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The best things to do in Bend for October

A couple walk along the trail at Drake Park in Downtown Bend, Oregon.

Ahhh…October. A month filled with fall leaves, pumpkin spice pastries, and more ghosts than you can shake a stick at.

(Editor’s note: Please don’t shake sticks at anyone. It’s kinda rude, plus poking your eye out makes it tough to see Bend’s beautiful scenery).

With that caveat covered, Bend, Oregon is a magical place to be as October shrugs off her leafy cloak and pulls on her Patagonia puffy.

Want to know what’s awesome to eat, do, drink, and enjoy as October arrives in Bend, Oregon? Read on!

Aerial view of Fall Foliage in Downtown Bend, Oregon.

In October, Downtown Bend is covered in a wide array of fall foliage.

What’s up with the weather?

October brings a mixed bag of weather to Bend. Some years, we’ll see 80-degree temps in the early part of the month. Other years, we’ll get snow. Heck, we might get both those things in one 24-hour period if it’s a really wonky year and you’re bopping around between our higher elevations and activities right in town.

Sticking to lower elevations means you can still spend October SUPing or kayaking on the Deschutes River, even if the high Cascade Lakes start seeing early snow flurries. 

If you’re visiting Bend in October, it pays to prepare for anything. Shorts and flip-flops? Temps might be warm enough! Sweaters and snow pants? You could need those, too. It’s common in October to find myself running both the heater and the air conditioning on the same day.

It pays to pack plenty of layers and keep a close eye on the weather since you never know what October might hurl at us. If you’re venturing into the great outdoors, it’s more important than ever to pack the 10 essentials and let someone know where you’re going.

But the upside to all this wonky weather is that you’ll experience the best of both worlds with a little warmth, a little fall chill, and a whole ‘lotta scenic beauty.

 

Blogger Tawna samples fresh hop offerings at Wild Ride Brewing in Bend, Oregon.

Blogger Tawna samples fresh hop offerings at Wild Ride Brewing.

It’s the most wonderful time of the beer

If you twisted my arm to pick whether I prefer fresh hop season or the abundance of October pumpkin beer, I’d yank my arm back because I need both hands to hold a pint of each type of brew.

October’s when Bend Ale Trail taplists teem with tempting seasonal offerings. You’ll see fresh hop versions of flagship beers like Sunriver Brewing’s Vicious Mosquito IPA and even their Fuzztail Heffeweizen, both of which get a boost from the fresh-hoppy flavor. Bevel Brewing makes another one of my favorite fresh hop beers (which I hesitate to tell you about because it always sells out quick!) You’ll spot more fresh hop offerings on taplists ranging from GoodLife (150 Hippies Fresh Hop Pale) to Wild Ride in Redmond (Strata-Sphere Fresh Hop IPA) and more.

If pumpkin brews are more your scene, get thee to 10 Barrel for a taste of their seasonal Jamaican Me Pumpkin (malty and spicy and oh-so-good!) and Big Ol’ Pumpkin (it’s like pie in a glass!) 

Other taprooms will have similar seasonal treats they roll out their fall offerings, so keep your eyes on the social media pages for all your favorite Bend Ale Trail breweries. Bonus: With your passport in hand or the free app added to your phone, you’ll be ready to roll when Bend Ale Trail Month arrives in November!

 

A group enjoys a wine tasting at a winery in Bend, Oregon.

Bend Wine Month gives you an excellent excuse to check off a few stops in the Drinkable Diversions section of your Bend Ale Trail passport.

What’s shakin’ around town?

Bend’s October calendar bursts with special events worth planning around for your autumn vacation.

For starters, the first annual Bend Wine Month gives you great reasons to sip and swirl your way between Bend’s wine tasting rooms. While it’s best to make a weekend of it and take your time with each wine stop, you can make a full day of it by starting in the Old Mill District and hitting Evoke Winery and Va Piano in one fell swoop. Then take a break for lunch before walking to the Box Factory for the tasting room trifecta of Bledsoe, Stoller, and Bend Wine Bar. Give your liver another rest as you stroll from there to Downtown Bend, stopping for a scenic walk in Drake Park. Then head for your dinner reservations at Domaine Serene to cap off your wine tour in style. Once you’ve hit all six stops, turn in your passport for a shot at some great prizes.

Another quintessential autumn event is the BendFilm Festival. This celebration of independent cinema always falls (pun intended) the second weekend in October and features exclusive screenings, discussions with directors, and plenty of parties. Get your tickets early and prepare for an incredible time enjoying what MovieMaker named “one of the 25 coolest film festivals in the world.”

If you missed Bend Oktoberfest during its pandemic hiatus, you’ll be thrilled to hear it’s back and better than ever. It features arts and craft booths, life music, and a family zone, plus traditional Oktoberfest food and events.

Want more ideas for October events happening in Bend? Check out our Event Calendar and start planning now!

 

Blogger Tawna tests out a divining rod while on a Ghost Tour in Bend, Oregon.

