Guide to Elk Lake by Bend, Oregon
Bend, Oregon in the summer is a veritable playground, & one of the best places to play ~ especially when it’s hot out, is Elk Lake. It’s a 40-minute drive from Bend up towards Mt. Bachelor to reach the lake, & once you’re there, you can rent paddle boards, kayaks, pontoon boats, go for a swim, take a hike, grab a bite at their cute restaurant….basically, have an all-around amazing summer’s day. I just took friends up there & taught them all how to paddle board: this is the place to learn, as the lake is so shallow! In this “Guide to Elk Lake by Bend,” we’ll get a great overview of this pretty spot & all there is to do here.
Map of Elk Lake
Quick FAQ about Elk Lake
- How Far is Elk Lake from Bend? Elk Lake is 32 miles due west from Bend, & the drive takes about 40 minutes. Take the Cascade Lakes Highway (Century Drive) up towards Mt. Bachelor; you’ll pass Todd Lake & Devils Lake. A few miles after Devils Lake, look for a sign for “Elk Lake” & turn left towards the resort & marina.
- Where to Park at Elk Lake? There are parking lots higher up from the marina, which requires a short walk ~ or many people park right along the road that leads into the resort (parallel parking).
- Are There Toilets Here? Yes! Both the resort & restaurant have bathrooms (the restaurant is very close to the marina), & there are also restrooms sprinkled throughout the campsites, which are located just south of the main resort area.
- Can You Rent Kayaks & Paddle Boards at Elk Lake? How About Boats? Yes, you can rent all of the above right at the marina. This is one of the best things about Elk Lake: it’s one of the only lakes on the Cascade Hwy that rents gear! The marina is open from 10AM-6PM, & all rentals must be returned by 6PM. In addition to kayaks & paddle boards, you can also rent pontoon boats here.
- Can You Camp at Elk Lake? Yes! There are about 20 campsites here, most of which can be reserved in advance (only a few are first-come, first-serve). Click here for more info about camping.
- Can You Stay at Elk Lake? What are the Closest Hotels to the Lake? Yes, you can stay right at Elk Lake in their rustic cabins, glamping tents (not pet-friendly), or their camp cabins. It’s not super upscale ~ more like John Candy’s “The Great Outdoors!” Check out lodging at Elk Lake here. For more upscale, try Tetherow Lodge Hotel on Century Drive, Seventh Mountain Inn, or family-friendly Sunriver.
- Can You Swim in Elk Lake? How cold is the water? Swimming in Elk Lake is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!!! I just swam there last week for about an hour, & it was truly divine. Because the lake is so shallow, the water temps here are much warmer than other nearby lakes ~ such as next-door Devils Lake, which is freezinggg. I don’t have an exact water temp for Elk Lake, but I’d guess it was in the 60’s: refreshing but lovely.
- Can You Fish at Elk Lake? Yes you can, though it’s not one of the most popular lakes for fishing; you’re most likely to catch trout here.
- Is Elk Lake Pet-Friendly? KIND OF. While we saw many dogs on the shores (by the restaurant & at campsites), dogs are discouraged from swimming in Elk Lake due to the shallowness of the water & sanitation issues. This is a bummer, because I really wanted to bring my dog paddle boarding here: but I totally get why she’s not allowed. You can bring dogs to pretty much every other lake on the Cascade Lakes Highway, which I discuss in this article.
- Can You Hike at Elk Lake? Yes. There’s a fairly flat 4.7 mile out-and-back hike on the back-side of the lake (by Bachelor) ~ get more info on it here.
- What You Need to Fully Enjoy the Lake = Bring water, drinks, some kind of inflatable/water gear like paddle boards or kayaks (even a floatie ~ you can tie it up to one of your boards!), a waterproof camera or waterproof phone case, waterproof outdoor speaker, & towels.
Photos of Elk Lake by Bend, Oregon
Elk Lake is Perfect For: Learning to paddle board & kayak, swimming, fishing, camping, renting a pontoon boat, eating/lodging (but NO DOGS in lake).
Where to Stay by Elk Lake
LOGE Bend is an amazing place for adventure-lovers to stay: it’s close to all the lakes as well as a ton of mountain bike trails. Right across from them is luxurious Tetherow Lodge Hotel, which is pet-friendly & great for golfers ~ but pricey. A great option for big groups is to rent a house in Sunriver, which is an epic destination in its own right, yet close to Bend & all its many lakes.
Guide to Elk Lake by Bend, Oregon
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on Elk Lake. If you’re more interested in nearby Devils Lake, read this article ~ & if you’re visiting either lake, don’t forget your waterproof phone case or Go Pro…believe me, you’ll want to take some epic shots of these beautiful spots!
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