Sightseeing in Bend, Oregon

The question: When you go to Bend, Oregon for business meetings but have a few hours to call your own, how do you spend your time?

We did not have time to hike, climb or paddle down the Deschutes River, so we made a priority list of what we wanted to see.  We rented a car for the day, as taking an Uber was not an economical option for sightseeing.

  1. Chase Waterfalls – Tumalo Falls is a 97 foot waterfall on Tumalo Creek only about 20 miles outside of Bend so we headed there first. There is a lookout just steps away from the parking lot where you can see the falls head on.

    Tumalo Falls in Bend Oregon

    Even if you are in a hurry, take the time to climb the quarter mile trail to the top of the falls to see the stunning views.

    Notes:  The last 3 miles of the road in to the falls is unpaved with gravel and when not groomed, can feel like corduroy.  There is also no cell service when you get closer to the falls.

  2. Climb Smith Rock – The sheer cliffs of Smith Rock are known to rock climbers around the world.  If you are not a climber there are also a lot of hiking and mountain biking trails throughout the canyon.

    Smith Rocks in Oregon

    We did not see any climbers on the sheer cliffs but we did see a few people rappelling down into the canyon.

    Smith Rocks in Oregon
    If you look really close between the rocks, you can see the snow-capped mountain range of the Cascades.The difference between the lush pine forest of Lake Tumalo and the desert setting of Smith Rocks was pretty amazing to see in the space of just a few miles.

    Notes: Bring lots of water to stay hydrated. It can get very hot mid-day and even hotter if you go in the middle of summer.

  3. Drive through the Cascades – I wanted to see the snow-covered Mt. Bachelor up close and personal so it was suggested to take the Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway. I was not disappointed.

    Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway

    Since it was still early in the season, not all the roads into the lakes were open, as they were still snow-covered.  Devils Lake had a turn off just off the highway, so we were greeted with the stunning emerald-green views. Even though the skies had clouded over and were threatening rain,  the green was still a very vibrant hue.

    Devil's Lake in the Cascades

    One of my favourite things about visiting Bend Oregon is the smell of pine everywhere. If only this photo was scratch and sniff!
    Bend Oregon - Smell of Pine

We are already making our list for the next time we visit Bend for business. This will definitely include an extra afternoon for river tubing down the Deschutes River.

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