All Your Central Oregon Questions Answered

Local expert shares the best examples of travel happiness in and around Bend.
October 16, 2017

I’ve been a Central Oregon resident, writer and aficionado for 22 years. As an ambassador for Travel Oregon’s Ask Oregon program and author of “Bend, Oregon Daycations: Day Trips for Curious Families,” visitors often ask me where to find specific, awesome destinations and activities in and around Bend.

Hopefully these 10 most common questions help you have fun finding exactly what you want on your next trip to Bend.

Where can I find lakeside cabins?

It doesn’t get much better than a rustic cabin on the edge of an alpine lake. Year-round, book yourself a weekend at the cabins at The Suttle Lodge, Odell Lake Lodge and Resort or Shelter Cove Resort and Marina.

During the summertime, when the Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway is plowed clear of snow, lakeside cabins can be rented at Elk Lake Resort, Twin Lakes Resort, Paulina Lake Lodge and Cultus Lake Resort.

The Suttle Lodge

Where can I go stargazing?

Great stargazing can be found just about anywhere in the desert or in the mountains, as long as you get away from the lights of the city. Grab a campsite on the Cascade Lakes Highway or in Camp Sherman to see the stars come to life overhead. For a more sciency approach, visit Pine Mountain east of Bend — the observatory there hosts volunteer-led presentations in the summer.

For stargazing while glamping, reserve a four-star tent at Panacea at the Canyon.

Panacea at the Canyon

Where can I go motorboating/waterskiing?

Not all of Central Oregon’s lakes are motorboat-friendly. Lake Billy Chinook is the big daddy for waterskiing and the like — its 46 acres of water leave plenty of room for everyone to play.

In the Cascade Lakes region, get your vroom on at Elk Lake, Cultus Lake, Lava Lake and Twin Lakes. Both East Lake and Paulina Lake in Newberry Crater allow motorboats, too, and Wickiup and Crane Prairie Reservoirs are good spots too.

Where can I go horseback riding?

Bend was founded as a horse-and-timber town, and elements of the Wild West remain. Sign up for a guided horseback ride at Black Butte Ranch, Brasada Ranch, Sunriver Resort, or Seventh Mountain Resort.

If you’ve brought your own horse along, check out the new horse boarding stables at Camp Sherman’s lovely Lake Creek Lodge.

Brasada Ranch

Where can I photograph the best mountain views?

Bend is known for its views of the Cascades. The mountains are visible from tons of places in Central Oregon, but where are the premier spots to snap a selfie? Some of my favorite mountain views include the top of Pilot Butte, the heart of downtown on Mirror Pond, the Cascade Lakes Highway near Mt. Bachelor, the top of Tumalo Mountain, Dee Wright Observatory on the Old McKenzie Highway, the top of the Obsidian Flow in Newberry Crater, Smith Rock State Park and Black Butte Ranch on Phalarope Lake.

Tumalo Mountain

Where can I take a family-friendly bike ride?

Bend is known for awesome outdoor adventure, but not all outings have to test your bravery and skill. Take the family for an easy, flat, paved bike tour at Sunriver Resort, Black Butte Ranch or along the Deschutes River Trail in Bend near the Old Mill District. Bike rentals are available in all three locations.

Black Butte Ranch

Where can I see a waterfall?

Two of Central Oregon’s waterfalls are very easy to access. Tumalo Falls, 13-miles west of Bend, offers a very short walk to a great view. Paulina Falls in Newberry Crater is also a very easy hike from the parking lot, though the crater is only open to vehicles in the summer months. A bit longer walk will take you to Chush Falls, south of Sisters.

Paulina Falls

Where can I see obsidian?

Central Oregon is a land of lava. Signs of volcanic activity are everywhere, but only one outstanding example of volcanic glass, or obsidian, exists. The Big Obsidian Flow in Newberry Crater is the youngest lava flow in Oregon at 1300 years old, as well as a very attractive, unique destination. Hike up a steep hill through this shimmering field of obsidian to achieve amazing views of the Cascades up top.

Where can I see wildflowers?

Strolling through a colorful array of native alpine flowers is a real treat. Depending on the winter snowpack and altitude of your search, wildflower season begins April to mid-June, and continues through July or August. For an ambitious hike, walk up past Tumalo Falls to Happy Valley, climb Iron Mountain, or hike up Tam McArthur Rim from Three Creek Lake. For easier strolls, hike the Metolius River Trail or Deschutes River Trail from Meadow Camp upstream.

Chush Falls

Where can I find craft beer?

This one’s simple — craft beer is everywhere in Bend. Central Oregon is a beer lovers’ paradise these days, with taps turning up in the unlikeliest places, like gear shops, book shops, barber shops and more. Cheers!

Crux Fermentation Project

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.

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