Travel to Visit Prineville, Oregon
Nestled at the eastern edge of Central Oregon, and in the heart of the Crooked River Caldera, Prineville, the oldest city in Central Oregon, has a lot to offer—high-quality food crafted with care, craft beers, and plenty of outdoor recreation as the gateway to the Painted Hills, and a hotbed for year-round angling opportunities. So as you plan your next getaway, here’s how to discover the charms of historic Prineville, Oregon.Take a Virtual Tour
Things To Do In Prineville
Best Time to Visit Prineville, Oregon
Prineville sits at the eastern edge of Central Oregon, where the region’s high desert runs into the foothills of the Ochoco Mountains. Prineville’s mild weather, no matter the month, makes the oldest city in Central Oregon a pleasant place to visit all year long. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect each season.
Agreeable weather is a hallmark of spring in Prineville, with daily high temperatures ranging from 55º in March to 77º in June—the perfect weather for playing in the nearby Painted Hills or hiking through colorful meadows of wildflowers on your way to Steins Pillar. Rainfall is infrequent, with just four to six days of light showers per month.
Everything you love about summer, you'll find around Prineville. Sunny days abound, with high temperatures typically between 75º and 85º; lows, meanwhile, are usually between 40º and 50º. Make the most of summer with a day on the water and a night under the stars at nearby Prineville Reservoir State Park—which is both a bustling campground and a certified International Dark Sky Park.
Breathe in the crisp fall air around Prineville, where high temperatures hover between 55º and 75º and clear, blue skies are broken up only occasionally by the infrequent rain shower. Take advantage of the brisk weather, and savor the area’s fall colors, with a ride along the Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway.
While the Cascade Range sees one snowstorm after another in winter, Prineville’s location in the high desert ensures it remains relatively warm, mild, and dry all season long. Highs range from 45º to 55º; make the most of a weekend by indulging in Prineville’s culinary scene and trying its locally brewed craft beers.
With such a storied past and exciting present—not to mention some of Central Oregon’s most breathtaking outdoor beauty—it’s hard to narrow down what specifically Prineville is known for. But we'll give it our best shot.
Prineville was founded in 1870 and is the oldest city in Central Oregon. Visitors feel that connection to the past in the brick buildings that line Main Street through the heart of town, the neon lights buzzing over businesses that date back decades, and in stone architecture that recalls Prineville’s past (and present) as a trading post for the local ranching community. The city is even home to Oregon’s oldest public structure: the Crook County Courthouse, built in 1909. Best of all: You can learn about that history at the A.R. Bowman Museum, which traces the region's history through exhibits, artifacts, displays, and more. Even with such remarkable history, Prineville’s present and future are no less exciting. A new class of entrepreneurs, for instance, are opening restaurants, breweries, food cart pods, and other exciting businesses to serve locals and visitors alike.
Stay in Prineville
Prineville is known for its laid-back, down-home charm—and that vibe extends to nearby lodgings. Discover Brasada Ranch Resort, just a half-hour southwest of town, for an unforgettable overnight experience that offers comfort, class, and style in equal measure. Attractions at the ranch include indoor and outdoor pools, spas, ranch-to-table dining, a weekly farmers market, nightly s'mores around the resort's fire pits, an open-air Peloton Studio, more than 900 acres of horseback riding, an 18-hole golf course, and summertime activities for kids of all ages. Elsewhere, the bucolic Nestled Inn offers the chance to stay on a 100-acre farm that grows grass and alfalfa; in addition to enjoying a good night's sleep, visitors can hang out with the farm's animals (including cows, alpacas, sheep, and miniature horses) and explore the surrounding hillsides. Discover more lodging options in Prineville.
Dine In Prineville
Prineville has long been surrounded by farms and cattle ranches, a tradition that continues today. So when you head out to eat, chances are good you're enjoying locally sourced meats, fresh herbs and produce, and other elements of farm-to-table fare. Club Pioneer, for instance, opened in 1942 and remains a Prineville institution; the restaurant serves a meat-heavy menu that includes steak and prime rib (sourced from regional farms), seafood, pasta, and more. For a more casual dining experience, Dillon's Grill prides itself on serving burgers crafted with fresh ingredients, authentic barbecue, steak, and seafood—along with 13 rotating taps of quality craft beer from regional breweries. In addition to these filling eateries, the city is home to a variety of cuisines—including tacos, sandwiches, sushi, ice cream, and more—so find your next favorite meal by exploring restaurants in Prineville, Oregon.
