Central Oregon is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts! No matter your definition of outdoorsy, there’s an adventure for you.
Summer and early fall are hard to beat in this sunny region of Oregon, where cool mornings give way to blue skies and comfortable temperatures for getting outside. Whether you’re looking for a guided adventure of the region or you’d rather fly solo, there are plenty of options to fill up your next vacation.
Take a Hike
One of the easiest ways to get familiar with the different communities that make up Central Oregon (including Bend, Sunriver, Sisters, Redmond and more!) is to get on a trail. Heard of Smith Rock State Park? It’s the birthplace of modern sport climbing and one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon.
If you’re looking for a hike that has fewer crowds than the well-loved Smith Rock, head east to Prineville to see Steins Pillar, a 350-foot column of rhyolite ash that formed some 40 million years ago during the collapse of the Wildcat Caldera.
There are two options for viewing the pillar: One is accessible at a roadside viewpoint along Mill Creek Road (which turns into Forest Road 33), some 20 miles east of Prineville. For a closer look, take a pleasant, 4.5-mile round-trip hike to the base of the pillar. The path gains 735 feet in all, traversing a forest of ponderosa pine and springtime wildflower meadows. A viewpoint along the way offers expansive views of the pillar, and the trail ends at its base.
For a one-of-a-kind hike that will wow you with its spectacular view of pristine mountain lakes, make your way to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument – between La Pine and Sunriver. The summit of Paulina Peak is the highest point on the Newberry Volcano. Standing on top, you’ll be towering over the Newberry Caldera at 7,984 feet. On a clear day, you’ll be able to spot snow-capped mountains from California (Mt. Shasta) to Washington (Mt. Adams) and the Central Oregon peaks in between: Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, South Sister, Middle Sister and North Sister.
Bike or Ride
Stunning views and trails that snake through fragrant forests are waiting for you! Central Oregon boasts 300+ miles of singletrack and many of the trails don’t even require a car to access. Don’t have the right gear? Not a problem, dozens of bike shops in the region can equip you with the right gear for your adventure. When visiting Sisters, grab your bikes and head nearby to Suttle Lake for an easy and scenic 3.6-mile loop on a dirt path around the Lake. For a more strenuous mountain bike option, ride from downtown Sisters to the super close Peterson Ridge Trail System. Check with the local bike shop for trail conditions to ensure the trails are snow-free and optimal for riding.
If casual cycling is more your speed – rent a cruiser and hit any of the 40 miles of paved pathways in Sunriver. Ride by the river, cruise by the Village shops, and be back at the resort in time to watch the sunset with good food and a cocktail in hand.
Another way to take in the beauty of the high desert with a little less leg-power (your’s at least!) is by heading out on a guided horseback ride. Saddle up at one of the many resorts that offer horseback riding opportunities including Sunriver Resort, Brasada Ranch, Black Butte Ranch. Tours are customizable and a fun option for the whole family. No prior experience needed.
Paddle or Stroll
Pristine doesn’t quite do Central Oregon’s paddle boarding backdrops justice. Imagine sliding onto a crystal clear alpine lake or down a rippling river. Paddleboarding is one of the more relaxing ways to adventure and it’s a cool way to take in the natural beauty the region has become known for.
Strolling past vibrant murals is one of the most relaxing ways to be outdoors. Impressive murals dot downtown buildings throughout Central Oregon. Enjoy the view of the “Oregon, Only Slightly Exaggerated” mural in Prineville, the oldest city in Central Oregon. View more than 60 pieces of public art that are placed throughout the city of Redmond. Surprise yourself around every corner as you pop in and out of charming shops through downtown Bend.
In Central Oregon, there are plenty of safe and comfortable lodging options. If you’re looking for some luxury after a year of moving from your couch to your bed, try one of these resorts.
Sunriver Resort: Everything you need is at your fingertips at Sunriver Resort. Whether it’s golfing at one of four award-winning golf courses, rejuvenating at a luxurious spa, or fly fishing on the Deschutes. Pick from one of the suites or private homes.
Black Butte Ranch: Tucked away just north of Sisters, Black Butte Ranch is a resort where you can get away from it all. Wake up for an early tee time on either of the Ranch’s championship golf courses. Spend the afternoon lounging at the pool with pristine views of the Cascades. Top off the day watching the sunset at the Lakeside Bistro.
Tetherow: A resort on the edge of the forest but still near the heart of the city. 7 minutes from Bend’s Old Mill District and 20 minutes from Mt. Bachelor, Tetherow borders the Deschutes National Forest and boasts an award-winning 18-hole golf course, 50-room boutique hotel, outdoor, heated pool, three restaurants, fitness facility, and vacation rental homes.
Find more lodging options in Central Oregon.
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.