How to celebrate Independence Day 2018 in Bend
If there’s one holiday that perfectly captures the awesomeness of being in Bend, it’s Independence Day.
That’s my humble opinion, but considering July 4 is one of the busiest days for Bend tourism, I’m not the only one who feels that way.
From the waggy-tailed joy of the Pet Parade to the breathless speculation over which side of Pilot Butte will catch on fire (it’s a thing!) there’s something magical about spending Fourth of July in Bend, Oregon.
Here’s what you should know if you plan to join us in 2018.
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 zones, so check the Parks & Rec site to find one near you. Al Moody Park (near the base of Pilot Butte) is a locals’ favorite, but you’ll want to get there early with a blanket or chairs.
Q: What special events are happening for July 4?
A: Bend’s Old-fashioned 4th of July celebration is like something out of a Normal Rockwell painting. Pie-eating contests, dunk tanks, scavenger hunts, and sack races will keep you hopping (so to speak) all day long.
Things kick off early with 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 11 a.m., and proceeds support local charities.
Once you’ve stuffed your face with hotcakes and bacon, stroll into Downtown Bend for 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 a.m. in the parking lot between Bond and Wall across from the Deschutes Public Library. Temps can be high this time of year, so keep your kids’ and pets’ comfort in mind when planning costumes.
If you just want to watch, you can park your chair pretty much anywhere in Downtown Bend. Streets will be closed from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and parking can be tough to find, so it’s a great chance to use alternative transportation like biking or walking.
After the parade, head over to Drake Park for the aforementioned Old-fashioned 4th of July celebration. From 11-4, enjoy games, live music, a variety of food booths, kids’ activities, and more than 130 artisan booths. Live music will start rockin’ at 11 a.m., and will keep going until 4 p.m. at on the Pavilion Stage.
Since Independence Day falls on a Wednesday this year, we get the extra-special bonus of it coinciding with the weekly Bend Farmers Market happening in the Brooks Alley just above Drake Park. Stop by to gander at fresh produce, flowers, meats, pasta, and locally-made goodies like jam and honey.
Q: Uh-oh…I don’t have a place to stay.
A: Independence Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year in Bend, so pat yourself on the back if you’ve already nailed down lodging reservations.
If you haven’t, you can scope out our lodging pages as a starting point for deciding who to call about last-minute availability and cancellations. If you strike out in Bend, try one of our neighboring towns like Redmond (20 minutes away), Sisters (25-30 minutes away), Sunriver (25-30 minutes away), La Pine (45 minutes away), or Prineville (45 minutes away).
If you’re hoping to camp, check out Visit Bend’s complete roundup of campgrounds and RV parks. While we can’t guarantee availability on a busy holiday weekend, these campgrounds might be worth trying if you strike out elsewhere:
- The area around the Cascade Lakes has several options, including Gull Point and Crane Prairie.
- Near Newberry Crater, try Cinder Hill campground.
- Want to stay near Sisters? Try Perry South or Sisters Creekside Campground.
- 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.
- 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.
Q: How can I play in lakes and rivers?
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 on how to float the river like a pro.
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. Visit Bend’s blog also has quite a few posts devoted to hiking, including family-friendly hikes and how to explore Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Q: What else is open July 4?
A: If you think Mt. Bachelor is only a wintertime attraction, you’re in for a big treat. The mountain’s summer season is already in full swing with the downhill mountain bike park, disc golf, and sunset dinners at Pine Marten Lodge.
Though the High Desert Museum is closed on Independence Day, be sure to stop by on a different day during your trip. Check their schedule and time your visit for one of their stellar Raptors of the High Desert shows. Lava Lands Visitor Center is open July 4.
The Deschutes Historical Museum is not only open, but offers free admission and free ice cream cups while supplies last on July 4.
And of course, the Bend Visitor Center will be open on Independence Day from 9-5 for all your visitor information needs (and to redeem Bend Ale Trail atlases, naturally!)