How to Beat the High Desert Heat

During the dog days of summer, one of your best options to beat the heat is to head up to the high lakes and splash around. But when you’re on vacation with the family sometimes all you want to do is go and relax at the pool. Luckily, Central Oregon has a handful of great places to soak up the sun in between cooling off in the water.

The Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic and Recreation Center (SHARC) is a village of water. It has indoor and outdoor pools, water slides, a lazy river, hot tubs and plenty of space for kids to splash and play. If surfing is in your past, present or future, try Mavericks indoor wave rider. You’ll emerge either soaking wet or as dry as local surfing legend Gerry Lopez (a Bend resident, by the way) riding a curl.

A relatively new addition to Sunriver Resort is The Cove. The indoor/outdoor swimming and recreation facility has a giant zero-entry pool and hot tub, private cabanas, a waterslide, nature discovery area, lakeside trails and a spacious deck and lawn. Need a bite to eat? The Spotted Frog serves poolside beverages and fare.

Right in the middle of Bend, the Juniper Swim and Fitness Center is a cool water oasis that offers a 50-meter outdoor pool (domed in winter for four-season use) and its indoor 25-meter pool. There’s a fun little water recreation park outside too with shallow water and lots of fun features for the kids, including a water slide that’s open to big kids too.

After you drag the kids from antique shop to antique shop in downtown Redmond, reward them with an hour or so at the splash park on the corner of Evergreen and 7th. It’s the perfect place to let the kids run around to cool off – and there’s a coffee hut on site so you can refuel for the rest of your day’s adventures.

Black Butte Ranch opened a lakeside pool a few years ago with a year-round outdoor hot tub and new rec center. The pool offers outside dining and poolside service with a nearby playground. As far as views go, you can’t get any better than this when lounging poolside.

If you’re looking for a little more adrenaline rush while cooling off, Sun Country Tours offers the famous Big Eddy Thriller whitewater trip for families in addition to other rafting adventures. Ouzel Outfitters also provides guided excursions including half/full day trips, multi-day trips or custom adventures tailored to you and your family.

Want to chill out a bit more while staying cool? Head up to the high lakes. Elk Lake Resort has a restaurant, camping, rental canoes, boats and more for you to get out on the water. You can also rent a stand-up paddleboard in town at Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe and take it up to Sparks Lake – Outside Magazine named Central Oregon the top spot for SUPing in the world! South of Bend, check out Paulina Lake Lodge in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Other stories

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

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