‘Tis the season for fireworks, parades, Fourth of July camping trips, and floods of phone calls to Visit Bend from travelers seeking information about all those things.
Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common questions we get this time of year. Since it wouldn’t be very nice if we only gave you the questions, we’ve also taken the time to provide answers. We’re helpful like that.
Q: Where can I watch Fourth of July fireworks in Bend?
A: Each year, fireworks are launched from the top of Pilot Butte at 10 p.m. If you have any friends who live in an elevated area of northeast Bend, try to procure an invitation to their Independence Day barbecue. Bring beer.
If that’s not an option, you can see fireworks from just about any spot in town with a view of Pilot Butte. City parks are popular viewing spots, so check the Parks & Rec site to find one near you. Get there early with a blanket or chairs, since some of the popular locales can be packed.
Q: What special events are happening for July 4?
A: One of the most popular Bend traditions is the annual Pancake Breakfast in Drake Park sponsored by the Bend Sunrise Lion’s Club. This all-American meal is served from 8 a.m. to noon. Cost is $4 for kids and $6 for adults, and proceeds support local charities.
My personal favorite event is the annual Pet Parade. It’s Bend’s largest parade, with 8,000 spectators and participants, and it’s been happening since the 1930s. Starting at 10 a.m., the parade winds its way through downtown with a kooky array of humans, canines, and farm animals, many of whom will be attired in bizarre costumes.
If you or your kids want to march in the parade, the lineup and decorating party takes place at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot between Bond and Wall across from the Deschutes Public Library. If you just want to watch, you can park your chair pretty much anywhere in Downtown Bend. Streets will be closed starting at 9 a.m. and parking can be tough to find, so get there nice and early.
After the parade, head over to Drake Park for the Old Fashioned July 4 Festival. From 11-4, enjoy games, live music, a variety of food booths, kids’ activities, and more than 130 artisan booths.
Craving a more intimate celebration? Brasada Ranch (just 16 miles northeast of Bend ) is holding an Independence Day All American BBQ. You can enjoy great food, live music, lawn games, and panoramic views of three (yes, THREE) firework shows across the region. Dinner is served from 6-8 p.m. and music goes from 7:30-10:30. Cost is $39 for adults and $23 for kids 5-10.
For the fitness-minded among you, the annual Spark Your Heart 5K run/walk will kick off at 8 a.m. in Riverbend Park. Details and registration are here.
Q: Uh-oh…Tumalo State Park is full. Where can I camp?
A: Independence Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year in Bend, and 2014 will be especially crazy with the holiday falling on a Friday. A good starting point is Visit Bend’s complete roundup of campgrounds and RV parks. While we can’t guarantee availability on a busy holiday weekend, these might be worth trying if you strike out elsewhere:
- The area around the Cascade Lakes has several options, including Gull Point and Crane Prairie. Keep in mind, many of the northern Cascade Lakes campgrounds are still closed due to snow (yes, SNOW!)
- State Parks are another option for those willing to drive 20-40 minutes. Smith Rock State Park has great spots for tent campers, while La Pine State Park, Cove Palisades, and Prineville Reservoir can all accommodate both RVs and tents.
- Some tent campers might enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of dispersed camping in the Ochoco or Deschutes National forests.
- Crown Villa (smack dab in the middle of Bend) and Scandia RV Park (also right in the city limits) both offer RV sites.
- RV enthusiasts will also find hookups and bathrooms with showers at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds RV Park. Though Mt. Bachelor doesn’t have hookups, they do offer bathrooms and showers in the Guest Services building for those who want to park their RVs in the designated area at the mountain.
- Near Newberry Crater, try Cinder Hill campground.
- Want to stay near Sisters? Try Perry South or Sisters City Park Campground.
Q: Where can I play in the Deschutes River?
A: We have a whole web page devoted to this! Find out about canoeing, kayaking, standup paddling, and river float trips in Bend. To get the inside scoop on floating on the Deschutes River the way the locals do it, check out this blog post.
Q: What hikes are open?
A: This page from the Forest Service offers up-to-the-minute trail conditions and closure info. You can also refer to Visit Bend’s hiking page for ideas about where to go.
Q: Are things like the High Desert Museum and Lava Lands Visitor Center open on July 4?
A: Though the High Desert Museum is closed on Independence Day, be sure to stop by on a different day during your trip. Lava Lands Visitor Center is Open July 4. The Des Chutes Historical Museum is not only open, but offers free admission all day on July 4.
Q: We really like the way you write the Bend Buzz Blog and would like to buy you some fireworks. What would you like?
A: Why thank you! Sparklers and smoke balls, please. I like the green ones.