If you’ve been aching for a vacation that allows you and your little adventurers to explore new lands and brave the wilds, then you are in luck. Less than three hour drive away, near the crest of the Cascade Range, Suttle Lake awaits. Located in the Deschutes National Forest, this stunning high desert location offers Portland families the opportunity to boat, hike, fish, swim and do oh so much more in a place that looks and feels nothing like home. Read on to find how to get there and where to stay, adventure and play.

photo: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife via flickr

Go

Imagine spending a weekend, or the better part of a week, with your tribe fishing, boating, hiking and swimming in the beautiful Deschutes National Forest. Central Oregon and its high desert landscape strikes a strong contrast to what we find here in, or right outside of Portland, and its only an easy 2.5 to 3-mile drive away.

Getting There
Take I5 S to exit 253 for OR-22/OR-99 toward Detroit Lake/Bend and drive for about 80 miles. Take a slight left onto US-20 for 12 miles and the sign for Suttle Lake will be on your right. Follow the winding road to either Suttle Lake Lodge or campgrounds.

photo: Allison M. via Yelp

Stay

There are plenty of options when it comes to finding the right accommodations for your clan at Suttle Lake. If you love to explore the wild with out spending the night in it, Suttle Lodge has a variety of offerings. If roughing it is your family’s style then campgrounds it is!

Suttle Lodge
Recently renovated, this lodge has 11 rooms, a meeting room and a cocktail lounge that is affectionately referred to as skip. The lounge and lodge rooms well appointed and cozy with modern furnishings and stone fireplaces.

When booking a room at the main lodge there are four deluxe lodge suites, four standard guest suites, two lofted guest suites and one ADA-compliant guest suite to choose from. The Deluxe suites and the ADA_Compliant room sleep two and the rest sleep up to four people. The main lodge has electricity, forced air heating and running water.

The Cabins
Suttle lake lodge also provides cabins for rent. Your crew can choose from five waterfront cabins that sleep between four to six people at a time. There’s even a cabin that has a private dock, perfect for jumping off of when the temps are at their highest. An assortment of rustic cabins are available that—while they share a communal bathroom and lack a kitchen—sleep up to six.

Bonus: both the lodge and cabins are pet friendly.

Suttle Lodge
13300 US-20, Sisters, Or.
Cost: starting at $125/night
online: thesuttlelodge.com

Camping
There are several campgrounds located around Suttle Lake. South Shore Campground offers both beach front and hillside spots. Each site has a gravel parking spur, picnic table and campfire area. Drinking spigots and vaulted toilets are available. There is also a boat launch in this area.

South Shore Camping
Hwy 20. 10 miles southeast of the Santiam Summit of the Cascades.
Cost: Starting at $18/night
online: recreation.gov/camping/south-shore


photo: wakiwon via flikr

Play

The possibilities for fun at Suttle Lake are endless. You can rent boats, kayaks, canoes and SUPs at Suttle Lodge’s boat house and spend your days paddling around the lake. Swimming is possible once the temps rise and the lake water offers a brisk opportunity for young water lovers.

Fishing
If you have an angler in the family, you will be pleased to know that Suttle Lake is open to fishing year-round. The lake is home to kokanee and trout and casting from the shore is possible in some areas, but boat fishing is where it’s at. Motorized and non-motorized boats are allowed on the lake.

Hiking
There is plenty of hiking near and around Suttle Lake. If you are looking for a fun trail that is appropriate for all ages, then the Suttle Lake Loop Trail is perfect. This 3.6 mile loop is appropriate for all skill levels and gives hikers amazing views of the lake and Mt. Washington on a clear day. You’ll make your way through trees and camping areas and you will even cross over a beautiful foot bridge. There are plenty of areas where you can rest and restrooms are located on each end of the loop.


photo: by Annette Benedetti

Insiders Tip: If your troop loves to swim, Scout Lake is located less that two miles up the road from Suttle Lodge. It is relatively shallow and the water is a comfortable temperature by late May or early June—and downright warm by mid-summer. Your kids will love it, and so will you.

Eat

You can grab breakfast, lunch and dinner at The Boathouse at the lodge. Their menu is impressive and includes steamed egg sandwiches, buttermilk pancakes, hot dogs, burgers, salmon rolls and more. If you are in need of a beverage. They serve coffee in the morning and soda and Bloody Marys in the afternoon and evening.

The lodge also has a cocktail bar and menu that offers pizzas, hot sandwiches and fun drinks like the Frozen Pump, Drake on the Lake and Lodge Nog (for when ya get cold.)

If you don’t feel like eating out, The Boathouse sells groceries and other provisions as well.

Insider tip: there is minimal cell service and limited Wifi. When you stay at Suttle Lake you get a unique opportunity to unplug and be present with your family. If there is an emergency, data pops up the closer you walk towards the highway.

What is your family’s go-to Oregon lake? Share it with us in the comments below.

—Annette Benedetti