best boating lakes in oregon

Best Boating Lakes in Oregon: Top 7 Beaver State Spots

Known for its wild, wild west history (both in terms of film and heritage), its incredibly large Llama population, breweries, ghost town horrors, and a bunch of other unique and quirky stuff, the Beaver State is also home to the most serene and peaceful lakes and rivers. If you would like to know more about the best boating lakes in Oregon, then this guide will come in handy.

Here's a rundown of popular and notable boating lakes and destinations in Oregon, as well as the activities and services offered.

Our Most Recommended Boating Lakes and Destinations in Oregon

1. Crater Lake

crater lake

Crater Lake, as the name clearly suggests, is a volcanic crater lake (formed as a result of a past volcanic eruption) that is touted to be the deepest lake that can be found in North America.

Among its international lake peers, Crater Lake ranks ninth in terms of maximum depth (approximately 1950 feet) and third in terms of average depth (approximately 1,150 feet).

This lake is arguably the best and most popular lake hailing from the state of Oregon, with a lot of activities to experience and services to avail of, including the following:

  • Cultural tours
  • Hiking treks
  • Custom tours
  • State parks
  • Nightlife
  • Fine dining
  • Wizard Island
  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Fishing

Due to the nature of the natural creation of this lake, there are actually no reported native fish species to be found in its waters. However, in the late 1880s, a total of six fish species were introduced to the ecosystem. Unfortunately, only two populations flourished, namely rainbow trout and sockeye salmon.

2. Timothy Lake

timothy lake

Located roughly 50 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon, the Timothy Lake Dam was engineered by Portland General Electric in the year 1956 to temper water flow to Lake Harriet.

It has a reported surface area of roughly 2.17 square miles and a maximum depth of approximately 80 feet (average depth: 45 feet).

This simple and affordable destination has the following facilities, activities, and amenities:

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Picnicking
  • Horseback riding
  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Nature treks
  • Kayaking

Considered to be one of the best crayfish fishing locations in the state of Oregon, Timothy Lake also houses the following fish species:

  • Kokanee salmon
  • Rainbow trout
  • Eastern brook

3. Emigrant Lake

emigrant lake.

Located on the southern side of Rogue Valley (southwestern Oregon), the Emigrant Lake is a reservoir accomplished in the year 1924 for the purposes of irrigation and flood control.

This lake has a surface area of roughly 800 acres and an estimated surface elevation of 2,240 feet.

Emigrant Lake hosts various recreational and lodging experiences such as the following:

  • RV rental
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Playgrounds
  • Water slides
  • Skiing
  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Nature tours

A lot of fish species live in Emigrant Lake, but the most notable catches that can be done in this destination are the following:

  • Smallmouth bass
  • Largemouth bass
  • Black crappie
  • Rainbow trout
  • Bluegill
  • Bullhead catfish
  • Yellow perch

4. Elk Lake

elk lake

With a wonderful, clear view of the volcanic peaks known as the Three Sisters, Elk Lake is a natural lake found in the central Cascade Range in the State of Oregon.

This lake has a surface area of approximately 400 acres and a maximum depth of roughly 60 feet.

There are a lot of facilities and experiences to enjoy in Elk Lake, including the following:

  • Restaurants
  • Marina rentals
  • Cabins
  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Butterfly gardens
  • Museums
  • Picnicking
  • Watersports

In terms of fish species and other aquatic fauna, the lake supports several, including the following:

  • Brook trout
  • Kokanee salmon
  • Yellow perch
  • Northern pike
  • Black crappie
  • Walleye
  • Smallmouth bass

5. Diamond Lake

diamond lake

Diamond Lake, known to several locals as Oregon’s Gem of the Cascades, is a naturally occurring body of water found in the southern part of the region.

This lake has a surface area measurement of roughly 3,000 acres, a maximum depth of 52.5 feet, and an average depth of approximately 24 feet.

In terms of recreational activities, Diamond Lake is known for the following:

  • Fishing
  • Horseback riding
  • Hunting
  • Swimming
  • Boating
  • Dining
  • Skiing
  • Sled dog racing
  • Camping
  • Lodging

Several angler fishermen swear by this lake, particularly near the Silent Creek part of the region, for its abundance of catchable fish, including the following:

  • Lake sturgeon
  • Rainbow trout
  • Paddlefish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Bluegill
  • Striped bass
  • Northern pike
  • Rock bass
  • Walleye

6. Paulina Lake

paulina lake

One of the twin crater lakes (the other being the smaller East Lake) found in the Newberry Crater of Central Oregon, the Paulina Lake is a serene naturally occurring body of water that sports a name as endearing as the experience of visiting the destination itself.

The lake has a reported surface area of approximately 1,500 acres and a maximum depth of 250 feet.

Some individuals have claimed this lake to be a recreational wonderland, regardless of season, for being capable of offering the following facilities and recreational activities:

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Hiking treks
  • Mountain bike trails
  • Camping
  • Hot springs
  • Waterfalls
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dining
  • Lodging

There are a handful of fish species found in Paulina Lake, but the two most prominent ones (for which the Paulina Lake holds the state records for in terms of largest size caught) are kokanee salmon and brown trout.

7. Wallowa Lake

wallowa lake

Wallowa Lake is the only ribbon lake (a long, deep, finger-shaped lake) to make it to our most recommended list of lake destinations in the state of Oregon. Its creation is primarily attributed to Pleistocene glaciers (at least 11,000 years ago).

The lake has an alleged surface area of roughly 1,500 acres and an average depth of 161 feet.

There are several amenities and tour-worthy locations within and around Wallowa Lake, including the following:

  • Wilderness parks
  • State parks
  • Hiking trails
  • Horseback ranches
  • Watersport areas

The notable fish species in Wallowa Lake include the following:

  • Sockeye salmon
  • Lake trout
  • Bull trout
  • Rainbow trout

Conclusion

Aside from the wonderful rivers, falls, creeks, and man-made bodies of water, the best boating lakes in Oregon are truly awe-inspiring, arousing the interest of our nature-loving side. If you and your family or friends are planning a trip bound for the Beaver State, make sure to keep this guide in mind if you plan to experience a pleasant boating and fishing trip.

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