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10 Adventures To Do On A Summer Road Trip Through Bend

10 things to do in Bend Oregon in Summer: Sumemer Adventure road trip in Bend

Is your summer road trip taking you near Bend, Oregon?  We love visiting Bend and every time we come through this beautiful city we find more and more exciting adventures to do.

 We love the nature here, the delicious food to eat, and especially, how many nice people we encounter.  If your next summer road trip gets you close to Bend, here are ten adventurous ways to spend your time exploring the city and the surrounding area.

Summer Adventures is within an hour of Bend…

Cascade Lakes Highway.  

This 66-mile stretch of highway is host to dozens of lakes and views of the three sisters mountain range as well as Mt Bachelor and Broken Top Mountain. With numerous options for hiking, camping, fishing, and kayaking it’s hard to choose where to start. Elk Lake is a popular destination as it offers camping, cabins, rentals, and a restaurant.  It has a nice beach and easy access to the water, making it a great choice for kids to play at.

Since we were looking for something quieter, we chose to camp at Lava Lake, just ten miles south of Elk Lake.  The next day, we enjoyed the short two-mile round-trip hike to Alice Lake.  The Trailhead for Alice Lake is just one mile south of Lava Lake on the west side and has plenty of free parking and a pit toilet.  But our favorite hike was the two-mile loop at Sparks Lake. Make sure to stop and take pictures of the beautiful Devils Lake. I couldn’t believe the shade of turquoise of this lake!  If you feel adventurous (& have a 4-wheel drive) trek up to Broken Top Mountain.

Cascade Lakes Highway, Things to do in Bend in summer
Cascade Lakes

Steelhead Falls

We originally found out about this via The Outbound as we were on a mission to go cliff jumping that day.  When coming from the north through Terrebonne (just north of Redmond) there are two must-do stops. The first is Steelhead Falls. This one can be just a few hours excision or you can do as we did and go there late in the afternoon and stay in the free campground at the Trailhead.

Either way, it’s an easy half-mile hike down to the falls where you can be braver and take the 30-foot jump from the viewpoint or go a little more north and jump from the rocks that are only fifteen to twenty feet high. Either way, use caution and common sense.  Check out the video of us cliff-jumping here.

Smith Rock

It’s a must whenever we pass through Bend to stop here and climb. It is absolutely stunning and although I do recommend trying rock climbing here (Smith Rock Climbing Guides), even hiking here is incredible. It can get very hot in the summer so try to time it for early in the morning or late in the afternoon/evening. If you do climb, we recommend 5 Gallon Buckets and the 500-foot multi-pitch Wherever I May Roam (ironic, right?!).

Best Oregon Campgrounds
A visit to Bend, Oregon wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Smith Rock

Sisters/Mackenzie River Trail  

I fell in love with this area the first time we visited it. It’s a much smaller town than Bend but it still has great food and a friendly vibe.  There are quite a few waterfall hikes within an hour’s drive of Sisters including Sahalie & Kush Falls, Proxy Falls, and Hidden Lake.

Related Blog: 5 Adventurous Things To Do On The Mackenzie River Trail

Summer Adventures In The City of Bend…

Walk along the Deschutes River and Drake Park.  For a mellower day, enjoy the beauty of the river flowing through town while getting your shopping and eating fix in this up-and-coming city.

For a little more adventure, go inner tubing or river surfing on the Deschutes River at the surf park.  Whether you decide to tube or surf, there is a wave for you.  No seriously, there are four different waves to choose from.  Three are specifically and exclusively for surfers and the other is a gentle rapid to get your inner tubing excursion started.  You can even check the surf report for Bend Whitewater Park.

Get adventurous with your taste buds.  Bend is a Foodie’s paradise. Some of our favorite things are Sourdough bread at Great Harvest Bread Co;  Two of our favorite things to buy here are the apple scone and sourdough loaf of bread.  Order your bread in the morning to guarantee you get a loaf.

Heavenly gelato from Bontà; We spent a lot of time eating gelato in Italy and we have to say, Bontà gives gelato from Italy a run for its money!  My favorites were lavender honey and salted chocolate.

Bonta Gelato, Bend: Best Creamy Treats Around the World
Bonta Gelato, Bend

Coffee from Lone Pine Coffee Roasters;  Make sure you grab a bag of beans to take with you when you hit the road again.  Oil & vinegar from Navidi’s;  After our last visit, we now have a new favorite salad dressing: fig vinegar mixed with blood orange olive oil … YUM!  

Summer Adventures just on the outskirts of Bend…

Phils Trailhead.   We thought we had enough adrenaline-filled addictions until we mountain biked here at Phil’s.  The system of trails here makes it so that all levels of mountain bikers can have a fun ride.  It is a great family destination and my kids really enjoyed playing on the pump track while I appreciated the easy and flow trail of Kent’s to KGB to Phil’s.  

Related Blog: Mountain Biking Bend: 5 Epic Rides You Must Do

Biking Phils, 10 adventures to do on summer road trip bend
Rad pump track at Phils

9. Camp at Tumalo State Park. This is one of the nicest state parks I’ve ever been to.  I love how clean the campground bathrooms are and that the hot showers are free.  There is a river you can float down and you can hike to Tumalo Falls from here.   

Related Blog: Best Campgrounds In Oregon

Summer Adventures on your way in or out of Bend…

10.  Visit Crater Lake National Park.  We have skipped this detour many times on our road trips through Bend, but I am so glad we finally made the time to stop here.  You can easily make a half or full day of it, but this is one of those places you have to see once in your lifetime!  From Crater Lake, head up to La Pine and check out our blog about McKay Campground.  

Have you been to Bend? What’s your favorite adventure? Let us know in the comments below!

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Wednesday 12th of July 2023

A note on tumalo state park — tumalo falls is a 45 minute drive from tumalo state park. It’s a completely different location just in case anyone is curious.

Our 11-Week Summer Adventure Road Trip: 5000 Miles of Memories • Nomads With A Purpose

Wednesday 11th of April 2018

[…] Related Blog: 10 Adventures To Do On A Summer Road Trip Through Bend […]

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Tuesday 3rd of April 2018

[…] Make sure you check out 10 Adventures to do on a Summer Road Trip Through Bend […]

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