Crater Lake National Park near Bend, OR

Explore the Beauty of Central Oregon

State & National Parks

Explore the Beautiful Public Lands of Central Oregon

State and National Parks Near Bend

As if you need another reason to love Bend. Well, here’s one. Within a ten to 45-minute drive, you can access several Oregon State Parks that offer world-class rock climbing to dormant volcanoes and epic wildlife. And only two hours away is Crater Lake National Park, home to the deepest, and if I do say so myself, most astonishing and beautiful lake in North America.

Central Oregon boasts an abundance of state parks and state scenic viewpoints. Lucky for you, Bend makes a great home base to explore them all.

Smith Rock State Park belongs on everyone’s Central Oregon bucket list, with its towering basalt cliffs and sparkling gem of the Crooked River winding its way . You can scale rock walls in the birthplace of modern American sport climbing or set out with binoculars and the hope of spotting golden eagles, prairie falcons, mule deer, river otters, and beaver.

If you’d rather stick closer to Bend, Tumalo State Park is an excellent option for camping, hiking, splashing in the river, or even planning a picnic, wedding, or family reunion. (Hint: This is not the location of Tumalo Falls, which is 14 miles west of Bend, off Skyliners Road—we know, it’s kinda confusing!) Another state park smack dab in the center of Bend is Pilot Butte. This ancient cinder cone gives Bend bragging rights as one of the only towns in the continental U.S. with a dormant volcano in the city limits, and you can hike or drive to the top for jaw-dropping 360-degree views of the city.

Plan a visit to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument to fully embrace Central Oregon’s volcanic heritage. Dotting a dormant shield volcano the size of Rhode Island, you’ll find ancient lava flows, jagged volcanic glass, rivers, lakes, caves, hot springs, waterfalls, and forests.

For national parks a bit farther from Bend, pack up the car for a day trip to Crater Lake National Park. It’s well worth the two-hour drive from Bend to see the deepest lake in North America, which was formed when Mt. Mazama erupted more than 7,700 years ago. The hole is now filled with the most stunning turquoise water you’ll ever see, so bring extra camera batteries for this one.

Craving another awesome day trip from Bend? Journey to the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, where the Painted Hills will knock your socks off with delicately colored soil stratifications in layers of yellow, gold, black, and red.

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