Skip to main content
  1. Travel
  2. Local Getaways

Lake Billy Chinook - So, where's the Pterodactyls?

See also

Except for road signs and small billboards, a lake, especially this size, would be the last sight you'd expect in this otherwise parched, dusty environment - but this acquatic wonder of approximately four-thousand acres, gobbles up the attention like a belly dancer in a barber shop.

Lake Billy Chinook could pass for a million-year-old natural geologic creation, when in fact, it's younger than the hula hoop craze of the 1950's. While towering basalt cliff surrounding the lake give it an antediluvian appearance, no pterodactyl, those flying reptiles from the Triassic/Cretaceous Period, ever soared over Lake Billy Chinook - not because they exist, but rather, the lake didn't.

In 1964, Portland General Electric (Oregon), in an effort to stabilize a power supply to private utilities, built Round Butte Dam on the Deschutes River. At a cost of sixty-two-million dollars, it is primarily comprised of compacted rock material, as opposed to an earthen dam. The Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked Rivers fill the reservoir (the lake), to power the dam. It's overall dimensions, four-hundred-forty feet tall, thirteen hundred-twenty feet wide, and fifteen-hundred-seventy feet thick at the base, make it a pretty impressive creation.

So, what's with the name Lake Billy Chinook? Is that a fish - like salmon, or, a person? Actually, Billy Chinook was a Wasco Indian. Orphaned as a child, he grew up at the Wascopam Mission in The Dalles, Oregon. Many successful achievments on behalf of his people garnered him the honor of having the lake named after him. So, what 'achievements' are we talking about? Billy Chinook was part of the John C. Fremont expedition into Oregon in it's statehood infancy, and as an advocate for his native tribe in the negotiation of the Treaty of 1855.

But, it's not just the lake in itself that draws attention. What's that old realtor's mantra? Location, location, location. The landscape of sagebrush and juniper-covered buttes, doesn't exactly conjoin with that much water, but it draws a lot of wildlife - mule deer, coyotes, bobcat, and occasionally elk, from surrounding pine forests, and bird-life galore.

The lake however, has more than purpose, it gives pleasure. Thousands of residents from nearby cities and towns, and tourists from every state and many countries, use the lake for various forms of year-round recreation - swimming, boating, fishing, camping, hiking it's seventy-two mile shoreline, the possibilities are practically endless. If you're a fisher-person you can try your luck at Kokanee salmon, bull trout, Dolly Varden and bass. There are several campgrounds located at the lake, with Cove Palisades being it's premier provider of kayak and houseboat rentals.

Lake Billy Chinook is located approximately thirty miles north of Bend, Oregon, off Highway 97, near the small community of Culver.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Billy_Chinook

Advertisement

Today's top buzz...

  • Mead
    Cool new tablet covers and folios in designs that will take you back to your school days
    Camera
    6 Photos
  • Blossom Music Center
    Bad Company, Lynyrd Skynyrd deliver double dose of hits at Blossom Music Center
    Camera
    20 Photos
  • Greek wine
    Unwind with these delicious wines: The thrilling wines of Greece
    Camera
    7 Photos
  • 'Wish I Was Here'
    Zach Braff and Kate Hudson do dysfunctional-family comedy in 'Wish I Was Here'
    Camera
    18 Photos
  • Raku
    Teachers and students can use this summer to learn a new skill
    Camera
    15 Photos
  • LPGA golfers
    Check out the beautiful LPGA golfers competing at the 2014 International Crown
    Camera
    19 Photos