Paddle Boarding in Oregon
When you talk about the best places to go stand up paddle boarding in the US, there might be a lot of debate, but there is never a conversation without mentioning Oregon. Recently, Bend, Oregon was voted the Best SUP Getaway by Outside Magazine.
Bend, Oregon (located in central Oregon) is packed with a variety of prime paddle boarding destinations – from the iconic Deschutes river, to easily-accessible pristine lakes and surf-able whitewater parks. The scenic landscape really amps up these unique paddling experiences with towering Ponderosa pines and the magnificent volcanic mountains of the Cascade Range.
We narrowed down the multitude of paddle board spots to the top 5 Central Oregon SUP destinations.
1) Elk Lake
A short 30-minute drive up Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway gets you to Bend’s summer playground of Elk Lake. This lake wins over the crowd thanks to its great beaches, epic views and the amenities at Elk Lake Resort.
The hallmark of the lake is the incredible views of towering Mt. Bachelor and South Sister, which are especially epic if you get out on your paddle board for the morning and evening glass off. This isn’t the place to go if you’re looking to get away from it all, but it is the go-to place for meeting fun like-minded locals and visitors.
- In the Summer Elk Lake Resort features free live music every Saturday night
- Tons of ragged coastline with little inlets and coves to explore
- Lakeside camping is available at the first-come, first-serve campgrounds
2) The Deschutes River
The Deschutes River gently flows north through Central Oregon toward the Columbia River. The temperate river features plenty of opportunities for scenic paddle boarding. A good starting point is at Drake Park right in heart of downtown Bend where there is a slow moving current upstream past gorgeous riverfront houses and parks. Be sure to check out the new Bend Whitewater Park featuring a standing wave.
Another popular stretch of the Deschutes extends from Riverbend Park downstream along the Old Mill District and the outdoor Les Schwab Amphitheater (plan your paddle to catch some live music). Then, you can head back upstream for solitude and instant immersion in Central Oregon’s high desert landscape.
- Plenty of fantastic take off spots that have a calm current and beautiful scenery
- Paddle along the Old Mill District and the outdoor Les Schwab Amphitheatre to catch some live music
- Experience Oregon’s high desert landscape when paddling upstream
3) East Lake At Newberry National Volcanic Monument
East Lake is located in Newberry National Volcanic Monument just 30 minutes south of Bend. A $10 access fee gets you into the Monument which is home to the Newberry Volcano—the largest volcano in the Cascade Range. You will also find waterfalls, lava caves, hiking, mountain biking trails, and two major lakes—East Lake and Paulina Lake.
East Lake is a little further into the park and a bit quieter. It encompasses 6,371 feet and has a depth of 185 feet surrounded by breathtaking forests and plenty of sandy beaches.
- Well known for its fishing (perfect for SUP fishing)
- Easy access to take off points
- Campgrounds wrap around the south and east shores (plan ahead and book in advance because campsites tend to sell out)
4) Devil’s Lake
Although relatively small, Devil’s Lake packs a vast experience. The draw is obvious from the breathtaking crystal-clear turquoise water set off by the white pumice bottom. Central Oregon’s volcanic geography figures prominently on the east end of the lake where an ancient lava flow of black volcanic rock towers overhead.
As you paddle across the lake, plentiful rainbow and brook trout are visible in the clear waters and eagles sightings are common overhead. Despite the relatively shallow waters—the depth maxes out at ten feet—the water stays extremely cool throughout the hot summers. Mount your GoPro or bring a waterproof case for your camera—you’re definitely going to want to snap some pics of Devil’s Lake. Be aware that parking can be a challenge as the lot acts as the trailhead for the popular Three Sisters Mountain summit.
- Notorious paddle board destination in Central Oregon
- Crystal-clear turquoise water
- The most photogenic spot on our list
5) Suttle Lake
Suttle Lake is another popular recreation area set deep in the Deschutes National Forest, 30 miles north of Bend on Highway 20. The lakeshore is dense with Northwest Lodgepole pines and Ponderosas as far as the eye can see. At just over 250 acres, there’s plenty of lake to explore.
There’s two downsides to Suttle Lake. Firstly, powerboats are permitted on the lake so expect some wakes. Secondly, Suttle has a bad reputation for wind, so your best bet is to paddle during early mornings or evenings.
- Great area for hiking and world-class mountain biking
- Three campgrounds right on the lake (We recommend Blue Bay)
- Has sandy beaches for relaxing
- The Suttle Lake Lodge re-opened last year with new owners and has an Ace Hotel style vibe to it