Plan Your Visit To
Madras—the county seat of Jefferson County, Oregon—started in the early 1900s to serve the region’s ranchers. Over the years, it grew into a trading post and community for nearby farmers, many of whom grew (and continue to grow) garlic, carrots, onions, and other crops. Even today, you’ll still see ranches on the rolling hillsides outside of town and farms lining US-97—but change is afoot.
As Madras grows, it’s beginning to serve new audiences alongside the longtime standbys. Today, visitors can sample beer and spirits crafted in town, peruse a new wave of growing dispensaries, and find plenty of outdoor recreation—from a skate park and skydiving to camping, boating, hiking, and more. With so much to see—and so much change in recent years—it can be tough to know where to start. So here’s a look at how to plan your next epic trip to Madras.
Map of Madras, Oregon
US-97 runs north-south through town and offers easy access to most of the city’s best-loved attractions.
But getting off the highway and exploring the area beyond city limits is a rewarding experience.
Here’s a map to help you get started, whether staying in town or traveling further afield.
Plan your adventure to Central Oregon.
Half Day Boat Trip: Cascade Lakes
A fly fishing trip to one of the Cascade Lakes is best suited for anglers looking for relatively low impact and highly productive outings. If you are interested in a positive first fishing experience with your son, daughter, or non-angling spouse, consider a trip to East Lake or Lava Lake. During the peak of the season on either lake, we can practically guarantee they catch some fish.
Limited Entry Cave Tour
Adventure: Wanderlust Tours is the premier destination for cave tours in Bend, Oregon! Join us on this epic subterranean tour on Bend’s ponderosa pine-studded high desert. Our renowned naturalist guides will highlight sweet bits of these cool caverns that might not initially meet the eye. This experience is private, not a public accessible cave. Naturalist Guided Experience: During our 2 hours underground, in the darkest, quietest spot earth can provide, we may impart an understanding of the region’s geology- how massive volcanoes created these wonders. Or we might share how the cave habitat provides for creatures important to human life. Your crew will be energized with revelations about natural and cultural history that’ll keep your mind humming with delight long after you return home with fond memories of the tour. Caves: Bend’s lava caves have a delicate ecosystem that few have experienced to the fullest! Wanderlust Tours is the only guide company permitted in these special lava caves. These caves are also wild, meaning they do not have a paved path or lighting. Closed toe shoes are recommended for navigating the uneven rocky surfaces. Cave Difficulty: Mother Nature has created a wonderfully diverse array of caves that offer a variety of experiences. All of the caves we visit are wild, meaning other than the staircase to enter them there are no man made improvements put into the caves (walkways or lights). The walking surface is uneven and can be varying degrees of rugged and rocky.In our estimation, this cave presents an easier degree of difficulty. The walking surface is mostly level and sandy with occasional rocky sections. There are still fun opportunities towards the back of the cave for some scrambling and crawling for those interested.On all our cave tours, our guides are attentive to keeping the pace suitable to all members of the group so that everyone can move at a comfortable speed.
$85 - $110
Basic Skills Kayaking
This Basic Skills Kayaking Class will prepare participants to confidently explore our region’s waterways.The Basic Skills Kayaking Course will prepare you to confidently explore our region's lakes and rivers.A great launching point for the aspiring life-long kayaker. Tumalo Creek’s basic skills kayaking class will prepare you to confidently explore our area lakes and slow moving rivers. Expect to learn comprehensive safety, basic paddle strokes, maneuvering, and simple rescues. Although we encourage you to practice rescues, this course is "challenge by choice" and going for a swim is not required. We only expect that you participate in activities most comfortable for you. This course is a great starting point for beginning kayakers and makes a great refresher for the seasonal paddler.This class is geared towards adults therefore we recommend a minimum age of 15. Please call the shop with any questions.
Deschutes River Photo Tour
Running through the middle of Bend, the Deschutes River offers plenty of amazing photo ops. Whether we decide to go through downtown Bend, Dillon Falls, or Shevlin Park, the Deschutes River never disappoints.This tour can include some moderate walking. We'll show you our favorite shots based on how active you want to be.Private Tour capped at 2 people to ensure personalized instruction and individualized attention.Tour Price: $299 up to 2 people
Local Pour Craft Beverage Tour
About The Local Pour Craft Beverage TourAdventure: Wanderlust Tours is the premier provider of craft beverage tours in the Bend, Oregon area! Tasting, enjoying friends, comfort and safety are what you can expect on this trail of sipping adventure. Naturalist Guided Experience: Bend’s locally owned pour houses provide tantalizing tastes for the curious tongue! Did you know Bend is home to artisan distilleries, cideries, wineries and kombucha breweries? Join us on a Local Pour adventure to try delectable samples and see behind-the-scenes at a local production facility— get the best of all taste-bud-arousing-worlds in this immersive craft beverage tour!Libation Stops: Your professional guide will provide insights into the processes of distillation, fermentation, and the craft of libation production. Each Local Pour Tour is unique, visiting our partners at their availability. Your expert guides will provide personally tailored information about fermentation science.Three pour houses, with a behind-the-scenes look and light appetizers at one stop.
