As the days of summer wean, kids head back to school and the aspens begin to change color, Central Oregonians prepare for the days of fall. Adventure starts early with crisp fall mornings perfect for riding some singletrack or starting out on a long hike into the mountains. The afternoons give way to comfortable temperatures and plenty of sunshine to bask in via a paddleboard on a peaceful Alpine Lake or on a patio at a local eatery. It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what makes the fall such a special time to visit Central Oregon, but we’ve rounded up a few of the top fall activities to try on your next getaway.
Valued at $1000
Fall Activities in Central Oregon
Central Oregon is the type of place you visit and return home with a new hobby, or two! Even if you’ve never saddled-up and taken a trail ride on a horse before, you may be buying a pair of cowboy boots at one of our western wear shops before heading home. Many of the destination resorts and tour companies around the region offer guided horseback riding tours that meander through meadows or along the Deschutes River. This is a great family-friendly activity where everyone can learn a new skill and take in some beautiful scenery at the same time. Find the horseback riding locations around the region.
More than a dozen disc golf courses cover the Central Oregon landscape, making it a fun place to play for casual players and avid aficionados alike. The Hyzer Pines Disc Golf Course is one of the region’s best-loved courses and offers an approachable introduction to the sport; sitting just west of downtown Sisters, the mostly flat, 18-hole course. Further east, the Pine Nursery Disc Golf Course hosts 18 holes at the northeastern edge of Bend. Explore more on our region’s disc golf courses.
If you’re looking for something truly unique to experience during your visit to Central Oregon, put caving on your list. The region is dotted with these underground wonders, many of them accessible through guided tours and some you can even visit on your own. Kids can’t get enough of exploring these subterranean spaces and the adults in your group will be fascinated by the natural history attached to each of the caves across the region. Be sure to check out our guide to visiting caves in Central Oregon before you go to get tips on what to wear, what you can and can’t bring into the caves and more important information.
Other Fall Outdoor Activities in Central Oregon
You could spend years hiking around Central Oregon and still only scratch the surface of what the region has to offer. Want to hike through ancient juniper trees and past rocky lava flows? You can do all that—and more—along the many trails splayed throughout the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, just east of Bend.
Looking for a moderate route with a spectacular pay off? Consider a quick hike to Steelhead Falls, this natural wonder near Terrebonne is a 2.0 mile out-and-back trek from the parking lot. Wear shoes with good traction as there are some steeper sections with loose gravel. Or if you want to challenge yourself with an ascent into the heart of the Cascades, the nine-mile round-trip Green Lakes Trail gains about 1,100 feet and shows off some of the best views of South Sister anywhere in Central Oregon.
Finally, a friendly reminder: If you’re hiking or backpacking certain trails within the Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas between late May and mid-October you may need a permit through the Central Cascades Wilderness Permit System before heading out. And with so many trails ascending hillsides, following rivers, and traversing alpine meadows all over our rugged region, it can be tough to know where to begin. Check our page on hiking across Central Oregon to get started.
Sweeping backroads and forested mountain bike trails span the Central Oregon landscape, making it a world-class destination for cyclists of all types—whether enjoying road, gravel, or shredding mountain bike trails. With five state-designated Oregon Scenic Byways to choose from in Central Oregon, road cyclists have their pick. The 29-mile Madras Mountain Views Scenic Bikeway, the 33-mile Sherars Falls Scenic Bikeway, and the state’s newest such bikeway are just a few, but there are more byways to experience in the region.
Mountain bike riders, meanwhile, love shredding the trails during fall. Riders can hit up the variety of trail systems within the region or head up to the Mt. Bachelor Bike Park for the last days of the season (end of September).
As the weather cools, and the summer crowds disperse, fall is a great time to experience climbing in the region. Rock formations big and small dot the Central Oregon landscape, drawing climbers to our countless routes. Smith Rock State Park is the birthplace of sport climbing in the United States and is the region’s most popular climbing destination today, thanks to several thousand climbs (many of which are bolted routes) on dust-colored rock formations. And on those few rainy days, move your climbing indoors and check out Bend Rock Gym or The Circuit Bouldering Gym. Learn more about climbing in the region and guided experiences.
Central Oregon Fall Sweepstakes
We want to help you find your new favorite restaurant! For a chance to win the Central Oregon Fall Sweepstakes (valued at $1000), simply fill in your details below and you might be the lucky person to receive $500 in gift cards to Central Oregon restaurants and a $500 gift card to Sunriver Resort to put toward your lodging during your stay. One winner will be chosen on or around November 1st, 2022!
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Explore Nature’s Beauty
From the sagebrush-covered plains of the high desert to the towering pines and majestic mountain peaks, discover the diverse landscape Central Oregon has to offer.