9 Adrenaline Pumping Adventures in Central Oregon

15 min read

Sure, you could just sit around by the pool, ski, play some golf or take a leisurely hike along the river trail during a visit to Central Oregon. That right there is a fab vacation.

But why not do something that really gets the heart pumping? Something that will have you equally scared and excited. Something that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Central Oregon has a bunch of high-octane adventures ready to help you take your vacation to the next level. Here’s our list of 9 Central Oregon adventures that will send your ticker into overdrive!

Fly Cascades Winter Wonderland Heli Tour

1. Helicopter Tours

Your heart starts beating more rapidly as soon as you step on the tarmac and make your way to the chopper. From there, your BPM likely will hover in the 110s as the helicopter gains altitude and starts flying over some of Central Oregon’s most iconic mountain peaks. See Smith Rock, the Deschutes River, Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top and South Sister like you’ve never seen before as the wind whips through the open doors of your aerial chariot. Big Mountain Heli Tours offers a variety of customizable tours.

2. Backcountry ATV Tours

Buckle up for the ultimate all-terrain adventure as you set out for a half-day tour of Central Oregon’s lava fields, forests, and high desert. Outriders NW offers you the opportunity to pilot the car or just ride along. With over 3,000 square miles of sparkling lakes, spectacular mountains, and wide-open deserts, safely access the rugged forest and high desert to explore and experience the unseen natural beauty, that most people never see in a lifetime.

3. Aerobatic Adventure Flights

For the person who wants to experience the thrills and joys of aerobatic flight without taking the controls. At Advanced Flight Dynamics, you come to their squadron, get your briefing, strap into the airplane, and set off for up to 20 minutes of extreme fun in their Xtreme Decathlon airplane while our pilot does all the flying. The pilots will fly as gentle or extreme as you like. When you return you can watch the video of your flight so all can watch and take it home with you.

4. Downhill Mountain Biking

As an extension to the 300+ miles of mountain bike singletrack offered here in Central Oregon, The Mt. Bachelor Bike Park offers lift-served access to an additional 13 miles of downhill oriented trails. The ski area’s beginner lift, Sunshine Accelerator serves as a great introduction to the bike park for all ability levels. From there, riders can progress to Pine Marten Express where a combination of machine built and single track trails provide a thrill for any adventurous spirit – from intermediate runs to advance double black diamond trails.


5. Rock Climbing at Smith Rock

Smith Rock is the birthplace of American sport climbing and on any given day you’ll see expert climbers scaling the sandstone spires that rise to the sky from the banks of the Crooked River. But here’s the thing: Even expert climbers had to start somewhere. Chockstone Climbing Guides has a variety of guided adventures and courses to let you experience the white-knuckle thrills of rock climbing. No experience necessary – and they provide all the gear.

6. Whitewater Rafting

What good is having a wild and scenic river if you can’t experience the “wild” part every now and then? Central Oregon has a handful of whitewater guides who can help you get up close and personal to one of the region’s most exciting playgrounds. Sun Country Tours runs the hugely popular Big Eddy Thrill Ride daily during the summer – sometimes with a local beer tasting event thrown in for good measure! Other options include Ouzel Outfitters and Imperial River Co. 

7. Bungee Jumping

I’m not sure there’s anything that will get your heart beating more rapidly than literally jumping off of a bridge. Just typing that sentence sent my heart racing. Central Oregon Bungee Adventures gives you the ability to experience the closest thing to actually flying by letting you throw yourself off a bridge at Peter Skene Ogden State Park, into the Crooked River Canyon.

Hot air balloon floating near Bend, Oregon

8. Hot Air Balloon Rides

Experience “The Art of Flight” with Big Sky Balloon Company. Hour long scenic hot air balloon flights provide a one of a kind experience in Central Oregon. Big Sky flies once a day, early in the morning and the flights are very weather dependent. Typically they’re airborne within an hour of sunrise.

Not interested in flying in a balloon? You can just enjoy the scenery at the annual Balloons Over Bend event in late June.

9. Zip Lining

Crater Lake is just 90 minutes south of Bend, making it a perfect day trip for one of the true “must see” natural wonders of the world. Drive about a half hour further and you can experience Oregon’s largest zipline. You’ll experience Oregon at its finest on your 3-hour tour with Crater Lake ZipLine. With magnificent views of Upper Klamath Lake, Cascade Mountain peaks and surrounding National Forest, you’ll be thrilled by the beauty and the adventure.

Looking for some more exciting adventures?

Take your group into the woods for an hour of paintball action with Paintball Paradise. Test your investigative skills with the Bend Escape Room – a physical adventure game where participants are placed into a room and have to use teamwork along with elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit. Each room is themed and has a unique storyline that engages the players through their environment.

Ted Taylor
Ted Taylor
Ted Taylor manages COVA's digital content, media relations, PR and social media. He's an award-winning reporter and editor who has worked in newspaper and televisions newsrooms in Nebraska, Colorado, Arkansas and Oregon. A former assistant golf professional, Ted still loves to sneak in a quick 9, but you're more likely these days to find him on the mountain bike trails when he's not spending time with his family. He's called Bend home for 17 years.