A perfect paddle: Boating on Clear Lake, Oregon

Clear Lake, Oregon

Non-motorized boating bliss while fish leap and eagles fish in the shadows of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains


Clear Lake, Oregon lives up to its name. Paddling a drift boat takes some getting used to, but anyone can have a go and have a good time, including kids.


Beautiful memories of a day exploring and enjoying a unique place—right down to watching raptors fish for their lunch. Plans to come back… in our own kayaks.

Clear Lake, Oregon: Water so cold and pure… You can still see the tree trunks of what was once an ancient forest.

A lake so narrow and small… You can have a day’s full adventure on the water, yet paddle from end to end.

A place so natural and beautiful… You just might see a bald eagle swoop down and go fishing for its lunch.

For years we’ve heard about these nearly mythical waters , and were so excited to finally work this amazing place into a camping trip during the summer of 2020. Located just off Oregon’s scenic Highway 126, at 3,012 feet elevation, on the western side of the Cascades just before you cross the range, the 142-acre Clear Lake is ringed by forests and lava that helped form the lake from a volcanic eruption 3,000 years ago. Today, cutthroat trout and brook trout thrive in the lake, which can be up to 175 feet deep. However, the cold temperatures keep microbes from doing much.

The end result? Things in the lake, stay in the lake, such as the forest that was here before a lava dam formed and the water filled in the area.

Clear Lake Oregon is a perfect place for kids to get on the water in a non-motorized boat.

Managed by the US Forestry Service and part of the Willamette National Forest, Clear Lake is home to parking areas, a wee cafe, drift boat rentals, docks, and cabins that the public can rent. No motors are allowed on the water, but paddle boats such as drift boats, canoes, and kayaks are welcome.

It’s easy to make a day of being on the water. Pack snacks, a hat, beverages, and sunscreen though, so summer sun doesn’t get to you.

A highlight of our time on Clear Lake? Watching a bald eagle catch its lunch—and we even got it on video!

BONUS: From a few spots near the shore, you can look down into the turquoise water and see preserved tree trunks that are thousands of years old.

Our Clear Lake Oregon summer adventure

Working a drift boat can be tricky, but we all managed to get the hang of it (and you can see us taking turns at the oars, even the kids!). Next time we head to Clear Lake we plan to bring some kayaks though. Check out our Clear Lake adventure (and see the rest of our camper and river adventures) in the video below.

Go to Clear Lake, Oregon

Have you been to Clear Lake? What’s your bucket-list or must-return-to lake? Tell us in the comments below.

Leave a Comment