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Splashing through white water river rapids in Central Oregon
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  • States:
    Oregon

Bike through evergreen forests, hike past cascading waterfalls or ski down snowy mountain slopes – it’s all within reach in Central Oregon.

Bend, a much loved mountain town, serves as your outpost for a variety of exciting outdoor activities in Central Oregon. It’s not only the place to go to rent bikes or sign up for a fishing charter, it’s also your getaway hub within terrific restaurants, craft breweries and bars, as well as cozy accommodations – all helping you to fuel up and rest for your days filled with mountain adventure.

Top Hiking Spots

If you’ve come to hike beautiful trails, you’ll be thrilled with your choices. You may even be adding hikes to your itinerary. Your first stop should be Smith Rock State Park, with its 12 different hiking trails located in the picturesque high desert terrain of Central Oregon. Volcanoes helped form this landscape, and the mountains they left behind are an incredible sight on the horizon. Venture up the Black Butte trail in summertime for vistas of these giants paired with colorful wildflowers. You won’t want to miss Lava River Cave. Yes, it’s as extraordinary as it sounds. This kilometer-long lava tube is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Of course, waterfalls, rambling creeks and majestic trees always add to the experience. You’ll see plenty of these on the Green Lakes Loop through the Three Sisters Wilderness and the North Fork Trail to Tumalo Falls.

Dusk along a hiking trail near Todd Lake

Dusk along a hiking trail near Todd Lake
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Blaze Trails by Bike

Bikers in Central Oregon can expect even more ever-changing landscapes. Follow the riverfront or pedal the McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway, where road biking routes cut through evergreen forests and end at a lava-rock landscape. On the Madras Mountain Views Scenic Bikeway, prepare for such sights as fields of wildflowers, a desert canyon lake and mountains in the near horizon.

Families tend to thoroughly enjoy the Twin Bridges Loop, which starts in downtown Bend and opens up to views of the Cascade Mountains, pristine forests and high desert terrain. Finally, the Three Sisters Scenic Bikeway offers flat, easy rides along the shores of the Metolius River. As for mountain bikers, the best spots to cycle include juniper-lined Deschutes River Trail and Massive Phil’s Trail complex that leads riders through the Deschutes National Forest, the Round Mountain area in Prineville and the Peterson Ridge Trail system in Sisters.

Mountain biker gripping for a downhill run

Mountain biker gripping for a downhill run
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The Adventure Never Ends

Snow skiing is another popular pursuit in Central Oregon. Mt. Bachelor, the sixth largest ski area in the USA, features 101 ski runs and is located on the eastern edge of Oregon’s Central Cascades. You can also hit the slopes at the Hoodoo Ski Area with mountain runs set in the Willamette National Forest, where you can even ski at night.

Summer offers the chance to journey the Deschutes or McKenzie rivers on a whitewater rafting trip. Splash, laugh and holler as local expert outfitters take you on an afternoon excursion. If you’re up for it, try an overnight rafting trip and spend a night or two in a tent while enjoying campfire meals under the stars.

Book a river or lake charter to try and hook trout, kokanee (land-locked salmon) and even largemouth bass. Fly fishing outfitters will gear you up for casting from the banks of the Lower Deschutes, Fall River or Crooked River. The fishing is good here, but even if you’re out of luck (or a beginner), you’ll be wowed by the beauty of any of Central Oregon’s waterways.

Snowy alpines line the ski lift in Mt. Bachelor ski area

Snowy alpines line the ski lift in Mt. Bachelor ski area
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Getting There

Fly into Portland International Airport (PDX) and rent a car for the 256-kilometer trip to Bend, or take a connecting flight into Roberts Field (RDM) in Redmond, a 27-kilometer drive to Bend. Redmond also has 23 direct flights daily to and from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, Portland, Denver and Salt Lake City.