When August rolls through Bend, we pay attention. She brings our hottest days tempered by nights tiptoeing toward chilly as fall hunkers on the horizon. Dramatic thunderstorms bring much-needed moisture, but also lightning-sparked wildfires spurring the year’s most spellbinding sunsets. You can splash and play in rivers and lakes, then drop exhausted into a star-filled slumber as August days get shorter and shorter.
August also marks my birthday month, and I might’ve just described my fellow Leos to a tee, but let’s not dwell. Here’s what’s awesome about August in Bend, Oregon.
Hit those high lakes hiking trails
Most able-bodied Bend visitors have hiking on their bucket list, and August is when it’s wise to watch outside factors like heat and smoke.
High desert thunderstorms are a thing of wonder, but lightning wreaks havoc on our forests. When planning August hikes, start with a skim through Central Oregon fire info to gauge what’s ablaze nearby. Downloading an air quality app like the EPA’s AirNow can help you determine whether smoke and wind conditions have turned your favorite trail into a Traeger grill.
If smoke’s not a factor, the trails off the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway make great options in August when most of the snow gets gone from high-altitude spots. If you’re craving some challenge, it’s time to try Tumalo Mountain, or pick a scenic loop trail like Lucky Lake or Blow Lake.
The Deschutes River Trail includes endless miles of trails and options for trekkers of all levels, and its proximity to town lets you squeeze in a post-breakfast hike and be back to your hotel in time for lunch.
Before setting out, pack plenty of sunscreen and water, and plan trailside stops in the shade. Bend’s high desert heat can be intense if you’re not used to it, so give yourself tons of extra time—especially when it’s hot out.
When hiking with four-legged friends, check out these tips for keeping your pup safe and happy, especially in warm August temps.
And as always, practice Leave No Trace principles when hiking in Bend’s great outdoors.
Be cool in lakes and rivers
Sure, you can hang out at your hotel pool when August’s temperatures soar. But why not combine your cooling soak with some outdoor adventure?
For a more serene river experience, try floating the Deschutes River as it ambles through the Old Mill District and Downtown Bend. The river shuttle runs daily in August to keep floaters circulating between the put-in and takeout. Go here to learn everything you need to know about floating the river in Bend.
For other forms of water play, including canoeing, swimming, and surfing (yep, really!) follow the links on this page.
Twirl with the sunshine on your shoulders
Summer concert season stays in full swing throughout August, including live shows at Hayden Homes Amphitheater, free shows in Drake Park for Munch and Music, and more intimate venues like Oregon Spirit Distillers and Flights Wine Bar.
While Faith Hope and Charity vineyards may be on your radar for wine, they have a robust roster of live music throughout August. Bring a blanket or a low-backed chair, but leave food and drinks at home––there’s plenty to purchase on site.
If live theater is your jam, act early to snag seats for plays staged on the banks of the sparkling Deschutes in Drake Park. Shows typically take place in late August and tickets go fast.For more ideas on getting your art fix outside, check Visit Bend’s event calendar for things happening in August.
Whether it’s smoke or thunderstorms driving you indoors, or you just need a break from summer’s heat, there’s no shame in enjoying Bend’s indoor spaces in between August adventures.
Make dinner reservations at one of Bend’s award-winning restaurants. Plan a fun family outing at the High Desert Museum and enjoy both indoor and outdoor spaces with native wildlife, indigenous art, interactive exhibits, and natural history.
Time to make plans
Right around my mid-August birthday, panic sets in. Nope, it’s not an age thing. It’s when I realize my favorite summer activities have a ticking clock attached.
My annual birthday meteor shower (which apparently has a real name and isn’t held only for my birthday?) peaks each year around August 11-13. For prime viewing, head out to Pine Mountain Observatory or the Oregon Observatory in Sunriver, or stick closer to Bend with the Hopservatory at Worthy Brewing.
Want to enjoy Mt. Bachelor’s summer offerings like disc golf, ziplining, scenic chairlift rides, the downhill bike park, and the ultimate sunset dinner at 7,800 feet? Scope out your options for summertime fun, then book your plans before the season runs out.
Camping gets colder as August fades and fall grabs nighttime temps with chilly hands. Get those last August camping trips on the books pronto! While some spots have first-come, first-served sites, many require reservations through recreation.gov or the Oregon State Parks reservation system. Pro-tip: even if you didn’t book a year in advance, you’ve still got a shot at last-minute cancellations, so don’t give up if things look full. Do keep in mind that August brings our driest days and strictest fire rules, so pay attention to fire restrictions.