In the summer months, this 3,500-acre, 9-mile long lake in the Cascades below Mt. Jefferson is a popular recreation area for fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming, camping, and picnicking. The U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation and operate numerous boat ramps, campgrounds and day-use areas around the lake. Two privately owned marinas are located near the town of Detroit.
Both Detroit and Big Cliff lakes are located 43 miles southeast of Salem on the North Fork of the Santiam River. They are operated by the Corps of Engineers as part of a system of thirteen multi-purpose dams and reservoirs that make up the Willamette Valley Project. These dams and reservoirs work together for the purposes of flood damage reduction, hydropower generation, irrigation, recreation, fish and wildlife enhancement, and downstream water quality improvement within the Willamette River drainage system.. To learn more about the lake and construction of the dam visit the Army Corps of Engineers website at http://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/
In late summer, early fall through spring, the water levels on Detroit and Big Cliff lakes are frequently drawn down to the point where boat launches are no longer available. Reservoir and river level information is available from the US Army Corps of Engineers here. Watch for obstructions near the shoreline such as submerged stumps, logs and rocks. Small craft should stay out of open waters when it is windy since dangerous waves can build up suddenly.
Fish Your National Forests: This site can be accessed by Passenger Car; Fish available include: Trout, Native Trout; Types of fishing available include: Shore, Motorized boat, Float tube, Fly, Spin, Bait; ADA Accessible fishing access with fishing pier, boat launch, and fish cleaning station