Click here for current wildfire information in Central Oregon including up-to-date conditions and restrictions.

Benham Falls East Day Use

Photo courtesy of Johnny Oliver

Benham Falls is a quick-drop cascade in the Deschutes River, not far from Bend and Sunriver—and is among Central Oregon’s most popular outdoor destinations. It formed after nearby Lava Butte erupted some 6,000 years ago and remains a remarkable site in all seasons today. It can be easily viewed from two trailheads—including the Benham Falls East Day Use Area and Trailhead, which invites visitors to enjoy a short hike before seeing the waterfall.

From the Benham Falls East Day Use Area and Trailhead, it’s a 0.7-mile (one-way) walk to the waterfall via the Deschutes River Trail. Along the way, hikers enjoy views of ancient lava flows, hearty stands of ponderosa pine, and the crystal-clear Deschutes River itself.

From the trail, signs point to an overlook of the 25-foot-tall waterfall, which looks more like a series of raging rapids than a typically dramatic cascade. (Fun fact: Benham Falls is actually the largest waterfall on the upper Deschutes River.) The waterfall churns through a narrow gorge surrounded by pine trees, creating a picturesque view.

The Deschutes River Trail is accessible year-round, but hikers should exercise caution if visiting in snowier months. Between March and May, Benham Falls—fed by rain and snowmelt—is at its most dramatic. Watch for mosquitos between May and early July.

Open Season


Dog Friendly and/or Leash Rules

Dogs are permitted but must be leashed May 15-Sept. 15; dogs must be leashed at the trailhead at all times.

Best time to visit


Don’t Miss

Try a visit during the spring months when the melted snow causes the falls to be at their highest.

Fees or Pass Needed

A Forest Pass ($5 per day pass or $30 per annual pass) or America the Beautiful pass ($80 per annual pass) is accepted.


E-bikes are not permitted.






Parking is available at the trailhead—but try to arrive by 9 a.m. to secure a spot on summer weekends.


From Bend, the 16-mile southbound drive to the Benham Falls East Day Use Area and Trailhead takes about 20 minutes via Highway 97 and Forest Road 9702. From Sunriver, the nine-mile drive northbound takes about 15 minutes via S. Century Drive, Highway 97, and Forest Road 9702.

Other stories

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

  • Best Waterfalls Around Bend That Are Worth Seeing
    Best Waterfalls Around Bend That Are Worth Seeing

    Arguably Bend’s most popular waterfall hike, Tumalo Falls is only a 30 minute drive from town up Skyliners Road to Forest Road 4603. When the falls are open in the summer, it’s an easy quarter-mile hike on the North Fork Trail. The trail–paved and wheelchair accessible at the observation deck–leads visitors to views of the spectacular 97-foot waterfall.

  • The Scenic Waterfalls in Central Oregon
    The Scenic Waterfalls in Central Oregon

    Is there anything more satisfying—anything more awe-inspiring—than gazing upon a thundering waterfall, its raging waters tumbling over ancient rock walls? Does it get any better than seeing a waterfall reach full boil in the midst of an otherwise quiet river as it crashes through a rock-lined canyon?