6 Best Sailing lakes in Oregon


Oregon is one of the best tourist destinations in the United States of America due to its valleys, mountains, coastline, high desert, and most important, lakes. It should come as no surprise that sailing lakes in Oregon are some of the most sought after.

Oregon is the ninth largest state in the USA and slightly larger than the United Kingdom. World Sailing Charters is a huge fan of sailing lakes from all over the world, Oregon especially.

Due to its vast landscapes, Oregon has numerous waterways suitable for various activities. One of the reasons why sailing in Oregon lakes is unique compared to Washington and Alaska is that boats are either freshwater or coastal.

Here are the 5 best lakes to sail in Oregon:

sailing lakes in oregon
  1. Crater Lake
  2. Diamond Lake
  3. Wallowa lake
  4. Paulina Lake, Deschutes County
  5. Crescent Lake
  6. Elk Lake

Oregon’s Lakes and Wildlife

Many of Oregon’s best lakes are formed as extinct volcanoes with altitudes of five thousand feet and above. It can be a hard tussle moving the boats to some of these lakes, but it turns out unique sailing avenues when you make it.

A pontoon boat on the lake gives you the most spectacular experience to explore the Oregon lakes. Sailors think of wind shifts and storms when sailing, especially during a sailing race competition. For some of us sailors, we want to go sailing in lakes that are not salty which is totally OK!

Crater Lake

A quick search for what a crater actually is, you’ll find the following definition:

“A large, bowl-shaped cavity in the ground or on the surface of a planet or the moon, typically one caused by an explosion or the impact of a meteorite or other celestial body.” – Oxford Languages

sailing crater lake

When it comes to Crater Lake, boating is somehow limited owing to accessibility, but you do not want to miss out on one of the most beautiful locations on planet earth. Crater lake sits on an extinct volcano and has a new born cone volcano which stands as an island and adds elegance to sailing in crater lake.

There is no need of worrying if you do not have a canoe and you want to sail. The lake was formed when Mount Mazama’s top collapsed around 7500 years ago. Visitors like exploring the two islands in the centre of Crater lake using boats. Camping at Mazama camp is fun, and sailors do not have to worry after recreation.

Activities around the lake

Enjoy more than your usual lake activities. There are rental kayaks and canoes, as well as chartered tours for your exploration. The lake is around two thousand feet deep, and therefore you do not want to make the mistake of dropping your belongings into the lake.

It is the deepest lake in the United States of America. The crater lake neither has inlets nor outlets and is fed by snow and rainwater. The lake water resembles a deep blue color due to its cleanliness and purity, making it unique for sailors.

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake’s famous Diamond Lake Resort has grown over the years from a small fishing lodge which was built in the 1920s, to a modern family resort. Visitors will be happy to know that it offers year-round service.

It is a very popular summer destination for sailors as it provides recreational activities for friends and families like fishing Rainbow trout, hiking trails, bike riding, and horseback riding. In the winter, Diamond Lake is famous for skiing, snowboarding and tubing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.

sailing diamond lake

Sailing at Diamond lake is a two for one:

All year round it is a wonderful place to take in the beauty of nature and of Crater Lake National Park.

The Diamond Lake lies near Crater Lake, and a couple of resorts sit along its shore. Though the lake had degraded some years back due to a considerable quantity of trash fish, the lake has transformed its image.

A couple of fish cleaning areas and five boat launches along the lakeshore to make your trip to the lake enjoyable. There are several boat ramps and docks at Diamond lake.

Additional activities around the lake

Besides sailing, Diamond lake is a hub of winter sports like ice skiing. Diamond Lake is popular due to the presence of rainbow trout. The neighboring forest to Diamond lake means tourists have lodging alternatives in the form of resorts and campsites.

Can you swim in Diamond Lake?

Yes! Diamond Lake’s area offers a scenic backdrop for swimmers braving its cold, refreshing waters, and anglers casting a lines from boat or shoreline.

Wallowa lake

sailing wallowa lake

Wallowa Lake lies in eastern Oregon in a region that offers an alpine experience in Oregon’s sparsely populated area. The lake was formed as a result of ice age glaciers and is a recreational venue from 1880.

Wallowa lake waters reflect the ice-capped peaks of Wallowa mountain due to the water clarity and calmness. It is a ribbon lake hiding in the Wallowa Mountains and fed by the Wallowa River.

