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Elk Lake

The 400-acre Elk Lake is one of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway’s most popular stops—with experiences geared toward day-trippers and overnight visitors alike. Best of all: Mount Bachelor and the Three Sisters dominate the horizon wherever you enjoy the lake, providing some of the area’s most scenic views.

In all, visitors can choose among several day-use areas, campgrounds, and even a year-round resort for experiencing the crystal-clear reservoir.

Elk Lake Boating Site and Little Fawn Boating Site are outfitted with boat ramps that allow motorized and non-motorized watercraft to get on the water; from there, fishing is a popular pastime on Elk Lake—which is home to a large population of brook trout and kokanee salmon. Other day-use sites along the lakeshore include Beach Picnic Area (popular for picnicking, swimming, and admiring South Sister) and Sunset View Day Use Area (where west-facing views offer pristine views of sunsets behind nearby peaks).

Overnight visitors, meanwhile, can pitch a tent or park their RV at the likes of Elk Lake Campground (where a few tent sites sit along the shore) and Point Campground. Perhaps the most popular destination is Elk Lake Resort, which hosts a variety of cabins, glamping tents, RV sites, and tent sites—along with a marina that offers boat rentals and an on-site restaurant dishing hearty pub fare. (In winter, when the highway is closed, Elk Lake Resort offers round-trip transportation via snowcat.)

Open Season

Elk Lake Resort is open year-round; Elk Lake is open late May-mid-Sept.

Dog Friendly and/or Leash Rules

Dogs are permitted in cabins, camping cabins, and campsites at Elk Lake Resort and must be leashed at all times—unless actively swimming in the lake; pets must not be left alone at any time, and there is a $25 nightly pet fee. Leashed dogs are permitted at Elk Lake Campground. The swimming areas around Elk Lake Boating Site and Elk Lake Campground are closed to dogs. Dogs are not permitted at Beach Picnic Area near the southern shore.

Best time to visit


Don’t Miss

In summer, the on-site restaurant at Elk Lake Resort serves classic American dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; it’s all excellent, but treat yourself to one of the eatery’s dishes crafted with elk meat—including chili and a burger. The lean meat brings a slightly sweeter, less gamey flavor profile to the entrée.

Fees or Pass Needed

There is no day-use fee to visit Elk Lake Resort or any of the public access points around Elk Lake; there are overnight fees to stay at Elk Lake Resort—with costs varying among the different types of lodgings—and a fee of $19-21 per night to camp at Elk Lake’s campgrounds. A Forest Pass ($5 per day pass or $30 per annual pass) or America the Beautiful pass ($80 per annual pass) is accepted at the Sunset View Day Use Area.





Paddling Water Sports

Dark Sky



Parking is available at Elk Lake Resort and at the campgrounds and day-use sites nearby; parking is especially limited, however, at Elk Lake Campground’s boat launch.


From Bend, the 31-mile drive to Elk Lake Resort (the area’s most popular destination) takes about 45 minutes via SW Century Drive, which becomes the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.

Other stories

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