: Big Lake near Sisters

Top Spots to Beat the Heat

July 23, 2018

Oregon summers are all about sunshine. But when you’re ready for an escape from the heat, we have lots of easy ways to cool down. Here’s how to find relief with a shady hike, a misty waterfall, a cool lava tube, a chilly ice rink, a frozen treat and more.

Nothing beats a summertime swim or paddle in Wallowa Lake in Eastern Oregon.

Catch these lake vibes

With early summer mosquitos gone, August is prime time to hit the lakes. Wallowa Lake in Joseph is an enchanting retreat any time of year, but during our hottest months, nothing beats a swim in its crystal-clear waters. Walton Lake is another gem, in Central Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest where you can also cast your fishing line for stocked rainbow trout and catfish. The glassy waters of Big Lake near Sisters are ideal for paddling. In the Tualatin Valley, take your paddleboard, kayak or huge floaty tube to Henry Hagg Lake, where the no-wake zone means you can truly chill out without worry. Don’t forget the life vests and sunscreen, and see our new summer lake guide for more inspiration!

Portland’s Lloyd Center Ice Rink offers cool ice skating lessons. (Photo credit: Lloyd Center Ice Rink)

Chase the ice

Feel like you need to walk into a freezer to cool down? Try your friendly community ice rink. Portland’s Lloyd Center Ice Rink, Beaverton’s Winterhawks Skating Center, Sherwood Ice Arena and The RRRink in Medford offer learn-to-skate lessons for young and old. More frostiness? Indulge in ice cream on the Coast at one of your favorite spots — just remember to eat it in a nice shady spot so it doesn’t make a big gooey mess.

Take the shaded hike to Tamanawas Falls, with a nice mist from the waterfall at the end. (Photo credit: Nickie Bournias)

Get up high

It’s cooler in the high altitude of the Steens Mountain Wilderness, one of Oregon’s most remote and stunning areas. An epic trek to the glacial lakes will leave you in a cool sweat, but the view is so distracting you likely won’t notice. Near Mt. Hood, take the shaded hike to Tamanawas Falls, with a nice mist from the waterfall at the end. Coastal forest hikes are also typically cooler than other regions; check out this round-up of lovely treks on the Oregon Coast for all skill levels.

A kid walks through the deep fissures of Crack in the Ground.
Summer is the perfect time to explore Oregon’s many underground secrets, like Crack in the Ground. (Photo credit: Maya Fuller / BLM)
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Go underground

The temperature can drop as much as 20 degrees below ground, so summer is the perfect time to explore Oregon’s many underground secrets. Walking through Crack in the Ground — a 2-mile-long, 70-foot-deep volcanic fissure in Southern Oregon’s remote Christmas Valley — is awe-inspiring for sure. You can also cool off while learning about the delicate ecosystems of lava tube caves in Central Oregon’s high desert on a guided trip with Wanderlust Tours. In Eastern Oregon, the Pendleton Underground Tours gives a glimpse of Pendleton’s historic red-light district, leading visitors along subterranean, basalt-rock tunnels built at the turn of the twentieth century. Finally, on the Oregon Coast, the Fort Stevens Underground Tour offers a fascinating, family-friendly look at the underground battery that’s normally locked off from the public. It runs several times daily through September; check hours of operation of all tours before you go, and book ahead of time when you can.  

The site of windsurfing competitions, Meyers Beach offers a breezy respite from heat in Gold Beach. (Photo credit: Kenji Sugahara)

Head to the beach

We love the Oregon Coast for so many reasons, one being that it stays moderately cool year-round. Come summer you can expect temperatures in the 60s along the shores. Because of this, it’s also the most popular season to visit the Coast. Find a secluded spot on Oregon’s South Coast, where a 60-mile stretch features photo-worthy sea stacks and epic water adventures on jet boats and kayaks. With the cool weather, you won’t mind working up a sweat on a newly designated fat bike route.

About The
Author

Jen Anderson
Jen Anderson writes and edits Travel Oregon's e-newsletters and other online content. She loves finding the latest places to eat, drink and play around the state with her husband and two young boys. Brewpubs, beaches and bike trails top the list.

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Trip Ideas

Ask Oregon

What are some good family-friendly lake resorts where we can go kayaking?

There are some really cool places to visit where you can enjoy a vacation rental with access to kayaking. Twin Lakes Resort is a paddler’s dream as no motorized boats are allowed. It is in a rather remote area between the Willamette Valley and Bend. The drive is beautiful along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway….

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