Sparks Lake Early Ups with Oru Kayak


Early summer means long days. Long days mean if you want to see the sunrise, you have to wake pretty early. In Central Oregon, the sunrise is around 5:15 am. If you want to be in a sweet spot, that means a little drive time. On June 25th, my friend Anna and I decided to make that early wake up call and get that treat of a sunrise on Sparks Lake. I’ll tell you, it sure was worth the pain of waking at 3:30am.

Sparks lakes sits just at the backside of Mt. Bachelor and is probably the most photographed lake along the Cascade Lakes Highway. It’s special in that almost anywhere you sit on the lake, you have some mountain views whether it be of Mt. Bachelor, or of South Sister and Broken Top. Go ahead and google it, it’s really quite a nice spot! With that, it becomes a very popular place to visit and play on warm summer days, especially weekends. I only have weekends off, so in order for me to enjoy the tranquility of a calm lake, early mornings or evenings are my best bet.

We arrived at Sparks Lake around 4:45 am and with pretty dim lighting, set up the Beach and the Bay boats in 15 minutes. With plenty of coffee in tow, we pushed ourselves into the glasslike calm waters and started to make our way to the middle of the lake. Luckily, I had thought of grabbing my Kammok quilt because boy was it frosty cold. There was a good layer of fog flowing in and out of the inlets of the lake, making spots significantly cooler, but definitely more visually interesting. I love that about early morning on the lakes so much. As times goes on, the increasing (and decreasing) temperatures create different fog patterns, while waiting for the sun to poke out and heat things up. 

We waited on the lake for a good 30-40 minutes probably before we got to see the sun show itself. I always forget that about being in the mountains, especially down lower sitting on a lake, the sunrise times may be later because it has to reach over the mountains. We were pretty numb by the time the sun was up, but as soon as the sun kissed our hands and faces, we were much warmer almost instantly. We had a lot of fun trying to find some good spots getting those sunburst images and floating around in a really peaceful environment.

On our way back, we were given quite a show from a bald eagle, diving in for fish right in front of our boats. All these lovely treats earned just for a little motivation to wake up early. Once we were at the car, we were greeted by a friendly guy, J. S. Howard, who said he had been up all night shooting the stars and snapped some shots of us on the lake. He has some great work! Check it out at After we packed up the boats into their bags, it was time for breakfast and, of course, more coffee. Such a great feeling to have it be only 630 am and already have spent over an hour kayaking on the water, watching the sunrise as (most) everyone else is still sleeping.

Image by JS Howard

Image by JS Howard