From the brisk salty air of the West coast to the lush green Willamette valley, the snow-peaked Cascade Mountains, and the arid high desert, Oregon is a state with many different faces. The high desert of central and eastern Oregon looks nothing like the green hipster city of Portland, a three hours drive away. It's the driest part of the state, though not enough to truly qualify as a desert. There are plenty of Central Oregon Attractions, here's why you need to visit.
Central Oregon is becoming more and more popular as destination for outdoor activities in both summer and winter. We've had the chance to explore this high desert wonderland a bit more since our family moved to Redmond, Oregon and we've really grown to enjoy the area.
Central Oregon attractions include major rivers like the Deschutes and John Day rivers, as well as several lakes. Activities like fishing, white water rafting, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and inner tubing are all very popular. Make sure to choose a nice hot summer day for your water adventures or wear a wet suit. The water is pretty cold year round!
In the winter, visitors flock to the slopes of Mount Bachelor for downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and more. The mountain is one of the largest ski areas in the Pacific Northwest. There are plenty of resorts and cozy cabins that are an easy drive from Mt. Bachelor, including Black Butte Resort, Sun River Resort, and Eagle Crest Resort.
A great way to enjoy Central Oregon is by biking or hiking through the many parks. Horseback riding is also common and you'll find plenty of rock climbers in the beautiful Smith Rock State Park. Outdoor activities abound, thanks to the dry climate which brings around 300 sunny days a year.
To truly connect with the outdoors, pitch a tent, bring your RV, or rent a yurt in a campground. Keep an eye out for eagles, falcons, deer, otter and beavers which are all common sightings in Central Oregon!
Another Central Oregon Attraction are the several charming towns in the high desert that are worth a visit in themselves. Bend is the most popular and has grown tremendously in the past decade. In addition to the breweries, farmers markets, and shopping, you'll also find that the river runs right through town, so water sports are easily accessed from the heart of the city.
Sisters, Oregon is a quaint little town with an old-fashioned Western look. It's a great place window shop and grab a sweet treat. Redmond, Oregon is another small town that's seeing a bit of a revival as tourism grows. And just outside of Redmond is the tiny town of Tumalo, which has a fantastic local coffee shop. All three of these towns also have their own food cart pods, a trend that seems to be carried over from Portland.
Here's a listing of recommended hotels and vacation rentals around Central Oregon if you're looking for a place to stay.
You'll find plenty of art studios and boutiques in Central Oregon towns. Another large draw for visitors are the area's various events, including 10 annual craft beer festivals. Other popular events include the Sisters Rodeo, a Free Summer Concert Series, The Bite of Bend food festival, Barks and Recreation Dog Festival, Shakespeare in the Park, monthly Art Walks, and weekly farmers markets.
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We are J & M, a married couple in our mid-thirties who love to travel. We've made Redmond, Oregon our home base because of the sunny weather, beautiful mountains, hiking, and other outdoor activities.