Scenic Bikeways Showcase Central Oregon’s Backroad Beauty
Oregon’s official scenic bikeways are the first of their kind in the U.S – and Central Oregon is home to 6 of the state’s 11 most beautiful bike routes. An absolute summer must for road cyclists are riding the best of the best – our scenic bikeways. Every rider can find a ride to suit their style and mood, from family-friendly to adventurous.
Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway
Riders begin the 37 mile out-and-back journey in the historic community of Prineville. The bikeway follows the Crooked River south out of town, giving riders picturesque views of the surrounding llama farms and cattle ranches.
The route leaves the pastures behind as it enters the Crooked River Canyon. The road slips through the canyon’s towering basalt cliffs, gently curving and climbing to a scenic view near Palisades Campground before descending back toward the river. Riders will pedal by Chimney Rock Recreation Site, a popular picnicking spot and fun place to watch local anglers fly fish in the Crooked River.
The final stretch of the Crooked River Scenic Bikeway continues through the canyon and passes by several other day-use sites and campgrounds. Observant riders might spot resident wildlife like deer, great blue herons and golden eagles. The bikeway ends at Big Bend Campground, which has parking, restrooms, water and power.
Twin Bridges Scenic Bikeway
This 36-mile ride begins in Bends downtown Drake Park and follows an engaging, moderately hilly course past the city limits into farm and ranch country, rolling through rimrock canyons with views of snowcapped peaks. Cross the Deschutes River at Twin Bridges Road, and stop in the quaint town of Tumalo. Dip your feet in the cool, clear water, get lunch or sip a latte before powering home. With no extended climbs, it’s a great way to fill your lungs with mountain-fresh air and take in the sublime scenery.
McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway
This challenging 37-mile route winds through deep forests, climbing to a volcanic lava-rock moonscape summit. This is likely the most interesting and beautiful scenery you’ll ever get on a bike ride. Stop at the Dee Wright Observatory, built from lava rock, and take in spectacular views of the Three Sisters mountains. A huge bonus: most of this ride is on Route 242 (on the U.S. Register of Historic Places), and it’s open to bicycles in spring.
Sisters to Smith Rock Scenic Bikeway
This moderate 37-mile route weaves through Sisters Country to Smith Rock State Park’s impressive rock walls. The Crooked River winds at the base of the volcanic, multicolored formations towering above the valley floor. Watch rock climbers from all over the world tackle thousands of ascent routes. The varied, rolling terrain is generally downhill from Sisters. It is a perfect point-to-point ride if you leave a support vehicle in the public parking areas at each end.
Madras Mountain View Scenic Bikeway
This 30-mile loop through high desert and basalt palisades provides sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains and almost no traffic. Begin and end in small, friendly downtown Madras. Pedal to the stunning overlook above Cove Palisades State Park and Lake Billy Chinook to glimpse eagles and other raptors soaring. Wind through the little towns of Culver and Metolius, stopping for refreshments along lightly trafficked roads. This area’s mild winters offer great year-round riding, with sun-drenched days extending throughout winter, spring, and fall.
Metolius River Loops
These loops vary from short, family-friendly rides of about three miles, to a moderate, 24-mile ride if you connect several of the shorter loops. The loops begin and end at the 90-year-old Camp Sherman Store and Fly Shop. Travel along the wild and scenic waters of the Metolius River to the Wizard Falls fish hatchery where kids can feed the trout, kokanee and Atlantic salmon. Educational signs describe how the headwaters of the Metolius mark the marvelous beginning of the 28-mile river that flows through meadow and forest and careens through canyon walls before it empties into Lake Billy Chinook. Take in all hues of green in the spring and summer, or stunning reds, yellows, and oranges throughout the fall.
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Best Hot Springs in Central Oregon, Bend & Beyond
Oregon is known for being an outdoor paradise; where else can travelers discover misty forests, snowy mountain peaks and vast desert expanses in one day? From the Cascade Mountains to the Painted Hills, volcanic activity has helped shape the many different landscapes of Oregon. Along with mountains and valleys, Oregon’s volcanic past helped create a host of hot springs scattered across the state. These hot springs are natural, hot pools of water—natural hot tubs. Some are more developed and have lodging nearby, while others feel completely remote and undiscovered. So whether it’s a soak under the stars in the high desert or a steamy pool in the forest, there’s a hot spring calling.
Central Oregon Mountain Bike Trail Guide
The Central Oregon mountain bike scene is 300 miles of diverse singletrack through high alpine forests and sagebrush dotted deserts from Madras to La Pine, Sisters to Prineville. Bulletin newspaper reporter Mark Morical has ridden just about every one of the trails you’ll find on any mountain bike trail map – and he’s written about his experience.
Hiking Black Butte – Central Oregon’s Iconic & Majestic Cinder Cone
From a distance, Black Butte looks like it doesn’t quite match the picturesque alpine mountains that surround it. The volcanic rock that emerges above the tree line gives the impression of a hill constructed with loose stones that was carelessly dropped in the middle of the woods. Unlike the Cascades that puncture the horizon to the west and north, Black Butte can be hiked and enjoyed in under four hours.
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Deschutes River is a Central Oregon
Playground For All
You can hear them before you see them. About 30 four-legged endurance athletes chomping at the bit for another chance to prove their worth and provide you with an ear-to-ear grin that will last an entire day.
Central Oregon Winter Adventures
When the snow flies, Central Oregon shines. All you have to do is choose your adventure.
8 Pictures That Will Have You Rethinking Some Life Decisions (Central Oregon Food Edition)
Is this plate from 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar art or food? (It’s food. Definitely food.)
Newport Market Mural-a Tribute to the Spirit of Bend
A picture is worth a thousand words. But the new hand-painted mural outside Bend’s Newport Avenue Market will be worth a million smiles.
Central Oregon Hiking Trails
Head east on Highway 20 (Greenwood Avenue) to the Pilot Butte State Park. The parking area and trailhead are just east of the butte. Walk on either the nature trail or the paved road. The road is also for vehicle traffic, weather permitting. It is a wonderful viewpoint for the entire Bend area. This hiking trail is one of the most popular in Central Oregon.
Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Pull Off For a Central Oregon Adventure
The Cascade Lakes Scenic byway is one of the prettiest drives in the U.S. But it might be the most recreationally rich road you’ll ever drive too. From Bend southwest to the Highway 58 junction, the Oregon Route 372 cuts through 66 miles unique volcanic formations and geological beauty that offers everything that makes Central Oregon an outdoor lover’s paradise.