams lava flow and occasionally offers glimpses of the volcano through the trees.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Serene and beautiful. Unique forest "bayou" environment.



Water Temperature

32.00 °F (0.00 °C)


Backcountry camping
Bird watching

Typically multi-day


Shuttle required


Site characteristics: Water


Portage required



Nearby Adventures

Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington
Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Mt. Adams/Indian Heaven Wilderness/Goat Rocks, Washington
Oregon, Columbia River Gorge


Angelica, I would recommend reaching out to the Mt Adams Ranger Station in Trout Lake. You can reach them at (509) 395-3400.
Who do I contact about when the road opens?
I was there June 17th with a group from the Portland area. There was plenty of water. Finding our way through flooded bushes and floating logs into other arms of the lake was fun, though it might be slightly challenging to some paddlers because of the tight quarters and blind alleys. We saw several other paddlers but it didn't seem crowded at all. There are plenty of places to put in your boat just a bit beyond the intersection of forest roads 66 and 6610. Keep going and look for a good one. Backwoods Brewing Co. in Carson worked well for brews and pizza afterward. Now we want to come back later in the summer and see the place when the water is gone.
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