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The 10 best spring experiences in Bend, Oregon

Spring flowers bursting through the snow in Bend, Oregon.

Want to know a secret? In springtime, Bend becomes a magical vortex. 

It’s a mystical realm filled with blue skies and T-shirt weather in the same space as snowy ski slopes. A single day might bring perfect paddleboarding sunshine and the world’s most amazing moonlight snowshoe adventure.

Welcome to springtime in Bend, where you’re likely to run both your a/c and heater on the same day. Whether you’re planning a family spring break, a friends’ getaway, or just a basic Bend trip, these 10 spring experiences will take your magical vacay from “whoa” to “WHOOOOOA.” 

Group of women walk the Deschutes River Trail in Bend, Oregon.

Enjoy birding and identifying wildflowers along the Deschutes River Trail.

Spring hiking

While occasional trail muck forms after spring showers, our high desert landscape sees lots less moisture than the rainier side of the state. That opens up an awesome realm of trails as the snow starts to vanish.

The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is especially nice this time of  year, with Bend’s bright blue skies offering a stunning contrast to ancient junipers and craggy lava rock. Spots like Suttle Lake, the Deschutes River Trail, and Tam-A-Lau Trail in Cove Palisades State Park make for excellent spring hiking, and seldom have the ice and snow of higher elevations.

Now’s also a good time to scope out areas that are still closed to vehicles. Hoof it up the wide, paved road to the top of Pilot Butte without fretting about cars. Head to Tumalo Falls knowing you may have to hike a couple miles to reach the main trailhead, but you won’t fight crowds like you do in mid-summer.

For more ideas on hikes that are awesome this time of year, check out this post.

Woman plays disk golf at Pine Nursery in Bend, Oregon.

Grab your friends and play a round of disk gold at Pine Nursery.

Three sports in one day

Bend gets to brag as one of the few spots in the nation where it’s easy to do three outdoor sports in one day. No season makes that simpler than spring.

Spend your morning shredding the slopes at Mt. Bachelor, then head downhill for a bit of mountain biking, followed by nine holes of golf.

If skiing’s not your jam, take a twirl on the ice at the Pavilion, then cruise to the nearby Bend Whitewater Park to practice your surfing or kayak rolls (don’t forget the dry suit!) Cap it off with a round of disc golf at Pine Nursery.

There’s also hiking, fat biking, paddling, and a variety of other sports to fit into your vacay. Pick the ones that pique your interest and get out there with a plan.

Man fly fishing in Bend, Oregon.

Important note: When fishing, bring barbless hooks, a rubber mesh net, and a knowledge of how to humanely handle the catch-and-release process

Here, fishy fishy…

Whether you’re a fly-fishing enthusiast or a spin-fishing fan—or heck, just someone who wants to try it—Bend’s a great spot to cast a line.

When springtime rolls around, the water warms to the perfect temps for trout. Fish start feeding more aggressively, practically tripping over one another to hop on the end of your line.  

For up-to-the-minute info about details like opening dates for certain lakes and stretches of river, check with local experts like Fly and Field Outfitters, Bend Fly Shop, and The Fly Fisher’s Place. They’ll also have insights about water flow levels, dams, and other details that can impact fishing in Bend.

To make things even easier on yourself, check out our fishing page to learn more about booking a guided fishing adventure. Also, keep sustainability in mind by bringing barbless hooks, a rubber mesh net, and a knowledge of how to humanely handle the catch-and-release process.

Two women identify a wildflower on a trail in Bend, Oregon.

There are plenty of different wildflower species to identify along the trails in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.

Look for wildflowers

Bend’s springtime blooms aren’t the flashy sort you’ll find on the rainy side of the mountains. But there’s something wondrous about the tiny desert flowers that spring up through soft sand and lava rock in Central Oregon’s high desert.

Keep your eyes peeled for bitterroot blossom, sand lilies, and dime-sized goldfields, which are often the first blooms of the season.