Blogger Tawna tests out a divining rod as part of the experience with Bend Ghost Tours.

Get your ghost on

You don’t have to wait until October to plan an outing with Bend Ghost Tours, but it certainly feels more seasonal this time of year. Join them for a walking tour of Downtown Bend and hear tons of spooktacular stories torn from Bend’s history books. Keep an eye on their calendar, since rumor has it they’ll be offering special kid-friendly tours to usher in the season.

Another source of ghostly lore is the Deschutes Historical Museum and their annual ghost tours. These typically take place in a shorter window of time and offer different tales from what you’ll hear from Bend Ghost Tours, with lots of cool history to round out the stories. Availability changes each year, so watch their website for this year’s times and dates.

Plenty of Bend year-round Bend businesses give you ample opportunity to embrace the Halloween spirit. Want to channel your inner zombie slayer? Hit Zero Latency Bend and let technology treat you to a wild hour of destroying the undead from the safety of a 1,600-foot arena. Need to embrace your ax murdering alter ego? At Unofficial Logging Company, you’ll get personalized coaching to help you hurl hatchets at the bullseye until you’ve mastered the skill. With food and a full taplist, they’ll set you up for a sweet afternoon of bonding with friends as you hum the theme from your favorite Halloween slasher flick.

 

A couple walk along the trail at Drake Park in Downtown Bend, Oregon.

Enjoy the fall foliage as you walk along the trail at Drake Park.

Catch some fall colors

Bend’s altitude and the preponderance of evergreens over deciduous trees means we experience fall a bit differently than they do in Oregon’s rainier regions. The dates to see the season’s brightest fall colors can swing wildly between September and October, but odds are good you’ll see some of the show if you arrive in early-to-mid-October.

Take a drive through older neighborhoods in Northeast Bend or off Mt. Washington Drive where big leafy oaks and aspens explode in bright hues of gold and orange. 

Catch plenty of color just strolling through Downtown Bend, but riverfront sweet spots are where the real action happens. Take a walk through Drake Park or Pioneer Park to see explosions of orange and red at every turn in the trail. And don’t miss Shevlin Park’s special display of aspens and tamarack trees turning bright gold against the backdrop of evergreen beauty.

 

Child looks out the window of a car as they drive to a trailhead near Bend, Oregon.

Time to squeeze in that final Paulina Lake hike before the snow gate closes the road for the season.

Watch those seasonal closures

You know how I mentioned the wonky fall weather in October? That makes it tricky to say for certain when high-elevation attractions start shutting their gates for the season.

So we’ll talk in general terms here, knowing October’s when you’ll start to see snow thwarting your plans at some upper elevations. The snow gate just past Mt. Bachelor on the Cascade Lakes Highway typically shuts for the season in the latter part of October (though in low snow years, it can hold out ‘til November). 

Same holds true for the seasonal gate closure on Paulina Lake Road starting at 10 Mile SnoPark. This one cuts off driving access to Newberry Caldera until spring, so you definitely want to squeeze in your last visit before snow takes you down a peg. 

To keep tabs on the timing of these road closures and several others, follow the Deschutes National Forest on Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t do social media, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s TripCheck site is another great resource for road closure info.

Winter weather also brings closures to some of our in-town attractions, including the ever-popular Pilot Butte summit road. You can still hike to the top any day of the year, but if you’re looking to drive it, you’d best fit it in before the end of October. November 1 is when it typically closes to cars, though that date can come earlier if we get a big dump of snow.

October’s also when Bend’s irrigation canals shut down for the season. I know some folks see these as glorified irrigation ditches, but if you’re fond of wandering beside one in northeast or southwest Bend, it’s worth working in a few final walks before your water feature goes to sleep for the season.

 

Two dogs walk along the shore at Todd Lake near Bend, Oregon.

Blue skies at Todd Lake make fall hiking a blast here, but time’s ticking! It won’t be long before the snow gate alters your access for the season.

What’s good for hiking?

By now, you’re catching on to the fact that lots of things hinge on weather in October. I’ve lived here long enough to recall 2009 when we got a foot of snow in town during the first week of October. But a scroll through my phone pics reminds me of 2021 when I was out SUPing in shorts and a t-shirt on Lava Lake that exact same week.

In other words, take the following with a grain of salt (or a flake of snow, as the case may be…)

An early snow might make it tough to trek trails off the Cascade Lakes Highway as October wears on, schedule one last hike around Todd Lake or Tumalo Mountain early in the month. Bonus: Areas in the Central Cascades that require permits in peak season will drop those permit requirements starting Oct. 15. Go here for more info on where and when you need a permit for backcountry camping and hiking.

I always try to fit in one last loop around Suttle Lake before the snow starts flying, and Sparks Lake sucks me in for the exact same reason. What’s great is that both trails––typically teeming with hikers in the summer months––are virtually deserted in October. 

For more ideas on great hiking in October, try this post on 10 fall loop hikes or this one on 12 short but sweet fall hikes

Happy adventuring, everyone! And have an even happier October in Bend.

 

 

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