For a desert, there sure are a surprising number of lakes in this area. And what a great way to cool off in the summer heat. Two favorite choices:
Although most tourists seek Suttle Lake as a summer destination, nestled into the mountains past Sisters, Scout Lake demands only two things: a comfortable floaty and a sunny afternoon. Camping and picnicking sites, though somewhat rustic, surround the banks of the hidden swimming pool. The hiking trails nearby, leading to Dark Lake and through the forests, have been transformed by years of forest fires. Scout Lake is just the kind of secluded spot to spend quality time with a cooler, inner tube and tanning lotion.
From Sisters, travel about 13 miles northwest on Highway 20, then a little over a mile west on Forest Road 2070, and then a little under a mile south on Forest Road 2066. The lake is about 50 yards from the parking lot.
Known for its resort amenities and boat access, Elk Lake also has a pleasant beach.
With the "resort" (think a bit further to the rustic side of the spectrum of the Catskills of "Dirty Dancing" than Cabo resort) in close proximity, it is not so remote that there aren't lunch or drink options nearby. Slightly more developed than Scout Lake, Elk Lake offers a (just slightly) more pampered but still an adventurous afternoon in the water and sunshine.
Take the Cascades Lakes Highway approximately 22 miles from Bend to Mt. Bachelor. Then continue past Mt. Bachelor for approximately 11 more miles until you reach the signs for Elk Lake Resort, where you should then turn left. The "beach" is on the south end of the lake.