History of Lake Billy Chinook

 

Approximately 11 million years ago alternating layers of basaltic lava, volcanic debris and stream sediments flowed East from the Cascade Mountains into the Lake Billy Chinook Area. These layers were later covered by lava produced by volcanoes from this same Cascade Mountain Range. This can easily be seen along the steep cliffs and vertical walls that guard this beautiful body of water.

Although called Lake Billy Chinook, it is actually a man made reservoir created in 1964 by the creation of the Round Butte Dam by Portland General Electric. The reservoir is the result of the Round Butte Dam backing up the Crooked River, The Deschutes River and the Metolius River. The forces of these rivers carved the deep canyons that you see today. The hydroelectric facilities at the dam are now co-managed by PGE and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

The name Billy Chinook comes from a local Native American of the Wasco Tribe. Billy Chinook was a guide for John C. Fremonts expedition in 1843 and 1844.

The land surrounding Lake Billy Chinook is primarily public lands. There are approximately 4,000 surface acres of water and 72 miles of shoreline. The reservoirs deepest point is near the dam and around 400 feet deep. The water level at the reservoir is full or very nearly full mid June through mid September. This offers exceptional water sports activities, scenery, recreation and fishing opportunities.