If it feels like it’s been 2,987 years since we had a normal Fourth of July in Bend, there’s good news for 2021. If you’re lucky enough to be here this weekend savoring our stunning landscapes and small-town spirit, here’s what’s happening for Independence Day 2021.
Will we have fireworks?
Our treasured annual fireworks display shot from atop Pilot Butte is a go for 2021! While it never went away during COVID, last year had us spreading six feet apart and masking up in big crowds. That won’t be necessary this year. With Oregon’s COVID restrictions officially lifted earlier in the week, we’re all free to gather and slobber all over each other (particularly if you’re vaccinated).
Just like normal, the fireworks begin at 10 p.m. on July 4. You can see the show from just about anyplace in Bend with a view of Pilot Butte, so scope out this parks list for ideas. Some spots can get packed pretty early, so just like you do when choosing hiking trails, have a plan A, B, and C so you can pick a new place if you show up to find one full.
Want an extra dose of festivity? On July 3, you can combine America’s favorite pastime with more fireworks flair by attending a Bend Elks Baseball game. The Saturday evening game will take place following the game against the Yakima Valley Pippins. Find info on tickets and pricing here.
Between those two blast-filled bonanzas, you should get your fireworks fix. That’s a good thing, since all of Deschutes County–both Bend and Redmond–have banned both legal and illegal fireworks for regular ol’ citizens. Between the drought and a couple scary brushfires earlier this week, it became way too risky to have folks out there swinging sparklers around. Lucky for us, Bend’s City Council and the Deschutes County Commissioners implemented a ban this year to help protect the people and places you love around Central Oregon. As is always the case, fireworks are illegal on all public lands around Bend, so thanks for doing your part to keep us safe.
How about festivals and parades?
Bend Park and Rec had to make the call two months ago about holding the traditional Old Fashioned 4th of July Festival and the Pet Parade in 2021. With strict COVID rules still in place back then and no crystal ball available, they made the decision to cancel it for one more year. Things should hopefully be back to normal by next year, so Bend’s longstanding traditions will pick back up where they left off before you know it.
You’ll still find plenty of fun stuff happening around Bend, including First Friday Art Walk, historic guided tours in Drake Park, and more. Check out our Event Calendar to see what’s going on.
There’s also ample biking, river floating, kayaking, and hiking to keep you busy. See our Summer Fun page for ideas.
What else is can I do?
Bend’s brewery scene is back at full capacity with social distancing rules lifted. To celebrate, head for your favorite brewery, then turn around and stop because holycowyouguys! We’ve just unveiled the brand-new Bend Ale Trail featuring tons more stops scattered around Central Oregon. Time to explore something new! We’ve got gobs more breweries, plus distilleries, cideries, wineries, and paired experiences rounding out the seven territories that now make up America’s favorite beer trail. Learn more and get a gander at the new prizing system here.
Now’s also a good time to spread lots of love around Bend’s restaurant scene. These guys were hit extra hard by the pandemic and could use your business now, so get out there and do some dining.
If you think Mt. Bachelor is only a wintertime attraction, you’re in for a treat. The mountain’s summer season is already in full swing with the downhill mountain bike park, disc golf, ziplining, 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.
Outdoor play is Bend’s biggest draw, and you’ll find plenty of ways to embrace Mother Nature. From hiking to canoeing to fly fishing, make sure you’re scheduling some time to get your nature fix. Want to give back to those wild places that feed your soul? Consider a donation to Pledge for the Wild to help land managers tend the land and water you love.
Uh-oh…I don’t have a place to stay. Now what?
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 browse 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 camping’s what you’re after, keep in mind that COVID changed lots of things on that front. For starters, most campgrounds now require reservations, many of which booked up months in advance. Secondly, the pandemic caused a surge in popularity for camping and RVing, so there are tons more people trying for campsites who’d never pitched a tent two years ago. Competition is fierce for the few first-come, first-served sites out there, so know there’s a good chance you’ll strike out if you sally forth without something nailed down. Check out our complete roundup of campgrounds and RV parks to get a sense of what’s out there, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
Can I float the river?
Absolutely! After last year’s hiatus on shuttles and tube rentals, those services are back and better than ever. Check out this blog post for everything you need to know about river floating in 2021.
Anything else I should know?
We’ve all been through a lot these past 16 months. I’d give each of you a hug if I could, but let’s settle for pledging together to do our best to be patient with our fellow humans. That guy hesitating too long at a roundabout may not have left his house much while caring for an ailing loved one, so ease off the horn. That jam-packed trailhead you’re desperate to hit will still be there next year, so there’s no need to rage at fellow hikers or invent your own parking spot on the fragile forest floor. The restaurant with the really slow service might be struggling to hire enough workers in the wake of pandemic restrictions, so be patient with your server and leave a generous tip.
If we’ve learned nothing else this past year, it’s that we’re all in this together. Be kind to one another, folks. I’ll see you out on the trail.