Uniqueness of Wallowa Lake

The region where Wallowa lake is located is “little Switzerland” due to annual festivals and architectural design. The remoteness of the lake’s location makes it suitable for sailing since overcrowding is not a common feature. Tie-up docks and boat ramps are present at each end of the lake.

Wildlife in Wallowa Lake

The presence of wildlife and birds are some of the features documented that makes sailing a fantastic exercise to try. The cabin rentals around the lake are available both during the summer and winter, meaning you can pay a visit at any time you want.

The southern shore of Wallowa lake hosts a base camp for exploring this scenic region. Near the lake is the Swiss-made tram that visitors use to ascend to the top of Mount Howard. At the top of the tram, visitors can enjoy their visit to the fullest.

Paulina Lake, Deschutes County

Paulina lake derives its water from a combination of hot springs, snowmelt precipitation and rainwater, which is clean and resembles a blue color that attracts visitors to check in again.

sailing paulina lake

Paulina lake lies in central Oregon as one part of a crater lake pair in the Newberry volcanic monument in the Deschutes national forest. The lake is about twenty- five miles from Bend on the south and is six hundred and twenty hectares large.

Visitors can access a hot spring by boat on Paulina lake’s north shore, making it a wonderful sailors destination.

Paulina Lake is the home of:

  1. Rainbow Kakonee
  2. Salmon
  3. Rainbow trout

Both motorized and non-motorized can access Paulina lake. The numerous gorges, hot springs, waterfalls and camping sites lure visitors to Lake Paulina.

Crescent Lake

Crescent lake lies in the cascades and is convenient to Bend and Eugene in the Deschutes national forest. Pontoon sailors and other retreaters enjoy exploring the glacier basin. The unincorporated community of Crescent Lake Junction on Oregon Route 58 and Crescent Lake State Airport are located 2.5 miles northeast of the lake.

Beauty of Crescent Lake

The beautiful sceneries surrounding the crescent lake like wildlife, sandy beaches and clear water form the best baits for attracting sailors and other visitors to the lake.

The national forest has an immensely facilitated campground, boat rentals, and boat ramps which consequently promoting sailing at the lake.

Elk Lake

The famous Elk Lake is conveniently located about 25 miles southwest of Bend, Elk Lake. This lake in particular is home to both summer and winter activities. In 2019, Elk Lake was voted first place in central Oregon for the best child-friendly camping grounds, and in 2018 Elk Lake was also voted as the 2nd best place to have a wedding venue in Oregon!

Summertime at Elk Lake

The summer season is often voted as the best time to spend time on Elk Lake. With numerous activities to pick from (Paddle-boarding, boating, fishing, or just hanging out on the water), Elk Lake Resort has a wide variety of boating options and is perfect to sail on!

When you sail on Elk Lake, you’ll be happy to know that the scenery is to die for. Specifically, take in the most picturesque mountains and incredible landscapes.

Winter sports on Elk Lake:

Winter sports are your thing as well? Not a problem at Elk Lake where you can partake in snowshoeing, snowmobiles, ice-skating and winter trails.

Summer activities on Elk Lake:

Enjoy kayaking, fishing, swimming, boat rentals, and a variety of equipment rentals as well. Additionally, if you want to take a break from sailing, you can pick from hanging out on the Day Dock, taking a Scenic Cruise, relaxing by the Mobile Day Dock, and cruising on a pontoon.

Staying at Elk Lake

If you want to stay at Elk Lake, there are tons of available lodgings to choose from. Just take your pick from:

  • Cabins
  • Cabanas
  • Camping Cabins
  • Campsites and RVs
  • Glamping Tents

Vessels and Sailing on an Oregon Lake

Numerous water masses form natural habitats for various aquatic organisms and need to be maintained well when and after recreation. Some lakes allow fishing in Oregon, with some restrictions set in place. The vessels used in sailing are made using material that meet the set standards.

The motorized vessels are made in a design that they emit as little or no smoke at all, not to endanger aquatic life. While recreating, visitors should ensure they do not dispose of harmful material in the water. Non-degradable material like nylon bags should not find their way into the lakes. Visitors should enjoy sailing and leave the lakes without littering.

Visiting Lakes Around the United States to Sail

If you’re a sailor that enjoys sailing on beautiful lakes around the continental United States then check out our guides on the best sailing lakes in California and the best lakes to sail in Florida!

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