High Desert Museum

The High Desert Museum reveals the culture of the West’s High Desert through artful exhibits, alluring animals, engaging programs and meaningful history. Otters, porcupines, owls, oh my! 

This cultural gem that has been inspiring families since 1982 and consistently rates as a top Central Oregon attraction by Trip Advisor. With 135 wooded acres and more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, it’s a “must see” for anyone traveling through the area. 

See raptors, otters, porcupines and reptiles up close. During the summer, experience birds of prey swooping just overhead on the Museum’s grounds during our Raptors of the Desert Sky daily flight program. Stop at the 1904 High Desert Ranch Sawmill and engage in a lively conversation with living history characters who believe it’s still 1904! Explore ever-changing exhibits throughout the year. Journey through the history of the Plateau Indians. The Museum weaves together history, culture, art and natural history to provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the High Desert.

Enjoy lunch in the Rimrock Café, which serves salads, sandwiches and snacks featuring many locally sourced ingredients. Be sure to stop in Silver Sage Trading stocked with books, educational toys, jewelry, art and more!

The High Desert Museum is a proud recipient of the nation’s highest honor for museum and libraries with the Institute of Museum and Library Services 2021 National Medal. It is awarded to institutions that make exceptional contributions to their communities.

The Museum is open daily except for Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Visit the website for hours, rates, current exhibits, events and the daily schedule of programs.

TripAdvisor Traveler Rating: 4.5/5 TripAdvisor Traveler Rating based on 1953 reviews


  • TripAdvisor Rating
    February 26, 2023

    Outstanding - High Desert Museum Bend.

    One word - OUTSTANDING and is a must-see if visiting Bend,Oregon. The museum is set off highway I 97 just outside Bend and is easy to get too with free parking on site and a short walk to the entrance amongst the Ponderosa Pines. It’s a combination of history- Indian culture and the coming of settlers, gold mining, transport infrastructure and the environment, complete with animals - Otters, bird life including talks and other native critters. We spent almost 4 hours there and the time went quickly.The volunteer staff were proactive and freely gave information which was informative and easy to understand. The impact of the white man’s coming upon the Indian nations in the area was significant and sadly was typical of colonisation in many countries at the time.

  • TripAdvisor Rating
    February 23, 2023

    Even Teenagers Enjoyed this Museum

    I went with my 2 teenage kids here and was unsure if they would like it or get bored quickly. We spent almost 4 hours here as there were great animals to watch (who doesn't love river otters) and my daughter still talks about the grey fox. The exhibits were well done both indoors and outdoors and I recommend this highly for anyone looking for an unexpected experience that doesn't involve shopping and eating.

  • TripAdvisor Rating
    February 6, 2023
    Nebabot N


    great lil otter habitat. incredibly immersive exhibits. the native american one actually spooked me, a lot actually, the icy wall of banshees the curators were pumping in, literally, sonically, with speakers, was a little much for me that morning, especially as were likely the first people through the exhibit and all the lights were flicking on in front of us as we walked. they also had a like virtual reality, room with jagged, polygonal walls and projectors and auditory synthesizers. akin to the virtual room from spy kids.

  • TripAdvisor Rating
    November 10, 2022

    Worth the trip

    There is such a variety of things to do there. You can see period displays, art collections, animal habitats, live animals and a raptor demonstration.

  • TripAdvisor Rating
    November 1, 2022

    We love Bend

    We had a great time in Bend. We stayed at the Riverhouse on the Deschutes river. A beautiful location, right on the river, with a restaurant overlooking it. Hiking out of a park nearby, all along an incredible canyon. Also great shopping in town in 5 minutes and many choices of breweries. We will definitely come back.

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