A Guide to Hiking Tumalo Falls Near Bend, Oregon

Just west of Bend, where the high-desert terrain gives way to the forest foothills of the Cascade Range, sits Tumalo Falls—undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Central Oregon.

There, the 97-foot waterfall tumbles into a canyon while surrounded by what appears to be a curtain of basalt rock in the Deschutes National Forest. From there, Tumalo Creek snakes away from the base of the waterfall in a forest of fir and pine. 

It’s an iconic sight in Central Oregon—and part of what makes the jaw-dropping view so special is that it doesn’t demand a back-breaking hike, timed-entry permit, or backcountry knowhow. Rather, visitors must only walk a few steps from their vehicle to bask in the beauty of Tumalo Falls. (Of course, numerous hikes lead into the forest above the waterfall as well.) 

If you’d like to lay eyes upon Tumalo Falls for yourself, here’s a guide to planning a memorable trip, understanding the various viewpoints around the waterfall, and taking your adventures to the next level:

Ready to visit Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon? Keep reading to get inspired and plan the perfect visit.

Planning Your Visit to Tumalo Falls

Here’s what to know about planning the perfect trip to Tumalo Falls.

Location: The Tumalo Falls Day Use Area, just below the waterfall, sits about 14 miles west of downtown Bend via NW Galveston Ave. (which becomes Skyliners Road on the city’s westside). The drive typically takes about 30 minutes from downtown Bend, 45 minutes from Sunriver, and just more than 50 minutes from Redmond. The final few miles to Tumalo Falls are on a gravel road that is well-maintained and accessible to sedans.

Passes and permits: A $5 recreation pass is required to park at the day-use area; visit the U.S. Forest Service website about Tumalo Falls for a complete list of accepted passes and to purchase your own pass.

Parking and access: Tumalo Falls is one of the most popular summertime hotspots anywhere in Central Oregon—so try to arrive before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to secure a parking spot and enjoy a quieter experience on weekends. Midweek visits also offer a bit more solitude. Finally: The parking lot isn’t large; vehicles longer than 27 feet should not attempt a visit. And please pay attention to “No Parking” signs along the road to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience for all visitors.

Visiting Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon

Winter visits: Between November and May, the road to the Tumalo Falls Day Use Area closes about three miles east of the falls—cutting off vehicle access; if visiting in winter, be prepared for a six-mile (round-trip) walk, snowshoe trek, or cross-country skiing jaunt between Skyliners Sno-Park/Trailhead (near where the road closes) and the base of the waterfall.

Tumalo State Park: Before heading out, make sure you’re heading to Tumalo Falls and not Tumalo State Park. The state park hosts a fun day-use area and campground—but sits about 15 minutes north of Bend and is not home to any waterfalls. (You’d be surprised how often visitors unknowingly enter the wrong destination into their phone’s GPS app.) 

Tumalo Falls Day Use & Trailhead Viewpoint

Viewpoint of Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon

Once you arrive at the day-use area, you’ll encounter a few signboards explaining, among other topics, the area’s history with wildfire and the importance of the Tumalo Creek watershed to the ecosystems of Central Oregon. A shady picnic area and vault toilet are also on-site.

Just a few steps away is your first glimpse of Tumalo Falls, which tumbles in the midst of a tree-lined canyon—creating one of the most-photographed sites in all of Central Oregon. Many visitors turn around here, satisfied with the dramatic view, but a 0.4-mile (round-trip) trail ascends to a platform and up-close viewpoint near the top of the waterfall. The trail continues on from here if you’d like to hike above the waterfall, covered in the next section.

Tumalo Falls Trails

Hiking Tumalo Falls is one of the best things to do in the area—and it’s easy to choose a trip suited to your abilities and time constraints.

For starters, it’s a 0.4-mile (round-trip) walk from the Tumalo Falls Trailhead and day-use area to the upper Tumalo Falls viewpoint—where up-close views of the 97-foot waterfall await.

If you’d like to continue hiking, it’s easy to follow the Tumalo Falls Trail into the surrounding forest; from Tumalo Falls, the well-maintained path ascends gradually without ever straying far from the banks of Tumalo Creek.

Several smaller waterfalls cascade in to Tumalo Creek, and each makes a great turnaround point. If you’d like to turn around at Double Falls, your trek will measure about two miles (round-trip) with about 300 feet of elevation gain. Further upstream, the wide Middle Tumalo Falls is another popular stop; from the trailhead, the four-mile (round-trip) hike gains about 520 feet. Ambitious hikers, meanwhile, can tackle the full Tumalo Falls Loop Hike—which measures 8.2 miles (round-trip), ascends into the Happy Valley area, and features about 1,550 feet of elevation gain; this loop, generally accessible between late June and mid-October, passes at least six waterfalls.

Note that leashed dogs are permitted on the Tumalo Falls Trail—but not on the Bridge Creek Trail (which is part of the broader, 8.2-mile loop mentioned above).

Excited to hit the trail? Learn all about hiking in Central Oregon.

Beyond the Falls

Make the most of your visit with post-hike adventures, nearby trails, and bustling campgrounds around Bend.

Camping: Looking to extend your stay in Bend and Central Oregon? The closest campgrounds to Tumalo Falls are The Camp (which hosts sites for vans and RVS in the heart of Bend) and Tumalo State Park (offering seven yurts and more than 75 tent and RV sites about 35 minutes north of the waterfall). Wherever you pitch your tent or park your rig, learn more about camping in Central Oregon.

Nearby hiking trails: If you’d like to see more of the Central Oregon scenery, consider a short hike on the Deschutes River Trail, where five trail segments largely parallel its namesake waterway in Bend. You might also enjoy a hike at Shevlin Park, which sits within Bend city limits and offers views of Tumalo Creek—into which Tumalo Falls flows.

Post-hike fun: Stop into local craft breweries and some of the best restaurants in Bend, Oregon, for post-hike fun. If a beer sounds good, Boss Rambler Beer Club hosts a spacious patio along NW Galveston Avenue—the perfect backdrop for sipping the brewery’s crisp lagers, fruity IPAs, and boozy slushies. Just down the street, El Sancho serves beloved street tacos (with your choice of 11 proteins), tamales, and creative margaritas.

Boss Rambler Beer Club in Bend, Oregon

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