Bend Outdoor Attractions: Where to Play and Explore

Bend, located in central Oregon, ranks among Outdoor magazine’s best towns. Part of its appeal is the Bend outdoor attractions that beckon nature lovers. From gentle strolls along the river to extreme rock climbing adventures, it’s easy to try new things here. And enjoy the great outdoors. For some ideas, read about these top places.

Bend Outdoor Attractions for Different Adventures

bend tumelo falls

Tumalo Falls

Love waterfalls? Head to Tumalo Falls, a 97-foot cascade within Deschutes National Forest. To find it, head to Tumalo Falls Trail. Hikers should prepare for a 7-mile moderate hike with an elevation gain and multiple falls in the area. Feel free to bring lunch and take lots of photos.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Also located in Deschutes National Forest, Newberry National Volcanic Monument offers a chance to see the Lava Lands of central Oregon. The attraction features 54,000 acres of geologic sites, lakes and lava flows. At the highest point, Paulina Peak, visitors see views of the Cascades, Newberry Caldera and High Desert.

However, the main attraction is Newberry Crater, also known as a caldera. The caldera measures 17 square miles and sits in the heart of the volcano. Newberry is an active volcano that covers 1,200 square miles – about the size of Rhode Island. While visiting, keep an eye out for more than 400 cinder cones and vents.

bend outdoor attractions animals

High Desert Museum

High Desert Museum ranks among the top Bend outdoor attractions for its all-ages appeal. The museum has exhibits inside and outside, and offers 135 acres of place to explore.

Step inside to learn about desert wilderness, Wild West history, Native Americans and local artists. Those who want to observe animals enjoy watching otters swim, birds of prey fly and lizards crawl across the sand. The desertarium provides a safe home to turtles, tortoises, fish, frogs and more. In addition, High Desert Museum cares for injured wildlife.

Smith Rock State Park

Ranked among the best Bend outdoor attractions for adventure, Smith Rock State Park offers activities for active types. Outdoor adventurers find hiking and mountain biking trails, fishing spots, and 1,500 rock climbing routes.

Smith Rock State Park offers 650 acres of geological formations and trails. Mountain bikers have access to multiple options, however they must be over the age of 16 and wear helmets. For hikers, the park manages 12 trails inside the park, with easy to difficult options. Other outdoor activities at Smith Rock State Park include trail running, horseback riding, and sport climbing. The park will recommend guided climbs as well.

bend deschutes river oregon

Photo: iTrip Vacations® Bend

Deschutes River

Deschutes River serves as a playground for the Bend community. It runs through the city and provides the perfect place for water recreation.

Those looking to relax enjoy floating down the river. To amp up the action, try surfing and rafting. Deschutes River also ranks among the best kayak and stand-up paddle board destinations by Outside magazine. Then try a guided fishing trip. Depending on the season, anglers should expect rainbow trout, brook trout and steelhead.

bend outdoor attractions ski

Mount Bachelor

While Mount Bachelor offers year-round recreation opportunities, this area serves as a top place for skiing in Oregon and other snowy fun.

Mount Bachelor has more than a dozen Nordic trails, and hosts ski lessons for all ages. Those who need other winter activities may enjoy sledding, snowshoe tours, lift rides and snow tubing. Want to visit during warmer months? No problem. Visitors have access to mountain biking, rafting, ziplining, golf and hiking.

Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint

Most can see Pilot Butte from anywhere in Bend. This landmark stands 480 feet tall and once served as a navigation point for travelers. Today, people enjoy panoramic views of the Cascades and High Desert from its top.

There are three ways to access Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint. Most people choose between hiking the 1-mile paved road, 1-mile steep nature trail or the base trail that wraps around the volcano.

Drake Park

Located in downtown Bend, Drake Park provides a central spot for outdoor recreation and community events. Visitors enjoy strolling a half-mile of riverfront, picnicking, bicycling and wildlife watching. The park also offers a prime place for viewing fall foliage.

Want to see why Bend is so special? Book a Bend vacation rental today.