Fish Lake Interpretive Day Use

Area Status: Open

This site is the gateway to the Fish Lake Historic Site, also known as the Fish Lake Remount Depot, along the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass and the West Cascades National Scenic Byways.

Long used by Native Americans, the Fish Lake area was an important stop for travelers on the Santiam Wagon Road. The Forest Service first used Fish Lake as a ranger outpost in 1905. During the 1920s, it served as the field and dispatch headquarters for the Santiam National Forest, (the predecessor of the Willamette National Forest).

The day use area with picnic tables and interpretive signs sits adjacent to Fish Lake. A viewing platform takes you to the lake's edge. Fish Lake is a seasonal lake that only has water in winter and spring. In the summer, the water drains underground, leaving a lush meadow.

Two restored remount depot cabins, the Commissary Cabin and the Hall House are open to the public and available to rent for overnight stays each winter from November to early April.

It's thanks to the hard work of Friends of Fish Lake that the area's historic structures have been restored and are open to the public and that future generations will have the opportunity to stand in this place and experience its special history. For more information visit and check out the interpretive videos put together by Spring Fed Media and funded by Friends of Fish Lake.


At a Glance

Area Amenities: Interpretive Site, Picnic tables, Toilets, Parking
Fees: No Fee
Usage: Heavy
Operated By: Willamette National Forest
Information Center: McKenzie River Ranger Station

General Information


Find more accessible recreation opportunities in Pacific Northwest National Forests here.


From McKenzie Bridge, OR, follow Highway 126 east for 22 miles to Fish Lake Interpretive Site.

General Notes:
  • Viewing area, canoe launch, garbage receptacles
  • The lake dries up in the summer time which limits fishing and swimming.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Day Hiking

Viewing Scenery


Lakeshore viewing from picnic area.

No. of Sites 5 picnic sites
Reservation Info No reservations. Sites are available on a first come, first served basis.
No. of Accessible Sites Picnic sites, toilets, and viewing area.


Toilets: Vault

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities



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  Elevation : 
3200 feet