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.
Winter Tours You Have to Try in Bend and Central Oregon
Twinkling lights, fresh snow and fire pits bringing people together; it’s winter in Central Oregon! Bend and the surrounding towns within Central Oregon are great places to cozy up when the snow falls, and even better places to take part in winter recreation. Locals love to explore the nearby Cascade Mountains, with Mount Bachelor and plenty of sno parks located just a 30 minute drive away. Back in town, there are several breweries, cideries, wineries and distilleries waiting to be sampled. With so much to do, it can be tough to know where to start. Luckily, tours in Central Oregon that showcase the best outdoor and indoor recreation are available to help visitors make the most of their winter vacations.
Hot Springs in Central Oregon Near Bend and 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.
The Ultimate Guide to Pumpkin Patches in Terrebonne, Oregon
Nothing signals the coming of fall quite like spending the day at a pumpkin patch. It’s tough to not feel the cozy spirit of the season when you’re solving a festive corn maze while bundled up and sipping a hot apple cider. Pumpkin patches in Central Oregon benefit from our desert climate and still get plenty of sunshine, even in late October. While smaller family farms all around the region will sometimes host fall events, the two most popular pumpkin patches both reside in Terrebonne: the Smith Rock Pumpkin Patch and the DD Ranch Pumpkin Patch.
Central Oregon Campgrounds: Tumalo State Park
Forested setting: Check. Gentle flowing river to cool off in: Check. Toilets: Check. Showers: Check. Access to amenities in town: Check, check and check. Tumalo State Park is the state park in Bend’s backyard. It’s located outside the city limits but it’s just a couple of turns and a short, pretty drive from the middle of town.
Central Oregon Golf: Best Par 3s
Play a good golf course and chances are that when you’re back at the 19th hole, you’re talking about the Par 3s. The short one you made double on. The bear where you snaked in a 20-footer for your only birdie all month. They’re the “short” holes that can make or break a round. Some of the signature holes on the Central Oregon Golf Trail are Par 3s. Here’s a look at some of the best.
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.
Pole, Pedal and Paddle Whenever You Want in Central Oregon
Every May in Bend some 3,100 people participate in the US Bank Pole, Pedal, Paddle multi-sport race. (And there’s still time to sign up for this year’s event, held on May 20th.)
Casual Family Weekend in Sunriver
Imagine this: you’re riding your bike through a rolling meadow, the Cascade mountain range in the background, and the only sound is from the whir of a prop plane taking off against a crisp blue sky. Up ahead, your children pull carrots from their pockets and present them to a gathering of friendly horses in an adjacent pasture.
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.)
The Central Oregon Adventure 6-Pack
6 ADVENTURES…1 DAY….A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES. “You should do it,” they said. “Think about how cool it’d be,” they told me. “You get to do it during the work day, ya know,” they reminded me. So I said yes.