PNW Outdoors

#PNWOutdoors: Local Places To Cool Off During Heat Wave

EUGENE – As the weekend’s impending heat wave has folks looking to cool off, we rundown several spots to stick close to home as the crowds head to the coast and higher elevations.

An Excessive Heat Warning has been issued until Monday for the state with dangerously hot temperatures forecast to top out at 112 in Eugene on Sunday. All of the lower elevations of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon, except for those along the coast, will be in extreme conditions.

The Willamette River is a popular float in town for folks, whether by float tube or kayak for those that are more concerned about just relaxing without a fishing rod in hand.

While bass and crappie are abundant in the valley’s largest body of water, Fern Ridge, on the main lake many paddleboards and kayaks can be spotted with several easy places to enter the water.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife has several close by waters stocked with hatchery trout including Alton Baker Canal and the McKenzie River with several thousand catchables and trophy-sized rainbow trout this spring. Just outside town, Dexter Reservoir has been a productive spot for those wanting to cool off or find a nice rainbow.

Lane County has several other great spots including Dorena Lake just outside Cottage Grove, which had been stocked by ODFW earlier this spring but also provides a great spot for families hoping to picnic and swim.

If you’re hoping to escape the heat by heading toward Bend, guess again with highs merely a few degrees cooler than Eugene. Sunday – the worst day of this week’s heat wave – has a high of 106 forecast for Bend and several popular water spots are nearly dry especially Wickiup Reservior.

March and April of 2021 were among the driest spring months in Oregon since the 1890s. Many streams are already at 25 percent of the flow that is typical for this time of year, with flows usually seen in early summer observed in April on some southern Oregon streams

ODFW is bracing for a serious drought as summer arrives, with the entire state being impacted. Currently, 72 percent of the state is in severe or extreme drought status according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“Unfortunately, we are likely looking at a very tough summer and fall ahead for fish,” Shaun Clements, ODFW Deputy Administrator for Inland Fisheries said earlier this month in an ODFW statement. “It’s possible that ODFW may have to take emergency actions to protect native fish populations due to the drought.”

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In fact, with so many places around town to cool off it may be better to stick close to home this weekend. Several campers were forced to evacuate areas near Warm Springs on Father’s Day last weekend as a wildfire grew quickly to turn the crisp blue sky into and that ominous orange darkness we all endured during the McKenzie River fire.
Those choosing to camp should consider most places have fire bans in place and with the extreme heat event, plan to use gas stoves or grills to prepare meals safely.