Scenic Hot Air Balloon Flight
We operate flights from Smith Rock Ranch in Terrebonne OR, about a 30 minute drive north of Bend. When preparing for your flight with us remember to dress warmly and in layers. Early mornings are always cool in the high dessert, but it warms up quickly and you'll want to adjust accordingly. Temperatures in flight are actually much warmer than on the ground. A hat and comfortable shoes or boots are recommended, no open toed shoes or sport sandals.We conduct one flight a day early in the morning when wind conditions are calm and the air is stable. Safety is our top priority, flights are conducted only when the weather and wind conditions are favorable. Departure times vary from 6AM-8AM depending on the time of year. We will check-in with you the night before your scheduled flight to confirm the meeting time and location. we typically like to be in the air within 1 hour of sunrise.Flight time is approximately one hour with the entire experience taking about three hours. We can carry up to six passengers per flight, cost is $275/person for 2 and $250/person when booking 4 or more. Please inquire for private charters. All passengers must sign the Flight Waiver prior to your scheduled flight.
$250 - $275
Cascade Lakes Tour (4 Hours)
Cascade Lake Adventure! Amazing Experience through the Cascades of Oregon. Drive or ride in your private Polaris RZR. Outriders will show you the way through the true back country of Central Oregon. The fresh air and beauty of Central Oregon will surround you. Come check out the fascinating terrain of The Deschutes National Forest
Night Photography Tour
Since Bend is located in such an amazing spot with hardly any ambient light, it lends it's self to some awesome night photography. Whether it's the milky way, star trails, light writing or the moon... we can target your tour to your specific night photo goals.Private Tour capped at 2 people to ensure personalized instruction and individualized attention.Tour Price: $325 up to 2 people
Cascade Lakes Kayak Tours
Join us on this iconic paddling tour on the high elevation mountain lakes in the mighty Cascade Range.Adventure: Wanderlust Tours is the premier destination for canoe tours in Bend, Oregon! Join us on this iconic paddling tour on the high elevation mountain lakes in the mighty Cascade Range. Naturalist Guided Experience: Our renowned naturalist guides will highlight the sweet spots on these stunning lakes that might not initially meet the eye. During our 2 hours on the water, along with the fun and sun, we may impart an understanding of the region’s geology- how fire and ice built and sculpted our landscape. Or we might highlight how wetlands surrounding the lake provide incredible habitat for vocal avians amped on finding great lakeside food! Your crew will be energized with revelations about natural and cultural history that’ll keep your mind humming with delight long after you return home with fond memories of the tour. Location: Wear your swimsuit for a refreshing dip along with eco-friendly sunscreen! You’ll see parts of these large lakes that are only accessible by paddling into the fingers, coves, bays, and wetlands created by ancient eruptions and erosion. With sweeping views of our local mountains, our Bend, Oregon canoe tours have it all!Our kayaks are tandem sit-on-top models, which are comfortable, fun, and easy to paddle. Kayak tours are best for those over the age of 8, and the weight limit is 450 lbs per kayak. If you want to paddle with younger kids, consider our Canoe Tour!
$75 - $100
Things to Do in Madras, Oregon
Whether you’re spending the day or staying the night, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Madras, Oregon—from outdoor recreation to craft food and beer to one of Central Oregon’s most colorful lavender farms. Here are a few ideas for enjoying your time in Madras.
Photo credit to @valvecovergasket
Sample the city’s best international cuisine: Madras is home to dozens of eateries, from national chains to a growing number of restaurants and food carts serving fare from around the world. The city, in particular, hosts a robust number of Mexican food offerings. Mi Casa Restaurant, for instance, is known for its hefty burritos and filling street tacos crafted with homemade tortillas; nearby, Rio Distinctive Mexican Cuisine serves a menu of inventive dishes that draw on both modern and traditional influences. Still hungry? Check out more Madras, Oregon restaurants to find your next favorite meal.
Visit the Erickson Aircraft Collection: Just north of Madras, the Erickson Aircraft Collection showcases a private collection of more than 20 rare, vintage aircraft—some of which date back to World War II and many of which are still in flying condition today. If the aircraft collection grabs your attention, make time for other museums across Central Oregon that showcase natural history, the region’s earliest residents, and more.
Catch some air at Madras Bike & Skate Park: Beginners and experts alike find plenty to love about Madras Bike & Skate Park, which hosts several fun features—such as deep bowls, rails, and ramps—that cater to athletes of all skill levels. A set of bleachers even encourages parents to stick around and watch their little boarders and BMX riders test their mettle. Want to know where else you can shred around the region? Learn more about Central Oregon skateparks.
