▶️ High lakes offer cool (downright cold) respite from High Desert heat


As the heat cranks up, more and more people are escaping to the mountains to cool off.

There is relief to be had in the higher elevations where air temperatures are about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than they are on the High Desert.

But there are tradeoffs, the sun is fierce in the thin mountain air and if you aren’t in the shade, it gets hot, quick.

Predictably, lots of people are jumping in the lakes to cool off.

My first stop was Sparks Lake where the canoes, kayaks and stand up paddle boards are out in force.

How do you beat the heat when it gets this hot? What do you like to do?

“We like to go to the lakes and paddle board, swim in the creek by Tumalo,” said Mark and Ray, a couple from Bend.

“There’s a nice breeze out there,” said David Jones, Bend. “Also, you jump in every once in a while to keep cool.”

Even if you don’t get in or on the water, the air is cooler near the water’s edge.

Plus there’s views of snow capped peaks and cool green forests.

What will you do for the next several days if the heat continues?

“I may stay in my house and see if the air conditioning works,” said Nadine, from Sunriver.

You don’t know?

Well, we rarely use it. I can sit there and see the river from my patio so that may be how I stay cool.

Ten miles down the road, Elk Lake was hopping with people seeking relief from the summer heat.

Have you been in the water? How is it?

“It’s pretty cold, colder than I thought it was going to be but it makes up for the heat, so I’ll cool down,” said Drexler Dickey.

One family I spoke with said they like the heat.

They quoted Mark Twain who described the coldest winter he ever experienced was the summer he spent in San Francisco, which is where they are from.

If you are going swimming in mountain lakes and rivers remember the water can be shockingly cold. Cold enough to cause involuntary muscle spasms that make it difficult to swim or catch your breath.

Life jackets are recommended for children.

Keep a close eye on people as they swim just in case somebody needs help.


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