Camping, Fishing, Swimming & Hiking in the Oregon Cascades
Visitors to Detroit, Oregon enjoy touring Detroit Dam, fishing on Detroit Lake, camping along the lakeshore, and hiking in the Cascade Mountains and national forests.
Whether to fish, camp, hike, or swim, Detroit Lake is a great place to cool off during the summer months or enjoy winter recreation. Detroit Lake and the city of Detroit are located about 50 east of Salem, along Highway 22. Visitors to Detroit Lake are awed by magnificent views of Mt. Jefferson, beautifully reflecting off the lake surface. The lake is surrounded by forests, which makes for excellent bird watching and wildlife viewing.
Camping is an excellent lodging option during the summer months at Detroit Lake. However, campgrounds and day-use areas can be very crowded as temperatures rise and Salem residents look for a place to cool off. As the drive from Salem is under 90 minutes, Detroit Lake is a favorite place for Willamette Valley residents to visit during the spring and summer months. Detroit Lake State Park Campground does accept reservations so visitors are advised to call or go online to reserve sites early.
Parks and Campgrounds at Detroit Lake
Detroit Lake State Park is open from mid-March to September 30th. The park closes for the season on October 1st. The campground offers nearly 300 sites, including 106 full hookups, 72 electrical, and 133 tent sites. The park also has 82 boat slips for those wanting to boat on the lake. Detroit Lake State Park also has 3 universal access sites for those campers with disabilities. The large campground offers 2 swimming areas, wildlife viewing, a visitors center, and a gift shop, where campers can buy camping supplies and firewood. The campground also offers day-use areas for picnicking and swimming. There is a $3 day-use fee. One of the most popular events at Detroit Lake is the annual fireworks display over the lake. This is the most popular camping weekend of the year.
The Mongold Day Use Area is located just 1.5 miles west of the Detroit Lake State Park. This is the only public boat launch area on the lake. Mongold offers a large swimming area, picnic area, and a large paved boat ramp. Mongold had 58 car parking spaces, 120 vehicle/ trailer spaces, and several other parking areas. Yet, even with this ample parking, parking at the lot can be tricky during summer months, when the park is full of visitors. This can result in visitors parking along the highway, which can be dangerous. Mongold is a first-come, first-served park with a $3 day-use fee.
Fishing at Detroit Lake is one of the most popular activities. Fishing lines tow-in large rainbow trout, catfish, kokanee, and landlocked Chinook. The annual fishing derby is held in early spring, with fishing activities for children. The lake is 400 feet deep and 9 miles long, providing ample room for fishing and boating. Visitors also enjoy water sports like water skiing, boating, swimming, and more.
Detroit Dam and Big Cliff Dam
One site visitors should not miss is a chance to visit the Detroit Dam. Built in 1953 by the Army Corps of Engineers, the 463 ft tall dam was one of the highest of its time. Visitors can arrange a guided tour of Detroit Dam. There are 2 dams and 2 lakes in the Detroit area: Detroit Dam and Big Cliff Dam. Big Cliff Dam is located 3 miles downstream from Detroit Dam. According to the Army Corps of Engineers “operations at Big Cliff Dam may cause the lake level to fluctuate as much as 24 feet daily.” The dams regulate the flow of water for the North Santiam River Canyon. Both are power generating facilities.
Detroit Ranger Station
Another place of interest in Detroit is the Detroit Ranger Station and the U.S. Forest Service office. The station is located just across the highway from the entrance to the Detroit Lake State Park. The ranger station provides information and maps for hikers and other activities in the area. Visitors can check the fire danger for the area by looking for the Fire Danger sign out front.