Visit The Cove Palisades State Park: Just a half-hour southwest of town is The Cove Palisades State Park, one of the most popular hiking, boating, and angling destinations anywhere in Central Oregon. The park sits where the Crooked, Deschutes, and Metolius rivers come together to form Lake Billy Chinook, the backbone of the park’s outdoor recreation opportunities. Watercraft and water toy rentals are available between April and October, a few hiking trails crisscross the park, and wildlife viewing (especially of raptors soaring overhead) is a popular pastime in the park’s high-desert expanse. And while Lake Billy Chinook might be massive, with 72 miles of shoreline, it’s far from the region’s only body of water—so learn more about the lakes in Central Oregon.
Visit the city’s dispensaries: Since Oregon voters approved a measure to legalize marijuana in 2014, dispensaries have grown (sorry) like weeds around the state—and Madras is no exception, with a handful of dispensaries around town. Plantae, for instance, sources its flower from a farm in Central Oregon—and sells concentrates, edibles, topicals, and more.
Find Your Next
Explore the area’s nightlife: Whether you want to kick back or keep the party going, Madras has plenty of nightlife to suit your needs. Madras Brewing Co. brews its own beers and pours a variety of wines and cocktails to pair with a food menu that leans heavily on wood-fired pizza. And just south of town, in the community of Metolius, the Desert Inn Sports Bar and Grill boasts a lively atmosphere with pool tables, shuffleboard, a classic pub food menu, a full bar, TVs for catching the big game, and an outdoor beer garden with a horseshoe pit, fire pit, and a stage for live music. Want to know where else to grab a drink, play pool, or hear some live music around town? Get details on the bars in Madras, Oregon.
Taste the spirit of Madras: When you sip a spirit from New Basin Distilling Company, you’re truly enjoying a taste of Madras. The distillery sources its grains from a Madras farm and prides itself on crafting small-batch spirits—including vodka and a variety of whiskeys. Want to learn more about the city’s craft beverage producers? Kick back with more on distilleries in Madras, Oregon.
Try your hand at skydiving: The Madras-based Skydive Awesome! showcases some of the best views in Oregon while offering one of the most thrilling experiences anywhere in the region; certified instructors have completed thousands of dives and specialize in tandem skydiving—making the activity accessible to divers of all skill levels. Views range from the Cascade Range to Lake Billy Chinook to Central Oregon’s high-desert landscape.
Enjoy a summertime visit to Cascade Lavender Farm: Every summer, the normally tan landscape of Central Oregon’s high desert is awash in vibrant hues of pink, blue, white, and (of course) deep purple at Cascade Lavender Farm. Between late June and early August, visitors can pick their own lavender from more than 4,000 plants—and other family-friendly attractions include a plant nursery, lavender shop, farm animals, and more.
Madras, Oregon Accommodations
If you’re coming from points north, Madras acts as a kind of gateway to Central Oregon—making the city a popular overnight stop. Plenty of international chains line US-97 through town, but if you’re looking for something a little more local, consider the Inn at Cross Keys Station; the three-story, 72-room hotel offers a wealth of amenities—including an indoor pool and hot tub, outdoor patio, free Wi-Fi, and an exercise room.
If you’re looking to rough it a bit, several RV parks and campgrounds can be found nearby. In particular, The Cove Palisades State Park hosts some of the best camping in Central Oregon, with more than 250 sites and three cabins spread across two campgrounds; amenities include flush toilets, showers, ranger-led interpretive programs, and easy access to nearby Lake Billy Chinook.
More stories from Madras
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Warm-Weather Fun in Madras, Oregon
Central Oregon is a treasure of towns with endless good times and secret spots that are not to be missed. Take Madras, Oregon, with its population of 7,000 people and convergence of two canyons from the Crooked River and the Deschutes River. It’s a magical setting with lots of wildlife, interesting sights you won’t find anywhere, and views for days.
Hopless in Central Oregon: Experience Scenic Cideries and Vino with a View
In an area dominated by craft beer, you might be wondering is there anything else on tap? The answer is, ‘Yes’. Central Oregon is home to award winning cideries and wineries and with postcard-worthy views from their tasting rooms – you won’t be disappointed. Named after the Three Sisters, Faith Hope and Charity Vineyards is just over 30 miles from Bend. It’s hard to complain about the drive though when furry faces from the Alpaca farm nearby greet you right before you turn onto the property.
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.
Airshow of the Cascades – Sky High Thrills for the Family
For 20 years, Madras has been home to one of the more unsung family events in the region, the Airshow of the Cascades. It’s Oregon’s second-largest air show, giving people a chance to get up close and personal to aviation history both on the ground and in the air. You’ll see vintage and high-tech aircraft doing stunts and flying through a wall of fire.
Winter Isn’t Only About Snow in Central Oregon
It’s true that when winter rolls around in Central Oregon, most people’s minds veer toward things to do in the snow. With Mt. Bachelor, Hoodoo, sno-parks and more, there’s plenty of options for folks to get out and play.
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.