We went kayaking in early May at Prineville Reservoir after an unexpected change of plans. The high elevation lake we had planned to visit was not yet open.
The 15-mile long Prineville Reservoir covers 3,030 acres. It’s located south of Prineville, near the geographic center of Oregon.
I had never kayaked here before and wasn’t sure what to expect. The geology surrounding the lake was a pleasant surprise.
This formation was smooth and vegetated on one side and bursting with colorful rocks on the other.
These layers of color looked like a slice of spumoni ice cream.
When I paddled a little closer, the layers rippled with texture.
I paddled on to a formation that, from a distance, reminded me of Smith Rock.
When I got closer, it looked sort of like a slumbering stegosaurus.
I paddled south across the reservoir, towards more luscious layers of rock. A bald eagle drifted back and forth over the ridgetop.
I rounded a point of land and paddled toward a dark landform on the mountain ahead.
Dark, convoluted cliffs emerged from the smooth slopes.
After that, I paddled west, back towards the boat ramp. I was treated to a close up view of another layered formation. This one reminded me of a lemon and peach parfait.
I enjoyed kayaking at Prineville Reservoir and plan to return to explore more of this large reservoir.
We launched from the County Boat Ramp, an unimproved ramp on the north side of the reservoir. You can also launch from Jasper Point, Prineville Reservoir State Park, Powderhouse Cove, Roberts Bay East, or Prineville Reservoir Resort (the only privately-owned site).
Fishing and Camping at Prineville Reservoir
During the peak season, motorboats are common on the reservoir. In early May, we only saw a few other boats. People enjoy fishing at Prineville Reservoir for smallmouth and largemouth bass, crappie, bullhead catfish, and rainbow trout.
In low water years, the boat ramps may not reach the water level in the reservoir. Check this site that shows current water levels at a few of the ramps. Some close down when water levels are too low.
We packed food in with us and had lunch at nearby Prineville Reservoir State Park. This looks like a nice place to camp. It has RV and tent sites, as well as five cabins to rent. There’s a boat ramp and 32 boat moorages available in the summer months.