Pilot Butte and the Oregon Badlands Wilderness are excellent places to watch for bright little bits of color. For more info on our native desert wildflowers, check out this post from our friends at Deschutes Land Trust.


Score deals on lodging

If you’ve ever booked Bend lodging in July or August, you’re likely still reeling from the sticker shock of high season prices.

That’s not the case in shoulder seasons like spring and fall when tons of Bend hotels offer screamin’ deals for visitors willing to travel during off-peak times.

To score the best prices on Bend hotels and vacation rentals, peruse the websites for your top picks to see if anyone’s offering special perks like lift tickets or extra nights free. Also consider traveling mid-week and avoiding holidays to ensure you’re not paying a premium for your Bend lodging.

Family heading to the slopes at Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon.

In Bend, we have the opportunity to ski late into the Spring.

Snow and sunshine

While things are winding down at plenty of ski resorts across the country, Mt. Bachelor is still going strong for a few more months. Bend’s beloved ski hill has one of the longest seasons North America, lasting from around Thanksgiving each year through Memorial Weekend.

Mt. Bachelor is famous for its bluebird days throughout spring, and it’s not uncommon to spot skiers carving up the slopes in short sleeves and sunscreen.

Keep a close eye on the Mt. Bachelor website for announcements of their annual Springtacular deals, which score you some killer prices on lift tickets in April and May.

BBQ plate from Baldy's BBQ in Bend, Oregon.

Baldy’s BBQ in Bend, Oregon.

Barbecue, beer, and Bontá

While walking the dogs last night, I strolled into a cloud of barbecue smoke so deliciously fragrant, I time-traveled to mid-August. There are certain foods and beverages that invoke the magic of warmer weather, and now’s a great time to steal an early taste.

Embrace the beginnings of spring by ordering mouthwatering barbecue at Baldy’s. If you’re a DIY kinda barbecue fan, plenty of Bend vacation rentals and Bend hotels boast grills guests can use.

Grab an ice cream cone at Bontá Natural Artisan Gelato or Goody’s Chocolates and Ice Cream, then stroll through Drake park on a sunny afternoon.

Wander the Bend Ale Trail in search of lighter pilsners, lagers, and spring seasonals that seem to pop up each year when the weather shifts.

Consider it a training regimen for your taste buds.


Fun times for tours

As we ease into spring, things get more interesting for organized tours. There’s still enough snow for Wanderlust Tours to offer their popular snowshoe outings, but they also sprinkle Deschutes River kayak tours into the mix. 

Now’s also a good time for horseback riding tours, since we’re in the perfect zone of not-too-cold, not-too-hot. Ditto that for an outing with Cascade Center of Photography, offering photo tours with the added perk of spring sunrises and sunsets posing all pretty for you.

Couple walk past the Art in Tin Pan Alley.

Enjoy the public art on display in Tin Pan Alley.

Savor that stroll outside

When the weather’s not awesome, I catch myself sprinting from the car to my favorite Bend restaurant like wild badgers are chasing me.

But when the weather turns warm, I take my time strolling. It’s a pleasure to amble between shops during First Friday Art Walk, or to walk from brewery to brewery collecting Bend Ale Trail stamps. 

Bonus: It’s great for the environment to walk instead of drive (plus no need for a DD if you’re drinking).  

There is plenty of indoor fun to be had at the High Desert Museum.

There is plenty of indoor fun to be had at the High Desert Museum.

Play indoors without guilt

Anyone else get twitchy at the thought of being stuck inside when it’s warm and sunny? Summertime prompts me to savor every activity from yoga to dining to napping outdoors.

But what’s great about Bend’s unpredictable spring weather is the built-in excuse to enjoy more indoorsy activities. Spend the day at the High Desert Museum. Take the kids to play games at Sun Mountain Fun Center or zip around the indoor kart racing track at K1.

Book a stay at McMenamins Old St. Francis and cross several things off your Bend bucket list with a stamp in your Bend Ale Trail passport, a movie at their on-site theater, and a blissful float in their semi-enclosed soaking tub.

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