Cascade Lakes, Oregon, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Oregon - Central -

Also known as:  Todd Lake, Sparks Lake, Davis Lake, Elk Lake, Devils Lake, JHosmer Lake, Lava Lake, Little Lava Lake, Custus Lake, Little Custus Lake, Crane Prairie Reservoir, North Twin Lake, South Twin Lake, Wickiup Reservoir, Crescent Lake

Whether it be a scenic day trip along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, a leisurely day hike, or a rugged back country camping trek, the Cascade Lakes of Central Oregon have something for everyone. The 66 miles of highway beginning in Bend, Oregon provide only a glimpse of the nearly 100 lakes scattered along and near the route. Most of the lakes are natural, although a few are created behind constructed dams. Official Byway websites state there are 14 lakes along the route, with no explanation as to why some lakes are included and others are not. The route is punctuated by amazing views of such Cascades peaks as South Sister, Mount Bachelor, and Broken Top.

A good introduction to the Cascade Lakes are the summaries already on the Lakelubbers’ website for Crescent Lake and Wickiup Reservoir. Some of the other featured lakes along the Byway include Todd Lake, with a short hike from the parking area to the lovely small alpine lake surrounded by meadows of wildflowers and offering walk-in campsites. Fishing is a draw here, and any motors are limited to 10 horsepower. Sparks Lake, on the other hand, allows no motors at all and is the perfect place to ply a kayak or canoe. Hosmer Lake also doesn’t allow motors and limits fishing to barbless hooks and catch-and release. It is noted for excellent bird watching.

Although some of these lakes were created by glacial gouging, others were formed when volcanic action under the glacier created small craters in the underlying rock. Davis Lake was created when a large lava flow cut off the outflow of Odell Creek. The shallow lake is noted for rainbow trout fishing and is particularly popular because there is no-limit fishing for largemouth bass. The forest surrounding Davis Lake experienced a major fire in 2000 but is recovering rapidly. Little Cultus Lake offers primitive campsites and fishing, with boats limited to 10hp motors. Devils Lake has clear waters with a white pumice bottom. Boats look as though they are floating on air!

Elk Lake holds rental cabins and rents boats and canoes. A grocery store and marina assure that water sports enthusiasts will find everything they need for a day on the water. This is one of the few area lakes that allows water skiing. Lava Lake and Little Lava Lake feature a lodge, RV campsites, a grocery store and gas, with canoes and motorized fishing boats available for rent. Cultus Lake is noted for its white sand beaches, enticing visitors with a restaurant, lodge, rental cabins, grocery store and motorized boat rentals. Several trailheads are located here for exploring the surrounding forest.

North and South Twin Lakes are nearly identical ‘volcanic maar’ lakes: lakes formed when hot volcanic gases encounter groundwater, resulting in a small explosion with the resulting crater filling with water over time. North Twin Lake has rustic camping for tent campers while South Twin Lake holds a resort with cabins, a lodge, restaurant, grocery store, laundry and showers. One of the cabins is named for President Hoover who stayed there many years ago. Visitors can rent non-motorized boats only.

Crane Prairie Reservoir is one of the few man-made lakes along the route. Built in 1922 for irrigation purposes, Crane Prairie Reservoir has a popular resort that has housed many famous guests. There are also RV sites, a grocery store and gas station. Motorized boats (up to 10hp) can be rented. The lake is known for ‘cranebows’ which are oversized rainbow trout that thrive in the waters. The lake attracts large numbers of migratory waterfowl, so it is popular among spring bird lovers. The Crane Prairie Reserve holds an excellent observation point for osprey only a short walk from the parking area. Summer viewers can watch the adult birds feeding their young.

All of these lakes and over 100 others lie within the 1.8 million acre Deschutes National Forest. With 1,400 miles of trails, the National Forest is a natural magnet for outdoor adventurers. Two of the most popular trails are the Ray Atkeson Memorial Trail and the Deschutes River Trail. Permits are required to hike the trails, and fees may be charged for parking near the trailheads, depending on length of stay. The Cascade Lakes are only the beginning of the attractions located in the Deschutes National Forest. The High Desert Museum is located in Bend and provides a number of exhibits depicting early life in the area, geological features, a Birds of Prey Center, Living History interpretation and a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities.

A visit to the Lava Lands Visitor Center farther south on Highway 97 is an absolute must for any first-time visitor. The unique, seemingly alien landscape allows visitors to see the remains of lava flows up close and marvel at the awe-inspiring power of the earth in motion. Interpretive hiking trails allow hikers to experience this landscape near the source of the lava flow at Lava Butte. The Lava Lands Visitor Center is located at the north edge of Newberry Volcanic Monument and a good first stop before exploring the larger monument. Viewing the massive obsidian flow puts the viewer in awe of the power and beauty of the volcanic landscape. Visitors can hike through Lava River Cave, a mile-long un-collapsed lava tube which remains about 40 degrees year round, or marvel at the Lava Cast Forest, a group of tree molds formed when lava flowed around trees, which then burned away, leaving the tree’s shape in the cooling lava.

One could spend weeks exploring everything the Cascade Lakes area has to offer. Besides the resort lodges and cabins at several of the lakes, fishermen and hikers can enjoy their favorite outdoor activity away from the crowded conditions found in so many recreational areas. Hike-in camping brings all the joys of ‘roughing it’ among unbroken forest landscapes beside pristine waters reflecting noted mountain peaks. In winter, nearby Mount Bachelor offers a variety of ski slopes for the alpine skier, while some of the flatter trails are perfect for cross-country skiing. The Bend area and main roads hold numerous types of lodgings including motels, guest ranches, cottage resorts and private campgrounds. Bend is a tourism-ready hot spot with plenty of restaurants, small local museums, outdoor adventure guides and vacation amenities just waiting to serve all comers. So, no matter what your plans for a Bend-area vacation, make sure to plan a visit to at least a few of the many Cascade Lakes. Maybe there’s a ‘cranebow’ in your future!

*Statistics are for Crane Prairie Reservoir only.

Things to do at Cascade Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Cascade Lakes

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Cascade Lakes Photo Gallery

  • jn9659 Deschutes National Forest OR Oregon Mount Bachelor Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway Cascade Range Lava Lakes marina

Cascade Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Surface Area: 4,940 acres

Shoreline Length: 24 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,452 feet

Average Depth: 16 feet

Maximum Depth: 20 feet

Water Volume: 55,300 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1922

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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