Central Oregon Tour
Escape from the rainy west side with a weeklong tour of central Oregon.
If you’re starting from Portland, drive U.S. 26 over the hump of Mount Hood and spend your first afternoon and night at Kah-Nee-Ta, on the Warm Springs Reservation. Plan to venture down to the big day-use pool for a real swim or a few runs on the water slide.
Following a morning swim, visit the Museum at Warm Springs to learn more about Native American culture. Then drive to Madras and have lunch at Great Earth Natural Foods. Continue south on U.S. 97 to Terrebone, where you’ll turn off to Smith Rock State Park. Hike the trails and watch climbers scale the rocks, then drive down to Bend and settle into your room at McMenamins’ Old St. Francis School.
Begin the day with breakfast at the Chow and a stroll or bike ride along the Deschutes River Trail. Spend part of the day wandering around downtown and the Old Mill District—stop by Pine Mountain Sports or REI to pick up any camping or outdoor gear you might need for the next couple of nights.
Head up the Cascade Lakes Highway to hike, fish, or just hang out on a lakeshore. Camp at a hike-in site at Todd Lake, or find a more convenient car-camping site at one of the other lakes along the road. (If you’re not camping, several lakeside resorts rent rustic cabins.) Consider spending more than one night here; once you’ve found the perfect camping spot, it seems a shame to leave it, and there are plenty of trails to hike.
Drive down to Sunriver on Route 42 (catch it just past Crane Prairie Reservoir), then south a few miles on U.S. 97 to the turnoff for Newberry Volcano. Head up to the caldera, where you can hike the trail through the Big Obsidian Flow, and then find your new campground at either Paulina or East Lake (or a cabin at one of the rustic lakeside resorts).
After you break camp, head back down the volcano and north on U.S. 97. Stop to explore the Lava River Caves and the Lava Lands Visitor Center, then take the short hike to Benham Falls. Continue north and spend the afternoon at the High Desert Museum (don’t worry, they have a café), then spend the night in either Bend or Sisters.
Finish your week with a river trip. Get up early and drive north of Madras to Maupin, where you’ll meet your river guide for a day trip on the Deschutes River. Wear sunscreen and quick-dry shorts, and take a swim down the Elevator for us!
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel