Bend’s legendary sunsets are something you can appreciate all year long, and there’s not a week in the calendar year when we aren’t treated to technicolor eye candy in the sky.
But there’s extra magic in the air each August, so here are three things to know about Bend’s season of spectacular sunsets.
Wait, that’s not magic…
When I said “magic” earlier, I meant “smoke.”
The harsh reality of late-summer in the high desert is that forest fires rage all around us. We’re relatively lucky right now (knock on wood) to have no major fires blazing super-close to Bend, but winds from the north have been bringing us smoke from fires in Washington and British Columbia.
For vulnerable populations like the elderly or those with breathing issues, poor air quality can pose problems. Before you embark on an outdoor adventure, check the air quality report to be sure it’s safe. If it isn’t, here’s a fun roundup of indoorsy activities to enjoy in Bend.
Also, be sure to check this post for info on campfire safety and rules so you don’t inadvertently contribute to the problem.
I’m safe and breathing well. Now where can I watch the sunset?
There are tons of spots to catch killer sunset views in Bend and Central Oregon this time of year.
Sunset dining is a great option right now, since the sun starts sinking below the horizon a bit earlier than it did mid-summer. Current sunset time is around 7:50 p.m., and getting earlier with each passing day.
Many restaurants with outdoor patios offer stellar sunset views. Greg’s Grill and Anthony’s Home Port are two excellent choices in the Old Mill District, with the double bonus of giving you a glimpse of the shimmering Deschutes River as it reflects all those sparkly orange and pink hues.
Mt. Bachelor offers sunset dining at 7,800 feet through Labor Day, and it’s a great opportunity to get up above some of the smoke. After your meal, ride the chairlift back down under the stars.
Suttle Lake is another great choice for a sparkly, waterfront sunset meal, and their event calendar boasts some fantastic special dining opportunities in the coming weeks.
For those who crave a more active sunset experience, a hike to the top of Pilot Butte promises the payoff of killer sunset views (not to mention a great overview of the whole city). A bit farther afield, Lava Butte is another terrific spot with a fire lookout at the top that makes things all the more scenic. If you’re feeling adventurous, Tumalo Mountain delivers a more challenging hike, but the payoff is pure sunset gold. Just be sure to bring a flashlight for the hike down.
How do I get a good photo?
I checked in with Toni Toreno of Bend Photo Tours for some tips on capturing the best sunsets in Central Oregon this time of year, and she had some awesome stuff to share.
“When it comes to capturing those epic sunset photos, it boils down to timing, composition and patience,” Toni wrote. “A good rule of thumb is that if the sky has some fluffy clouds a couple hours before the sun goes down, chances are you’re going to get some pop of color.”
She also suggested making sure the clouds aren’t too dense over the horizon line so the light can still cast through. As the sun settles over the horizon, it should light up under them and provide some vibrant colors. While thick smoke can make things more challenging, it can also lead to softer sunset colors that create a sort of ethereal effect.
“As for composition,” she added, “I’m always a fan of the reflection sunsets, because you get double the color. Being amongst all these alpine lakes, you can easily find that mountain or tree line reflection in just a short drive from Bend. But even without a reflection, you can still get some great shots practicing the rule of thirds, keeping the horizon line out of the center of the image.”
She also pointed out that patience is key. “I would recommend setting up an hour or so before the sun is scheduled to set and stay for an hour or so after,” she added. “You’ll be there through all the changes in the sky from the golden hour to the blue hour, and be able to capture your best shot. And don’t forget your tripod!”
Want more great photo tips, including a professional guide who can get you to the best spots and show you how to capture the perfect sunset photo? Book a custom outing with Bend Photo Tours for a guided adventure that includes transportation and professional education on how to photograph the ultimate Bend souvenir.