It’s no secret that late August lightning storms near Central Oregon bring forest fires this time of year.
The big secret is the glorious side effect of those fires – the most magnificent sunsets you’ll ever see right here in Bend, Oregon.
My favorite thing to do in Bend during late summer is go out on my back deck with a glass of wine around 8 p.m. and watch the sky explode with brilliant hues of red, orange, pink, yellow, and a handful of other colors I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen in a Crayola box.
As much as I love Bend visitors, I don’t think my back deck will hold all of you (not to mention I can’t afford the wine).
But never fear! There are still plenty of great places to catch Bend’s glorious sunsets. Here are a few local favorites:
Want some calamari with that sunset?
For those who want to make a grand event out of it, there’s no beating sunset dining in Bend. There are several great spots right on the river in the Old Mill District, including Greg’s Grill, Anthony’s, or even Red Robin.
I adore the wine selection at Greg’s, and their quesadillas are great for casual dining. For more formal fare, they do spectacular steaks.
Anthony’s has a fabulous sunset dinner special every weekday from 4-6 p.m. You get a four course dinner that includes an appetizer, soup or salad, your choice from a list of about 10 entrees, and a dessert – all at a discounted price! Linger long enough and you’re sure to see an amazing sunset.
For sunset dining from a different vantage point, you can’t beat the rooftop dining at Zydeco in downtown Bend. Seating up there is extremely limited, so be sure to make reservations. The day of your reservation, you’ll want to check back around 3 p.m. to make sure the roof will be open, since lousy weather will put the kibosh on outdoor dining plans. But assuming you’re able to snag one of the coveted spots, you can’t beat the food or the views.
On top of the world
If you’re feeling more outdoorsy, there are some great sunset viewing opportunities that involve a short hike or drive. Lava Butte is that great big cinder cone just west of Highway 97 between Bend and Sunriver. There’s a fire lookout at the top, and it’s a great place to scope out the sunset.
Want to stay right here in Bend? It’s worth a venture to the top of Pilot Butte to catch the sun’s descent behind the mountains. If you opt to take one of the hiking trails, don’t forget to bring a flashlight for the journey down. Ditto that for Tumalo Mountain, which offers a slightly more challenging hike that will be rewarded by incredible sunset views.
Keep it simple
When I polled the Visit Bend crew about their favorite sunset viewing spots, I got a quick response back from our operations manager:
“This is pretty lame, but I often enjoy the view of the sunsets from the parkway as I am driving home.”
Actually, I don’t think it’s lame at all. In fact, it’s a good reminder that you don’t have to do anything special to enjoy Bend’s amazing sunsets this time of year. They’re free for the taking! Just look west, watch the sky, and drink in the views.
Just try not to crash your car, OK?