Road Trip: Sunriver

October 6, 2016 (Updated December 28, 2016)

Sunriver has been one of Oregon’s favorite getaways for nearly half a century. The resort community 16 miles south of Bend has been recognized as a recreational and vacation destination since the 1960s, equally perfect for snowy ski excursions and sunny summer holidays. The beautiful location on the meandering Deschutes River in a thick forest of pine shelters a wide variety of activities for all seasons.

Volcanic Vistas: Sunriver sits adjacent to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which covers 50,000 acres of awesome volcanic landscape, including one of the largest collections of cinder cones, volcanic domes, lava flows and fissures in the world. Explore an underground lava tube at Lava River Cave, see rock casts of trees at Lava Cast Forest and walk through a field of black, glassy obsidian on the Big Obsidian Flow Trail within the biggest volcano in Oregon, Newberry Crater.

Biking Life: Sunriver has 30 miles of paved trails, mostly off-road and well mapped. You won’t fight with cars and you won’t get lost, which means bicycling in Sunriver is great for the kids, the parents or the newbie. New as of two years ago is the Sun-Lava Trail, a 5.5-mile paved bike path that connects the Lava Lands Visitor Center with Sunriver Resort. Midway is the Benham Falls day-use area, where you can make a short detour on a dirt trail to this gorgeous waterfall on the Deschutes River.

Natural Beauty: Get a taste of the flora and fauna of the area at the Sunriver Nature Center, where an interpretive trail, live birds of prey and a botanical garden entertain and educate. For some nighttime discovery, visit the Oregon Observatory, where telescopes and interpretive programs give you a unique window to the stars.

Historic Aha: During World War II, Sunriver was Camp Abbot, a training facility for soldiers. At the time of its closure, the Officer’s Club was saved and is now Sunriver’s Great Hall, built in 1944. Its construction required 10 tons of native volcanic rock and 511 hand-hewn logs from the nearby forest, and it was used as a mess hall for only six months before the war ended and it was abandoned. Well, not entirely abandoned — at one point, it was used as a cattle barn. Eventually, Sunriver brought it back to life, and today it is a popular place to host events.

Eat and Drink: At sunset, have a cocktail on the deck of the Twisted River Tavern at Sunriver Resort. This is your source for a martini or a fine Oregon pinot noir with a great view. Another awesome choice for end-of-day refreshment is The Mountain Jug, a little shop with 12 local beers on tap to drink there or take home in a growler. The Mountain Jug is famous for its vintage arcade console, AC/DC pinball machine and catalog of over 1,000 vinyl records to choose from. For more craft beer, visit Sunriver Brewing Company to sip award-winning brews in a comfortable and classy restaurant with a great menu. Away from the bustle, check out Hola! for Mexican-Peruvian cuisine on the river.

Family Fun: Nicknamed “Central Oregon’s year-round playground,” Sunriver Village features kid-approved activities such as ice skating, bumper cars, mini golf and a rock climbing wall. Little ones will especially love the Alpine Express Train, a trackless ‘locomotive’ that takes a scenic tour of the grounds. Nearby, SHARC is 22 acres of excitement, with summertime pools, water slides, a lazy river, ball courts and more.

Extend Your Stay: Sunriver offers plenty of overnight options, from condos perfect for a girls’ getaway to houses big enough for your entire family to cozy, lush and romantic lodge rooms for two.

About The

Kim Cooper Findling
Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast and became a Central Oregon girl in the mid-90s, taking in the sunny skies and never looking back (except a few wistful glances at the ocean). She is the managing editor of "Bend Magazine" and the author of “Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Travelers,” "Day Trips From Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler” and “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir.” Catch her around the state sampling microbrews, hiking river trails, walking beaches, and hanging out with her family.