Elk Lake, Mermaids & the Full Moon

Kayaking under the full moon

Elk Lake–a sparkling, high mountain jewel in the Cascades–is startlingly calm when the moon comes up: quiet, still and totally abandoned except for the reflection of the night sky and a few intrepid revelers.

If you have a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle board or a rubber raft, and a little bit of gumption, you’re in for a truly mystical adventure. Just add some good company (dogs most heartily included).

The full moon beckons Pippin and me to the water. Pip loves to go kayaking, as all good water dogs do. He nestles himself on a blanket in the front of the boat and rests his chin on its lip, watching the lake go by underneath him. I like to think he dreams of mermaids, but maybe it’s birds and bunnies he’s pining for.

Pippin, the Golden-on-the Go

Tonight, we travel across Elk Lake with some good friends and Scout, the fastest Dachshund in the County. (Scout won the local Wiener Dog Race by a nose and a tail.)

The moon rises over Mt. Bachelor on the eastern horizon as we make our way out of the marina and into the center of the lake.

Here we rest, letting the kayaks drift lazily on their own, while we break out the midnight snacks. We’ve packed picnics of bread and cheese, apple slices, raw almonds and dark chocolate.

Our conversation is light and subdued, tending to the ethereal. After all, we are keeping company with Pippin’s mermaids, magical water sprites and a pantheon of night stars, as befits this mystical adventure.

We know that speaking will break the spell and make us mere mortals again.

Scout, The Fastest Dachshund in Deschutes County
Photo: Sondra Holtzman

A slight breeze passes through, kissing our faces before it continues across the lake. We follow it with our eyes; small ripples glitter in ever-changing patterns until, as suddenly as it came up, the wind is gone.

We take our cue from this element of air, conclude our moonlight rendezvous with a toast to all things magical, and head back to shore in silence. The quiet of the night has sunk into our bones and will ride home with us. We know that speaking will break the spell and make us mere mortals again.

Side Note: It isn’t in Pippin’s nature to howl at the moon, though I cannot understand why. I have been known to belt out a few yowling hollers myself on more than one occasion. (Note: if you have a mind to try it, it’s best done among a plucky group, well outside the confines of civilization.) I tried to teach Pip to howl once, but he lowered his ears and ran off to chase a bug.

Visitor Resources

Photo: Elk Lake Resort

Summer Activities: Fishing, biking, hiking, picnicking, camping and all kinds of boating: kayaking, canoeing, sailing, pontoon boating, row boating. Motorboats are allowed on Elk Lake, but boats cannot create wakes. The area is excellent for exploring and backpacking also, for its proximity to the Pacific Crest Trail.

Elk Lake Resort
Elk Lake Resort is located 10 miles from Mt. Bachelor in the Cascade mountains, making it one of the most beautiful and underrated vacation destinations in Oregon.

Elk Lake Resort Dining
The highly acclaimed lakeside restaurant at Elk Lake serves “rustic American fare,” local microbrews on tap and an expansive wine selection. They also boast “the best fresh-squeezed cocktail selections available.”

Elk Lake Resort Cabin #26

Elk Lake Resort Lodging
Cabins range from the rustic to the luxurious, and forest to lakeside, including “camping” cabins, fully appointed cabins and “glamping” tents.

Elk Lake Resort Marina
Rent watercraft at the marina including row boats, single and double kayaks, canoes and standup paddle boards. You can also rent a mobile day dock of your own and fat tire bikes.

Events and Entertainment
Enjoy Music on the Water with local musicians in the summer, rent pontoon boats and day docks, get married (!) and join organized group activities on and around Elk Lake.

Elk Lake Resort Pet Policy
Elk Lake Resort is a Pet Friendly resort. There are certain guidelines that need to be followed if you plan on bringing your pet during the summer months. Please call the Lodge at 541-480-7378 for more information.

Nearby Camping

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