Summer Lake, Oregon

One of the largest lakes in Oregon at over 20 miles long Summer Lake is home to some great historical properties as well as wildlife, hot springs and stunning landscapes.

Summer Lake Pano



As you drop into the basin in the morning geothermal vents send plumes of steam up letting you know you’ve reached the basin. It’s possible you aren’t up hunting for sunrises, but if you are, there are some great ones here. That steam makes for some really nice mornings. We happened to be headed out there for the Audubon Christmas bird count so we were there early and were rewarded with some great color. Once again I was standing out in the road with my tripod.....

Summer Lake sunrise


Located in Lake County, OR, Summer Lake is on Oregon Route 31 about halfway between Bend and Lakeview. This lovely gem sits at the base of the eastern slope of Winter Ridge next to the Fremont–Winema National Forests.

summer lake


Summer Lake Wildlife Area supports more than 250 species of birds, many of which we found when we did the Audubon Christmas bird count out there. These wetlands host hundreds of thousands of birds during the annual spring and fall migrations along the Pacific Flyway. I’ll be back for that!

When we were there for the bird count we found all kinds of great birds. My husband’s favorite (okay, mine too) were the Great Horned Owls. You can read more about the birds we found here. Audubon Christmas bird count at Summer Lake (or click on this owl photo.)

Great Horned Owl

The Harris family, who were among the first pioneer families to settle in the Summer Lake area built the Harris School, a one-room schoolhouse in 1890. The school closed in 1919, and then briefly reopened in 1926 and closed again in 1929. When we were there the owner of the property was coming down to meet the UPS lady who carries treats for Abbey, his dog. He let us on the property and told us some more tidbits. The week before they had buried the man who was the last student to attend the Harris School. The school is right on hwy 31. It is a great location to play with your black and white or sepia.

harris schoolhouse

At the back of the school there are the scars where a bear tried to get inside by ripping off the back side.

harris schoolhouse

The interior is in need of some rehab but shows some of the lifestyle of a one room schoolhouse.

harris schoolhouse interior

We also found a great barn here, the “No Smoking” barn, which I have since seen in some drawings. A friendly group of dogs came out to greet us while I took pictures.

No smoking barn


The “No Smoking” barn is right on highway 31. On the north side is the River Ranch Barn, which is worth the drive to go photograph. Both are great prospects for HDR photography.

Summer Lake River Ranch Barn

The Hot Springs

(It would be great if I had some photos of it but I don't)

The hot springs have been used by natives for thousands of years. In 1843, John Freemont who stayed at the hot springs while mapping the region, was quoted as saying “the hot springs was some of the best water he had ever come across.”

Summer Lake Hot Springs is also on the path of the people who migrate to the Burning Man festival and has a nice super affordable package.

University of Oregon Archeologists recently discovered human DNA in a local cave. This finding is considered to be the oldest record of humans in North and South America and made the international news.

I love reading the guest rules…”Clothing optional after 9:00pm” and “Make sure children (and adults) wash their bum before swimming.” Are my favorites!


Camping: Yes There is camping at The Hot Springs and at Ana Reservoir.


Google Map To Summer Lake


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