Even though it appears on the map as California’s hat, Oregon is not just a delightful escape for Californians. The “Beaver State” has something of a mysterious, bewildering, and odd allure that most travelers—from every corner of the globe— would find difficult to resist. However, while there are many top-rated tourist attractions in Oregon, Clear Lake, known for its unbelievably clear waters, is usually one of the favorites. The water is typically a luminous blue-green, restfully calm, and, like the name suggests, as clear as though there was no water.


Of course, with the mention of water, most travelers would think about swimming, diving, and generally getting themselves wet. In the baking heat of summer, few activities are as cooling or as refreshing as taking a plunge. In this article, we’ve compiled everything travelers need to know about swimming in Clear Lake, Oregon.

Can You Swim In Clear Lake Oregon?

While we would have wanted to say “yes,”—the safest answer (for many of us) is “no.” Swimming in Clear Lake Oregon is not advisable and can actually be a dangerous affair. This is because the water is stingingly cold. The water temperatures inside Clear Lake trend at an average of about 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3.3 °Celsius). According to the National Center for Cold Water Safety—the Washington-based non-profit on water safety and awareness—the best water to swim in should range between 77-82 degrees Fahrenheit (25-27.7 degrees Celsius). This is the water temperature range required for swimming sports at the Olympics. According to the non-profit agency, anything below 77 degrees Fahrenheit will negatively affect breathing and other aspects of the circulatory system. Even the range between 70°F to 60°F(21°C-15°C) is already deemed dangerous and will require a wetsuit or other protective clothing. However, many can still bear the 70-60 temperature range depending on the degree of fitness.

But water temperatures that range between 60 °F-50 °F (15 °C-10 °C) are labeled as very dangerous and immediately life-threatening—especially to the average, non-professional swimmer. At this range, swimming comes with a total loss of breathing control. It’ll be difficult, many times impossible, to catch one's breath as a result of the cold shock. That said, triathletes, and those used to similar endurance feats—may acquaint themselves well within this temperature range. Any temperature levels below 50 °F will have similar, if not worse, physiological effects.

Still, winter swimmers who’ve been accustomed to swimming at cold temperature ranges can find swimming at Clear Lake exhilarating. The sudden rush of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals of the body, can make someone go grinning the whole day. The effect is a stronger immune system that’ll see off many irritating colds. However, the plunge (at these freezing temperature ranges), should be brief—even for the bubbly winter swimmers. For the rest of us, it’s better to first acclimatize to cold water, so the body can get used to it, before doing backstroke or taking a dip at Clear Lake.

Related: This Is The Only Place Where You Can Swim In Crater Lake

Can You Kayak On Clear Lake?

The short answer is “yes.” While swimming at Clear Lake is a dangerous dance, kayaking is pretty much safe, possible, and permitted. The serene calmness of the lake, coupled with its glassy clearness, makes kayaking a thoroughly enjoyable pastime. To add to that, the beautiful shoreline, dotted with evergreen trees—and set in a backdrop that’s clam, green, and laid-back—makes a trip on top of the blue rippling waters, quite a pleasant ride. The truth is, Clear Lake is a paddler's haven. And to make the experience even better, motorized boats are not allowed. While the main reason for their ban is ostensibly to maintain water quality, the prohibition ensures that the water will always be calm so those who kayak wouldn’t have to worry about the lake getting rough or turbulent. But there’s another calmness dividend: one can easily spot the 80-feet high trees—over which he or she is paddling. The cold also plays a beneficial role in boosting water clarity. Because of the freezing conditions, algae and other plant life cannot survive. Because of this, the water rarely clouds up.

Travelers can come with their kayaks or hire them at the lake. Clear Lake Resort and Cold Water Cove are the two main boat ramps from which to launch out to the lake. While Clear Lake Resort is more famous, the Cold Water Cove is usually a quieter access point because it’s less crowded. While there are standard fees for those who’ll use the lake’s kayaks, those who come with their own kayaks will be required to pay a small fee of $5.

How Much Is The Fee For Hiring A Kayak At Clear Lake Oregon? Visitors are charged $30 for renting a kayak for the whole day. Alternatively, they can pay $15 per hour.

Related: These Are The Top-Rated Cities To Visit In Oregon

Clear Lake in Oregon has a fascinating underwater. And the scenes above are even more stunning. While it may not be possible to swim inside, except for seasoned winter divers, paddling above the calm blue of the lake’s waters—is still an enjoyable experience.