Sunriver is home to gorgeous nature and ample activities, and summertime is the best time to enjoy them. But these benefits aren’t limited to Sunriver. Many activities and scenic sites are waiting to be explored outside of town.
Grab your camera and fuel up your car, as we head out to explore the best things to see and do outside of Sunriver!
Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park is just a 45-minute drive from Sunriver and is known for its deep river canyons and world-class rock climbing, but the park has so much more to offer. With miles of hiking and biking trails and fishing in the Crooked River, there’s something for everyone at Smith Rock.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the viewpoint from Monkey Face. It’s a sight to behold.
The Crooked River National Grassland
Located about an hour north of Sunriver, The Crooked River National Grasslands provides a unique look at the high desert. In addition to its scenic beauty, it is a great place to take in the views and hike, fish, hunt, boat, rock climb, and operate an off-highway vehicle.
The Lava Lands Visitor Center
Just a short 8-minute drive out of town in Deschutes National Forest, The Lava Lands Visitor Center is a great place to learn about the area’s volcanic history. Many trails in the area go through lava flows, and you can even see a lava tube! The visitor center also has a great view of the surrounding area, including Mount Bachelor.
Forty-five minutes northwest of Sunriver Tumalo Falls is a spectacular waterfall and a popular attraction. The hike is easy for all levels, bringing you to and from the waterfall relatively quickly from the parking lot. Most children can complete the walk easily.
The falls usually draw large crowds on weekends and during the busy tourist season, but it’s still worth seeing firsthand.
The High Desert Museum
A short, 9-minute drive out of town takes you to the High Desert Museum, a must-visit for anyone interested in the history and culture of the high desert region. The museum has over 100,000 square feet of exhibit space with information on the area’s Native Americans, pioneers, and wildlife. It also features a variety of educational programs.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Just 25 minutes east of Sunriver is Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Here, you can learn from the park service how central Oregon’s landscape was formed through volcanoes. You can also explore the area’s unique geography formed from the surrounding volcanic activity by traveling down Lava Cast Forest Trail.
The entire trail is paved, but even though a third of the trail and the monument building are highly accessible, the last two-thirds of the trail is steep and bumpy and not recommended for those using wheelchairs.
Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint
Located in Bend, just 31 minutes north of Sunriver, Pilot Butte is a cinder cone volcano that offers stunning views of the surrounding area. The state scenic viewpoint has a paved walking path to the top, making it easy and accessible for all.
Fort Rock State Natural Area
Just one hour southeast of Sunriver sits Fort Rock, a volcanic rock formation that was once the site of a Native American settlement. It is a mesmerizing area that is a bit like Uluru, also known as Red Rock, in Australia, jutting out from the ground in an otherwise flat landscape.
The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
You can connect to this 66-mile drive by traveling just 44 minutes from Sunriver. It is one of the most beautiful drives in Oregon. It takes you through some of the state’s most stunning scenery, giving you gorgeous mountain views of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and South Sister. Plus, there are plenty of places to stop to take in the views, hike, fish, or just enjoy the quiet of nature.
Hiking, Kayaking, or Swimming at Fall River
Fall River connects with Deschutes River just 20 minutes southwest of Sunriver. It runs through rolling pine forests and lupine meadows. It is kept as a quality water source for the Deschutes River and as a safe habitat for many species, including brown trout. As a result, the river is reserved for fly fishing.
Crater Lake National Park
There are many jaw-dropping areas of Oregon around 2 hours outside of Sunriver, including The Painted Hills and John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Though the distance can be challenging for day tripping, Crater Lake National Park is one spot worth the drive. The lake is one of Oregon’s most popular tourist destinations and for good reasons. The lake itself is gorgeous, and the surrounding area is full of hiking trails, waterfalls, and wildlife. It is a truly magical area.
Lakes, Lakes, and More Lakes
The surrounding lakes offer gorgeous scenery and activities in and around the lakes for the whole family. Plus, many are under 40 minutes away. Popular options are Elk Lake, Cultus Lake, Cascade Lakes, and North & South Twin Lakes. If you travel as far as 1 1/2 hours from Sunriver, you can also see East Lake and Paulina Lake.
Sunriver Sits Center Stage to Oregon’s Beauty
With so much to explore inside and outside Sunriver, your next trip to the area will be one to remember. If you need a place to stay, Sunriver puts you in the center of the action.Cascara Vacation Rentals is here to help. Click here to tour our list of vacation homes right here in beautiful Sunriver.