- Chris Miller
- Glamper-in-training or just another happy camper?
There are two types of campers: First, the ones who enjoy pitching a tent, unrolling the musty-smelling Coleman sleeping bag, zipping themselves into their nylon shelter and sleeping in the elements. The others, well, they like a bed, modern appliances—and in my wife's case, a shower.
Find both at South Twin Lake, located just northwest of Wickiup Reservoir about 50 miles southwest from Bend. There's a campground, currently run by Hoodoo Recreation, that offers both reserved and drop-in sites. Meanwhile, Twin Lakes Resort offers 14 cabins for rent, sleeping anywhere from three to 15 people, as well as a store with tackle, snack food, beverages and ice to keep your bevvies cold.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the lake was formed about 20,000 years ago when rising magma hit ground water and caused violent steam explosions. The 99-acre lake is stocked with legal-size rainbow trout a few times a year, with a few trophy trout thrown in for your angling pleasure. It's open year-round, although high snow years keep the road closed until spring. Generally, fishing is better when the weather isn't lava hot—like summers in Bend can often be—but if you follow stocking reports, and get lucky, fishing can be hot in the summer, too.
What makes Twin Lakes Resort stand out for the glamping set: the restaurant. During the summer you don't really need to bring your own food. The breakfasts are filling, reasonably priced and taste good. Lunch includes the standard sandwich or burger fare, but I recommend the delicious, melted mozzarella sticks.
Then there's dinner. My advice: either share your meal, or wear clothes with an expandable waistline. The rib platter is a full rack of baby backs, barbequed to a fall-off-the-bone deliciousness, served with butter rolls and a side salad. Another evening, we indulged in the all-you-can-eat spaghetti. Again, wear comfy clothes. They serve sodas, beer and wine, and if you're a bring-your-own-bottle type, the corkage fee is about the price of a bottle of Charles Shaw. The days the restaurant is open for dinner changes with the seasons, so be sure to check before you go.
Both South Twin and its adjacent lake, North Twin, are boat friendly, but your conveyance must be non-motorized. My son and I rowed our drift boat around the lake hoping to find "fishy" looking spots. We stopped where a large ponderosa pine had fallen into the water, set our anchor and casted out a treble hook covered in rainbow PowerBait. We'd just eaten lunch, so I didn't think the chances of hooking up were great. I laid back on the cooler-rowing seat and pulled my trucker hat over my eyes to take a nap. About five minutes later, my son was yelling about the rod dancing in its holder. Sure enough, a fish had taken the bait and was swimming off. I set the hook and handed the graphite rod over to my son, who deftly played it to the boat. We netted the 14-inch trout and brought it onboard. To my dismay, the fish had swallowed the hook so deep, I couldn't retrieve it, so we dispatched the trout and placed it in the cooler. In the next hour, my son and I limited out and turned what I thought would be a lap around the lake into a delicious smoked trout dinner.
The cabin we rented had two twin beds, a kitchenette, full bathroom and a fire pit (not usable during wildfire season) off the little porch that looks right at the natural lake. We saw bald eagles, osprey catching large trout and a few deer. In the summer the lake provides a refreshing break from the heat. Paddleboarders can cruise the shoreline and there's a nice trail that follows the lake's perimeter. To get a sense of how the fish are biting, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife posts weekly trout stocking on its website at myodfw.com.
South Twin delivers fishing and camping in style—and seeing your 6-year-old's face as he reels in trout after trout is a memory that will never fade.