Central Oregon Overview
Sunny skies, snow-kissed mountains, shimmering rivers, alpine lakes and sagebrush plains serve as the backdrop for this outdoor playground.
Anchored by the handsome city of Bend, this region is home to all the skiing, hiking, climbing, cycling, fishing, rafting, and golf of your dreams. And at the end of an adventurous day, you’ll find that culture, dining and the arts abound.
You’re truly in the centre of it all — so choose your pleasure and go for it.
Must See Places in Central Oregon
The Newberry National Volcanic Monument encompasses the biggest volcano in Oregon. Newberry Crater is a collapsed shield volcano formed by relatively recent volcanic activity, around 600,000 years ago. The giant crater shelters a waterfall, two lakes and the very awesome Big Obsidian Flow.
Deschutes River Trail
There are over 19 miles of riverfront trail to explore in and around Bend. The beauties of the Deschutes River Trail are its scenery and diversity. Some trail is paved and highly accessible, perfect for strollers and easy rambles. Other sections are rugged single-track passing by waterfalls and through ponderosa forest.
Bend is one of four cities in the United States that has a volcano within the city limits. Don’t miss your chance to hike up it! Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint has long been a visual marker on the landscape, and today, there are two trails to the summit, at which you’ll be treated to incredible panoramic views of the Cascades, the vast high desert and the city.
Bend’s downtown is a thriving concentration of great restaurants, scenery, shopping and entertainment. Park on the outskirts and walk around; make sure you descend into Drake Park along the banks of Mirror Pond for a knockout view of the Three Sisters over the water. See the pine tree growing through the dining room at the Pine Tavern Restaurant, sip a beer at Bend’s oldest brewery, Deschutes Brewery, find the hidden rooms at McMenamins Old St. Francis Hotel, and learn about Bend’s history at the Deschutes Historical Museum.
The Old McKenzie Highway
Highway 242, also known as the Old McKenzie Highway, was the first route over the Cascade Range from Eugene, originally a wagon road and then the first highway. Today it’s part of the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway traveling through an incredible volcanic landscape with amazing views of the Cascade Range.
This town is known for its Western charm and atmosphere. But it’s not exactly an accident that Sisters looks like a set out of a Western movie. In 1978, the town passed an ordinance requiring 1880s-style storefronts. It’s a fun, easy town to stroll through, with great little shops and fun eateries. Shop for cowboy boots at Dixie’s, grab a soft serve at Sno Cap, see some of the famous quilts for the Sisters Quilt Show at the Stitchin Post, fill your cup at Sisters Coffee Company and sip a beer at the Sisters Saloon.
The Metolius River
It’s not every day that you see a river spring from underground, or as it appears, from a rocky, fern-covered hillside in the woods. The Metolius forms from underground springs and appears near Camp Sherman, before running its short 29-mile course to terminate at Lake Billy Chinook. The headwaters are conveniently accessed by a short, paved quarter-mile trail that also boasts a killer view of Mt. Jefferson. Camp Sherman itself is a small, forested community at the base of Black Butte that reliably delivers a peaceful, nature-infused, old-timey getaway.
Smith Rock State Park
The incredible orange-blue-grey spires that reach to the sky, contrasted with the blue sky and the Cascade Range in the distance, all make this place unlike anything else you’ve seen. Smith Rock is at once quintessential high desert Oregon and a magical destination that could be on the moon. Smith is comprised of welded tuff from volcanic ash cloud deposits, and is an equally great destination for world-class rock climbing to easy day hiking.