This was a recommendation from the couple we met at Columbia Hills, but I also remember hearing about it, as well as driving past it, a couple years ago. It looked like an ideal place for waterfront sites, and the Forest Service campground did not disappoint!
Being in the more loosey goosey end of our travels, we did not have prior reservations. But when I looked online, I grabbed a “preferred” site right by the water. Only drawback was that it was only available for two nights. This campground offers some reservable loops, but about the same number of first come, first served loops too. So we figured the chances were ok that we’d be able to grab something on Friday morning in order to extend our stay through the weekend. And yes, that did work, but we had to go through some stress beforehand.
Leaving a one nighter at La Pine State Park (which I will cover in the next post because we’re going back), we stopped for service and just pinned down sites for the rest of the trip. Richard was feeling reservation anxiety and it helped to know we had spots, especially as we were approaching California and areas that are harder to reserve. That done, we proceeded to Diamond Lake.
Our first site was beautiful, right on the lake, but we didn’t unhitch since we figured we might be moving the next morning. The next morning brought good news in that we got a first come site for as long as we wanted, and bad news in that I started feeling not so great. Way back four years ago, I had a bout of altitude sickness at Tahoe, so I know to be careful at or above 6,000 feet. I have been there, and higher, since, but have had no problems. I also have been super proactive about drinking water and not drinking alcohol. I’ll admit it, I was not paying attention at all. Stupid. We’d been at sea level, or close to, for a while before ascending up to La Pine. Then the next day we went higher to Diamond Lake. Didn’t drink water, did drink wine, felt horrible for 24 hours. At least I wasn’t completely panicked about it since I figured I knew what it was. And we descended back to 4,000′ feet for a couple hours just to verify and recoup a little. What could have ruined a perfect location was really just a one day set back. But also a reminder and repeat lesson on how I seem to be really, really sensitive to elevation.
Another lesson learned: Richard actually towed Dory while we were moving sites! Granted, it was only about a hundred feet as he moved out of the dump station and into the right loop. But he did it! I was coherent enough to back her into the site, which was good cause I don’t know if he could have done that. I guess the Caravan Mover can be considered emergency backup equipment now.
But onto the fun! Friday was kind of a bust, but Richard got to do a little riding up and down the bike path to sort of check out the area. Saturday, he did the whole loop and I followed and met up with him in spots. It’s a gorgeous lake with just the right amount of services. There is a lodge with a restaurant and store on one end, and a little pizza joint with ice cream at the other. Cell service is not so good, but if you go to the day use picnic area, there’s enough to communicate slowly. I also found that I could hit ATT 4g from the middle of the lake. And it is not at all crowded with people, so it’s kind of the perfect lake experience.
By Saturday afternoon, I was fine and even took my boat out for a paddle. We found that there was a direct relationship between the wind and the mosquitos, and we highly preferred the former. Our site was super sweet because I could leave my kayak all set up and just tie it off on the shore. In truth, there are many, many sites in this campground that are ideal launching points. I didn’t bother to try to write down nice sites because there are honestly too many. As long as they’re waterfront, there’s a good chance you can launch from the site. And if not, there’s a boat launch in the campground too.
Sunday Richard headed up to Crater Lake while I got in another paddle. After he’d gotten a good hour or so head start, I followed up with Bruce. Note to bikers: the ranger at the entrance kiosk did not take kindly to the idea of Richard going through, promising that his wife with the car and National Parks Annual Pass, would be following. It’s against policy and we don’t blame him for being a stickler. We’re rule followers and we get it, and ultimately he let Richard go in rather than pay the $12 fee. It makes it a lot more logistically challenging if you’re trying to SAG a bike into a park, but we’ll plan better in the future.
The ride is a serious climb for a biker, but he lives for that. We met up at close to the top and enjoyed some views. I swear, if I had magical powers, I would make all the blue things I have exactly that shade of blue. It’s glorious and delicious and I love it.
That afternoon we both hit the bike trail for a trip up to the lodge for dinner. Now that is what I call a lakeside bike trail! It goes mostly through the campground, which takes up a very long stretch of one entire side of the lake. Once you’re through all of the loops, you’re practically at the lodge. They have rooms and boat rentals, stores, and all kinds of fun things for families up there. I found the food to be so-so, but the soft serve chocolate to be top notch. #priorities
We ended up being at the lake four nights and were treated to a marvelous sunset on the last. I took pictures while getting bit by mosquitoes. Worth it.
Thank you Diamond Lake. This really stands out among my all time favorite campgrounds ever. Bit of a trip for a weekend, but I’d like to think we’ll be back.
Total miles from La Pine: around 80, I forgot to get data. It’s a climb of about a thousand feet. Sites M6 (reservable) and K25 (first come). Cell service almost non existent for ATT, but I could hit 4g at the day use area and on the lake. Verizon had 2 bars of LTE, but it was so slow as to be not much help. Also from the day use area, the speed picks up enough to get work done. No hookups in the campground, but water spigots around. Dump site. Flush toilets and showers in some loops. Excellent solar in our site, enough to maintain 85-100% battery. Lots of mosquitos!