5 Reasons to Love Sparks Lake

Fantastic views are just a hop, skip, and a jump up the road from Tripleknot at this alpine lake.

What if I told you that you can find a crystal clear alpine lake with unparalleled views of Mt. Bachelor, South Sister, and Broken Top, right in your backyard? When you live at PointsWest, a vision like this isn’t too far from reality. Since the community is conveniently situated right off the Cascade Lakes Highway, you’ve got prime access to some of the best backcountry areas and adventures that Central Oregon has to offer. And you’re only a hop, skip, and a jump (about 20 minutes away) from Sparks Lake, which is hands down my favorite lake of all (and I’ve been to a lot of lakes). Here’s why:

 1) The views

There is certainly no lack of eye candy at this lake. Only at Sparks are you nestled in between three looming Cascade mountains at such great proximity. You’re so near to Bachelor that you can pick out the Boomerang run off the Outback lift. South Sister’s summit is so close that you can maybe make out the hikers on top. You can even pick out the craggy peaks and rocky ledges on Broken Top’s broken top. No matter which direction you turn on the lake, there’s a snow-capped mountain dotted with pine trees and wildflowers peacefully staring you down. And it’s the most awe-inspiring feeling in the world.

2) The kayaking

There’s nothing like being able to grab my kayak (or paddleboard), throw it on the car, and speed on out of town for a relaxing day at Sparks, or even just a couple hours in the morning or evening for an easy getaway of epic proportions. The water is placid and clear, and it’s nice and cool in the mountain air, even on a hot day. And it’s a great place for exploring. There are a handful of islands to paddle out to and wander about. Last time I was there, I even saw a deer on one! Don’t ask me how it got there–I’ll never know. Furthermore, a number of lava formations line the edges of the lake, providing the perfect playground to climb on and kayak behind. Sparks isn’t round: it has a couple long “arms” with little inlets and coves that make the perfect place to find a secret little beach to enjoy that could only be accessed by boat. Talk about an escape!

3) The moonlight

Take everything I said about kayaking, and convert it into a moonlight excursion. The lake is the best place to get away from the city lights–and all of a sudden, it seems like there are a million more stars in the sky. The lake is quiet. The crowds are gone. You can see the moonlight reflecting off of the mountains and in the water. A fish jumps 10 feet away from you. Add a bottle of Twilight summer ale, and you’ve got yourself a magical night.

4) The camping

There’s your basic car camping in a busy campground with RV’s whirring and bathrooms flushing and babies crying and zero privacy with maybe a glimpse of the water if you really squint past campsites 24 and 47. And then there’s car camping at Sparks. Score your own secluded campground right on the water with the view most campers only dream of. Pitch your tent, or hang up the hammock. Feel the solitude. Read a book. Stoke the fire. Or, even better: kayak to your campsite across the lake. Now this is what it’s all about.

5) Everything else

These are my preferred activities at Sparks, but others enjoy the hiking trail around the lake and the ADA-accessible Ray Atkeson trail near the boat ramp for some great wildlife viewing. Another popular activity is fishing for brook trout, but the lake is open to fly angling only. No matter what outdoor activities suit your fancy, Sparks is as good as alpine lakes get. And the best part is that it is only a short drive away.

Cycle Pub to your heart’s desire

Cycle Pub riders aren’t having any fun at all as they pedal and drink their way through the streets of Bend.

Bend is a mecca for both beer and biking. So it makes sense that one of the most popular attractions in Bend is an ingenious mash up of the two.

The Cycle Pub is essentially a bar on wheels, a trolley powered by as many as 14 riders who park their butts on bike seats and pedal their way through the streets of Bend while enjoying the craft beer that the city is famous for.

Wait… wouldn’t this be considered drinking and driving? How is this legal?

Think of it as a limousine or a party bus, except way cooler. A trained (and completely sober) driver steers the Cycle Pub so riders can legally enjoy a local fine-crafted beer or glass of wine en route. It’s strictly BYOB, since the Cycle Pub crew cannot legally serve you. Stops at various breweries around town during the ride will easily hold you over. And the employees are happy to arrange for catered lunch and dinner, live music, or even a bartender to enhance your experience. The Cycle Pub is brilliant because it is a fun and safe way to beat the system and enjoy your beverage while cruising around Bend.

The owner of Cycle Pub, James Watts, originally got the idea for a pub on wheels from his travels in Germany and knew it would be the perfect fit for the beer and biking culture in Bend. And Bendites have fully embraced the business. It is a great way to celebrate anything from birthdays to bachelor/bachelorette parties, for tourists to experience the town, or for locals to let loose with friends. Tours typically start at $300 for two hours, and they can also be reserved for the entire day to accommodate your event. You can also book smaller Cycle Pub “vehicles” for up to six people. Spots fill quickly though, since this is a truly unique and awesome experience.

The Cycle Pub has become an integral part of life in Bend in the summer. Onlookers and passersby love to holler and wave as riders who look like they are having the time of their life pedal down the street. And how can you blame them? Since virtually every Bendite loves biking and beer, they can’t help but be doubly jealous. For more information, visit the Cycle Pub website at www.cyclepub.com.


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