Must-See Places on a Central Oregon Road Trip


A central Oregon road trip is one the most memorable experiences you can have in the west.

Many people skip Oregon’s interior and go straight to the coast. But central Oregon is well-known for its recreational activities. It is definitely worth visiting. Imagine climbing mountains, skiing down volcanoes and relaxing in cozy cabins while sipping cocktails.

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These are great spots for a getaway at any time of the year

  • Bend

Situated on the Deschutes River, Bend is a small city known both for its logging economics and for its use as a recreational-activity launching pad.

Pilot Butte is home to approximately 94,000 people. It is a lava dome that was created by an extinct volcano and is great for exploring. The dome offers stunning views over the surrounding city, whether you visit it in summer or winter. It has a 1.8-mile hike out-and-back that you can enjoy.

Other great things to do are to visit the High Desert Museum, hit up one of the 2 dozen golf courses, hike, visit Tumalo Falls, restaurant/brewery hopping, and engage in adventure activities like rock climbing, mountain biking and white-waterrafting.

The Cascade Lodge offers four-star accommodation in Bend. The Cascade Lodge is a homey property with a sun deck and a seasonal outdoor swimming pool.

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The Element Bend is a mid-range hotel that offers a gym, hot tub, in-room fridges, and microwaves.

  • Sisters Country

They have wooden sidewalks and architecture that dates back to 1880s. Sisters, Oregon, is an excellent stop for any central Oregon road trip. They offer a variety of recreational activities and have many artistic shops. This small town is also located in the Deschutes area. It was named after the three nearby peaks and hosts many festivals, live music and other fun events.

The area is most well-known for its outdoor activities. You will find amazing waterfalls, forests, mountains, and plenty of fun activities. Some of the most popular activities include: skiing at Hoodoo Ski Area and camping at Suttle Lake. You can also ride the McKenzie Pass–Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, which will take you to the Cascades.

Where to Stay in Sisters Country?

Five Pine Lodge in Sisters is a 5-star resort. You can enjoy a spa, waterfall soak tubs, bicycle use, and access to the fitness center (among many other amenities).

Sisters Inn & Suites, which is highly rated and has cozy rooms, offers a budget-friendly alternative.

  • Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park covers over 650 acres. It boasts 300 sunny days per annum and is the ideal place to take your central Oregon road trip to the next level. The park features stunning volcanic peaks that rise out of the ground. This park is a world-famous rock climbing spot. There are many places to climb, some bolted.

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Not into rock climbing? It’s all good! Smith Rock State Park offers caving and golf courses as well as endless hiking and mountain biking trails.

  • Stay near Smith Rock State Park

SCP Redmond Hotel, located in Redmond is a great mid-range hotel. The hotel offers a restaurant, a fitness center, and a lounge.

The Sleep Inn & Suites Redmond is a smaller hotel that offers an indoor pool, hot tub and gym.

  • Sunriver

Sunriver, a popular resort destination, is just south of Bend. It is known for its championship golf tournaments as well as spectacular natural beauty. Golf Digest has named the Crosswater Club as a Top 100 golf course.

Sunriver, even if you aren’t a golfer, is a beautiful place to visit at any time. It is close to volcanic sites and miles of paved roads. The Sunriver Nature Center, Oregon Observatory, and Sunriver Nature Center are also easily accessible.

This latter hosts wildlife and nature events, as well as stargazing. If you are a hiker, you won’t want to miss Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument. It is home to obsidian flows. If you are visiting during the warmer months, I recommend taking a cruise down the Deschutes River.

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Sunriver Resort is the best place to stay in Sunriver. This resort is ideal for couples or families and offers a variety of restaurants and golf courses as well as other top-tier amenities.

  • Lava River Cave

Lava River Cave, which is one of the Newberry Volcanic Monuments that I mentioned above, is the longest obsidian lava flow in the state. Visitors can find information, classes and headlamps at the site, as well self-guided tours.