Sip In Prineville
If you're looking to fuel up for a day of exploring the Painted Hills or cycling the Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway, Golden Coffee Co. serves its lovingly crafted beverages inside a hip café, while Prineville Coffee Company offers coffee drinks, breakfast, and lunch dishes inside a friendly community gathering spot. And after a long day outdoors, belly up to one of the many bars around Prineville for a locally produced craft beer, wine, cider, or seltzer. Crooked Roots Brewing features popular pours from regional purveyors, the Corral Taproom & Food Carts pairs its beer garden with cart cuisine from around the world, and Wild Ride Brewing's newest taproom pours housemade beers at the eastern edge of town.
Things to Do in Prineville, OR
Outdoor enthusiasts find plenty to love about the natural attractions around Prineville. In spring, for instance, the hiking trail to Steins Pillar—a 350-foot-tall column of rhyolite ash that's popular with climbers—is surrounded by meadows of colorful wildflowers. Nearby, Big Summit Prairie is another popular destination for spotting vibrant blooms all spring long in the heart of the Ochoco Mountains.
Those who love getting on the water, meanwhile, enjoy boating and angling at Ochoco Reservoir and Prineville Reservoir State Park. And to the east about an hour, the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument boasts hillsides featuring dynamic layers of red, yellow, brown, and orange.
Hike, Mountain Bike, or Just Explore!
The Ochoco National Forest and Ochoco Mountains sit at Prineville’s eastern doorstep, offering access to dozens of miles of hiking and mountain biking trails through forests of ponderosa pine, wide-open meadows covered in colorful springtime wildflowers, towering rock formations, epic angling opportunities, dusty OHV paths, and more. Further east are the Painted Hills, boasting some of the state’s most-photographed attractions. Even the Ochoco Wayside State Scenic Viewpoint, perched above the Crooked River at the western edge of Prineville, affords dramatic views of the region's disparate landscapes.
Stargazing at Its Finest
Prineville’s unique location—far from light pollution produced by big cities and under the wide-open high desert sky—makes it an excellent outpost for stargazing all year long. Prineville Reservoir State Park, in particular, was named an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2021—a reflection of the park’s commitment to preserving clear night skies for generations to come.
Millions of years of history are apparent in the rocks, gemstones, and more that dot the landscapes around Prineville—artifacts that make the area an acclaimed rockhounding destination. Northeast of Prineville, the White Fir Springs Collection Site hosts digging pits that feature thunder eggs filled with jasper, while the high-desert hillsides around Fischer Canyon—to the southeast of Prineville—boast impressive collections of petrified wood, agates, and jasper. Learn more about other rockhounding spots in the region.
Ride the Crooked River Canyon
Dedicated cyclists love traveling the 37-mile Crooked River Canyon Scenic Bikeway, which departs from the southern edge of town before heading south along paved roads and into the heart of the Crooked River Canyon. Along the way, cyclists pass llama farms and cattle ranches in the shadow of basalt cliffs, follow the bubbling Crooked River, and ascend to viewpoints that showcase the sweeping expanse of the Central Oregon high desert. Ride in spring or fall for cooler temperatures and seasonal color in the trees and wildflowers lining the roadway. And if you are looking for more scenic bikeways to experience, check out these five more rides in the region.
Catch your dinner
Prineville sits surrounded by some of the region’s best angling opportunities. Try your fly on the Crooked River, which runs through town and is known for its year-round trout populations, or on the Prineville and Ochoco reservoirs. The Prineville Reservoir sits at the base of the Ochoco Mountains, boasts a surface area of roughly 3,000 acres, and is home to large populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as brown bullhead catfish; the Ochoco Reservoir, meanwhile, boasts approximately 1,000 surface acres and is home to large populations of rainbow trout, bass, and crappie. If you're excited to fish other waterways throughout the region, learn more about the rivers in Central Oregon.
Hit the links
Sunny days, warm temperatures, and stunning landscapes make Central Oregon a hotbed for bustling golf courses—and Prineville is no exception. Sitting right in town, the (public) Meadow Lakes Golf Course crosses the Crooked River four times and challenges golfers with rolling mounds, nine ponds, and 62 bunkers over the course of 18 gorgeous holes. Golfers love generous fairways, large greens, and five sets of tees. Want to know where else to play? Learn more about golf across Central Oregon.