Camping at Suttle Lake in a yurt or at one of their many campgrounds is tons of fun for families. It’s a great way to enjoy time outdoors and try different activities. Suttle Lake is a pristine alpine lake located not far from Sisters and only 37 miles from the town of Bend. Tucked away inside Deschutes National Forest, Suttle Lake lies amidst a dense forest full of towering Ponderosa Pines in sunny Central Oregon.
Despite Suttle Lake’s reputation of being a great camping location for families, I was quite worried about the notion of taking my kids camping. Isn’t it strange the things we tell ourselves we can’t do? I was straight-up scared to be a single mom. (How come nobody ever mentions how awesome it is to be a single mom?) I wondered if I would still be able to do all the things we enjoy.
For example, camping. Can I put a tent up by myself? What do we do if we get all the way out there and I can’t do it?
Now, this may seem somewhat ridiculous, because for goodness sake, I know dang well I can put a tent up. I wanted to do something I’ve done so many other times with my kids. I wanted to take them camping, but still, that tent anxiety kept getting to me. So, instead of worrying about how I was going to put up the tent, I rented a yurt.
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What is a yurt?
Until recently, I didn’t know much about yurts. I have heard people mention them over the years, but I had never given them much thought, and I certainly had not seen one in person. As you can see in the above picture, it is a round, one-room structure. Inside are a few beds, and depending on where you stay, there may be a wood stove and tables. The yurt is a very simple setup that serves its purpose well and provides a great replacement for a tent if you desire.
Suttle Lake Yurts
Our yurt was located on one of the campgrounds found along Suttle Lake. We got lucky because this particular lake only has 3 yurts.
Suttle Lake is a small lake near Sisters Oregon found off Hwy 20, about 10 miles southeast of the Santiam Summit. Their yurts have a bunk bed, as seen in the photo below, with one bed on top and the bottom. There was also a futon couch that could sleep another two people, a coffee table, a dining table, and a wood-burning stove. Of course, the best part was that I did not have to put together or break down a tent! I just opened the door and we were practically set! I mean, it only takes a minute or two to lay out some sleeping bags.
If you are staying in a yurt, this packing list for camping is still great, you just won’t need to pack a tent. If there are enough beds, you will not need air mattresses either.
Suttle Lake is great for many reasons, but if I’m honest, I never would have come here if my friends hadn’t invited me. It has been their go-to spot for who knows how long, and it has become an annual tradition for us too. The lake is small, but not so small that you can’t boat on it. We spend quite a bit of time tubing with friends when we come here.
This year Jonah and I both went paddleboarding. As far as I know, you cannot rent paddleboards here, so you have to bring them yourself. I recommend getting an inflatable paddleboard because they are easier to travel with.
There is also a 3-mile trail that goes all around the lake that is super fun to hike or bike around. The campground is well paved and is good for bicycles too.
Suttle Lake Bathrooms
At the Suttle Lake campgrounds, there are no showers. There are toilets, but they are not the kind that flush. I’d recommend bringing some air fresheners and toilet paper.
There is also a lodge you can stay at on one end of the lake. We have not stayed there yet, but you can go see what people have to say about the Suttle Lake Lodge over on TripAdvisor. Some one also told me there were log cabins for rent, but I’ve never noticed them, so I cannot confirm this.
Warning: Eden briefly got swimmers itch here and it was a miserable experience for her. For those of you that are unaware, swimmers itch is a really bothersome rash caused by parasites that reside in shallow water. Although it is unlikely that you will encounter swimmers itch, as long as you don’t spend too much time in the shallow water, you may want to consider using Safe Sea Anti-Jellyfish Sting Protective Lotion before you swim here. This helps protect against swimmer’s itch.
Things to do near Suttle Lake
Here, you can choose a hiking trail to explore the area to the fullest and get a bit more personal with the nature in it. Fishing and camping are very popular.
- See where the virginal Metolius River springs from its headwaters. Here you can also enjoy great views of Mt. Jefferson.
- Bike around the lake or over to Black Butte on the Suttle Tie Trail.
- Check out a volcano at Black Butte.
- Check out the adorable town of Sisters.
Camping Scavenger Hunt for Kids – This is an easy hunt that will keep the kids having fun when they get a bit bored.
Rent a travel trailer – They have spaces that will accommodate a trailer.
Don’t feel like camping here are some places to stay nearby.
Pick a Place to Stay
Not everyone wants to camp in a tent. For those that prefer a cabin, we recommend checking out the cabins on VRBO. If you want a glamping experience check out the amazing glamping options on Expedia or visit Tentrr where it’s broken down by state! To find good campgrounds in Europe check out EuroCamp.
Rent an RV
I highly recommend renting an RV instead of buying one. I bought one, only to realize I hated it. RVShare has all kinds of RVs you can rent.
Get Travel Insurance
Choose Activities and Tours
To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available. When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals.
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