Diamond Lake Oregon, neighbor to Crater Lake

24 08 2011

Had three days off in a row for the first time since June. This fell right in the midst of the annual Perseid meteor showers-I hoped to view. So rather than heading to one of my usual favorite overnight outdoor spots, I studied the map and decided to go somewhere new – Diamond Lake. But I didn’t realize I’d be a stone’s throw from Crater Lake National Park!

Diamond Lake is in south central Oregon, five hours distant from Portland. It lies beneath9,184 ft Mt. Thielsen to the east and 8,375 ft Mt. Bailey westward. To get there, head to Roseburg, Oregon, and then drive east on SR 138 all the way to Diamond Lake. It passes through the National Wild & Scenic North Umpqua River.

Along the way, you pass evidence of violent geologic events. SR 138 passes through layer after layer of ash fall, exposed when the road was cut. In many places, it’s 40 ft thick, and the forest above clings to its edge – falling away with each passing winter. So, my arrival was further delayed by numerous projects fixing the road. The area is in its infancy – in geologic terms. Even extinct Thielsen is less than 300,000 years old. Crater Lake was formed only 7,000 years ago.

Never having been to Diamond Lake, the campground named Thielsen View seemed tempting. But it was not to my liking at all. It was heavily forested, full of RVs, its campsites weren’t on the lake and worse, infested with biting mosquitoes! I decided to head for the main campground on the other side of the lake. Once there, at Diamond Lake Campground, I felt a bit better. Although large and a bit over provisioned for me, it offered lakeside sites, sun, and since it was more windy, only had a few biting bugs. I’m usually turned off by campgrounds with lots of facilities. But here, as it’s so busy, the place needed to be that way to handle the groups. Looking at my map, I realized it’s only 15 minutes from Crater Lake National Park.

And, it offered lakeside views of Mount Bailey, nice paddling, full-blooming wildflowers, and generously-sized campsites.

Mt. Thielson

With perfect weather, wonderful views and a lovely lake I didn’t have much to complain about! Only to figure out what to do the following day.

Having realized that I was so close to Crater Lake, I figured I just had to get down there tomorrow. But now, time to enjoy the late summer afternoon paddling around on Diamond Lake!

I headed up the north shore past myriad of campsites nestled along the lakeside. What a sight, to have two beautiful peaks in view! Little mentioned is that this lake is a no-wake zone. So although motorboats abound, there’s no noisy water skiing or wave runners to denigrate the peaceful setting. It’s a decent paddling spot.

Around a bend, I encountered Diamond Lake Resort. It reminded me a little bit of Old Forge, NY, a town in Adirondack State Park, where I first paddled a canoe.

Like the 1950’s


The resort has a hotel, restaurant, beach, cabins, and a marina filled with rental boats and sailboats. Kiddos played along the beach, building sand castles.

Along the outside of the marina, sea gulls gathered on a floating log boom.

Everything seemed so peaceful…all playing, enjoying the scenery.



With the sun setting behind Mount Bailey, I headed back.

I settled down to a campfire and feasted on fresh salad of mixed greens, plus garlic mashed potatoes, and grilled bratwurst. Much to my disappointment, it was a full moon evening, meaning the meteor showers were utterly bleached out by the moonlight!

I looked forward to checking out Crater Lake National Park in the morning!



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