Lake Owyhee is Oregon’s longest reservoir, spanning more than 52 miles within the spectacular Owyhee Canyon. Formed by the Owyhee River before being dammed in the 1930s, the canyon showcases a colorful display of volcanic rock layers and formations. Despite its extraordinary length, Lake Owyhee is relatively shallow, with an average depth of only 81 feet. This makes it a favorite fishing destination for warm water catches, such as largemouth bass, and black and white crappie. Other common catches include catfish, yellow perch and rainbow trout. The lake is located in remote, eastern Oregon, near the Idaho border, and can only be reached via a long, steep, narrow road. Yet, what this location lacks in services and amenities (including cellular service) more than makes up for with its dramatic desert setting and scenic landscape.
Owyhee State Park, situated on the east shore of Lake Owyhee, and approximately 45 miles south of Ontario, offers two campgrounds on opposite sides of a small bay. McCormack Campground, on the north side, has 29 electric sites and 9 rustic tent sites. These sites are partially shaded, and the campground has water, flush restrooms and showers; a dump station is located near the entrance. Indian Creek Campground, on the south side, has 22 electric sites and 2 cabins. These sites are mostly in the open, and the campground has water and vault toilets. Both campgrounds have ADA accessible sites, and all sites are equipped with picnic tables and fire pits. Ice and firewood are available for purchase. Dogs are welcome, but must remain leashed. Seasonal reservations are available, with some first-come, first-serve availability. Campsite rates are $17–$24/night; cabins are $43–$53/night.
Fishing, boating and water recreation are the main attractions at Lake Owyhee—and it’s largely the only way to see and explore the scenic canyon beyond the campground area. Boat ramps are located near the Indian Creek Campground and Gordon Gulch Day-use Area. Boat fuel and a fish cleaning station are available near the Indian Creek ramp. Kayak and SUP rentals are also available for paddling around the bay and lake nearby. Be sure to check out the “Glory Hole,” near the dam. This unique spillway diverts excess lakewater to the river, and looks like a 60-foot bathtub drain. Besides on-the-water activities, a couple of short hiking trails explore the park area. These are ideal for watching for some of the local wildlife, which includes golden eagles, pronghorns, coyotes and wild horses. Beware of rattlesnakes and mountain lions.
Two campgrounds at the end of a single lane road. Road runs about 20 miles. The end of it is skinny in spots with turnouts to allow vehicles to pass. Beautiful reservoir that has plenty of room for party boats, bass boats and ski boats. Campground is relatively private in some areas. Quite nice ADA accessible camp sites. Water and electricity provided with a dump site on your way out. Multiple boat ramps throughout.
So beautiful this time of year. Lots of rain so we skipped out second night, but we had a blast.
Spent two nights in our 25' trailer at this great campground. Stunning views, clean and safe campground. Did a lot of fishing with two young boys (7 and 9) and caught a decent amount of fish with help from other campers. The road in is very narrow, single lane, winding, and along the side of a steep cliff into the lake, maybe 15 minutes to drive. Pretty scary. Glad we didn't encounter any cars or boats coming the other direction. But overall had a great time, and would go back again.
Awesome campground in southeastern Oregon. Even on a busy Memorial Day weekend, able to find a spot last minute. The hot springs are perfect, the lake is awesome for boating, paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, etc.
Camping season has finally sprung, so it was time to scope out a new camp ground and enjoy a road trip! That plan took me too Lake Owyhee State Park! It has to be on your list of camp grounds. The camp ground sites are flat which makes leveling a travel trailer nice or finding a smooth spot for a tent. Each site comes with a fire pit and a wonder view of the lake. The scenic drive to Lake Owyhee is stunning from the arches and natural walls of rock to driving through carved out rock. If you get the chance be sure to stop at the blue whole, it is absolutely haunting to think about a boat motor dying and possibly falling in. Eek!
First of all--this place is a very far out there but that's what makes it such an interesting gem in the middle of nowhere. I could have stayed here for days. We only stayed for three at the Indian Creek campground where our RV had both power and water and a view of this amazing body of deliciously cool water filled with little fish and sometimes obnoxious boater types.
After driving down a road for 25 minutes you need to drive another 45 to actually get to the campsites. There are BLM sites with pit toilets along the river to the lake but these are mostly used by the fly fisherman.
Once you get to the Lake itself--or rather the reservoir, you snake along the edges of the road and the lake to your site and it's amazing. It's like being at Capitol Reef in Utah and they added a lake you could swim in.
The sites on this farthest campsite are on a tiered hillside. There's no privacy but the landscape is about the openness and vastness of the space so you enjoy everything throughout the day….When the sun rises and sets there is a dramatic change.
The weather goes windy and cool quickly as the mysterious lake creates cool breezes or deadening heat. Because it's not easy to get here, there aren't tons of people and/or amenities. Stinky pit toilets are manned by a couple of camp hosts who seem to drink all day and tool about with their rig. That being said, they leave everyone alone and you are free to wander, swim, hike, find snakes and fully inhale the sage scented world that really does resemble an early Star Trek set.
There's water but it's not tasty and again, the bathrooms are fly-infested and difficult to stand even for me--a tough one.
Bring sun shades, sunscreen, loads of foods and methods of hydration and be prepared to get good and quiet in this landscape. A boat --inflatable or anything that floats, really, is a dream object here as I was practically the only one enjoying the water for the three days I was there.
I heard a rumor somewhere there are plans to turn this place into a National Park or Monument and I can totally see why--I hope you go and see it for yourself!