Bend, OR was another highly anticipated trip for us. While we lived in the Fort Collins, CO area, Bend OR was compared to us as a similar city that we would enjoy since we like Fort Collins so much. We planned this weekend around a 3 day weekend in which we took a Friday off. We drove up to Bend where we were staying at Tumalo Campground on Thursday night after work so we could get an early start on Friday. We chose Tumalo Campground because it’s affordable, they took reservations, and it was fairly centrally located to Bend and everything we wanted to do. It’s a campground with flush toilets and running water, so don’t stay here if you’re looking to be in the middle of the woods.
NIGHT 1 06.01.17
Thursday 06.01.2016: We decided to start things out right and head to 10 Barrel Brewing for dinner and beer. The vibe was perfect and we sat out on the patio near the huge fire pit in the middle.
DAY 1 06.02.2017
This day was planned around heading Southwest of the campground for some waterfalls and Cascade Lakes. Here were the plans:
(On the way back →), Lava Island Falls
10 Barrel Brewing
Tumalo Falls is a very special waterfall is my own #1 ranked waterfall that we saw in our time in Oregon because of the view that words cannot describe. It’s the kind of picture you would see once you put together that jigsaw puzzle. There is a fairly small parking area at the falls with many trails around. There are probably other places to park that would allow you to hike to where the falls are but by arriving early, we were able to get a spot without any problem. The best viewpoint of the waterfall is seen from an extremely short walk from the parking area. There is a short hike (about .5mi RT) to the top of the falls (but the view is from the bottom).
View From The Top
Todd Lake & Sparks Lake: We did not get to these, partially due to poor planning on my part! Due to there being a ton of snow, the road stops at the Mt. Bachelor ski area (at least in early June) and the lakes are only accessible via snowmobile, cross-country skiing, and I suppose snowshoeing. Since we sold our snowshoes last year and had no idea we were going to be in snow country, we didn’t make it. There was an area you could park if you did plan to do these things (and allowed free overnight parking). I got out of the car and checked out the signs and I really wasn’t sure if hiking without snow gear was even allowed so we decided to pass on this. Hopefully my poor planning will help you better prepare for your trip to the Cascade Lakes.
Lava Island Falls was an area with some trails along the Deschutes River with hiking trails that follow the river. The waterfall was not nearly as special as some others (or we didn't find it), however, the whole area makes you feel about as naturey as can be. There is a parking area with plenty of parking. There are lots of parking areas with access to the same trails within the area.
Dillon Falls is another area further along the Deschutes River that the same trail system from Lava Island Falls would get you here [3.2 mi one way from Lava Island Falls]. The waterfall here is small but kind of unique. One side of it is basically regular river flow where a rocky portion on the trail side causes a waterfall. There is a parking area here as well so don’t feel you have to hike from Lava Island.
Benham Falls continues along the same trail system as the two above and is a 6.7 mile hike [one way] from Lava Island and 3.6 mi hike [one way] from Dillon Falls. Again, there is a parking area here as well. This is a very cool waterfall and I was really disappointed in my photography skills on this one. I tried but I really couldn’t get a photo that captured what this waterfall really looks like. There’s really no drop but it’s a steady downslope along the river that goes through many rocks, making it appear like it’s weaving through.
Humm Kombucha: We love Kombucha and this was the first Kombucha brewery we had ever been to. We had bought Humm before in stores and it was great to drink the stuff fresh from the source. It was just like being at a [beer] brewery, except kids can order at the bar…and you aren’t drinking beer. Follow tthe local company on Instagram: @hummkombucha
Deschutes Brewery: In Portland, we went to the Public House restaurant so this time we decided to go to just the taproom for a beer. The best part of this place is that you get free beer! During tasting room hours, the bar is among their store and they give you 4 free tasters, one at a time. Instagram: @deschutesbeer #delicious
Bonta Gelato: This was the highest rated ‘ice cream’ place in Bend according to Google Maps and since I love ice cream, we ended up coming here. We got lucky that there was no line and the scoop master told us they have no limit to number of samples you can get. After 3 samples, I decided to get a scoop of each of some chocolaty delights. Instagram: @bontagelatobend
DAY 2 06.03.2017
The plans below were originally supposed to be spaced out over Saturday and Sunday but we had a little snafu. We had originally planned to camp Thurs and Friday nights at Tumalo CG as mentioned above and Saturday night at Paulina Lake CG (about an hour South of Tumalo CG). Two weeks before the trip, we got an email informing us the Paulina Lake CG was going to be closed due to excessive snow and we were unable to find any other accommodations. With that said, many things in the area were inaccessible due to snow as well so we were able to combine Saturday and Sundays plans into one day and then head home late Saturday.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Newberry National Volcanic Monument: We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to find out some more info about what the best things to do actually were. We knew we wanted to hike the Lava River Cave but didn’t really know what else to do here. We learned that the best and most things to do here were in the Paulina Lake area, which was mostly closed off due to snow. Because of this, the only thing we ended up doing here was the Lava River Cave. There were definitely some amazing pictures at the Visitor’s Center and we’d love to come back. This area must be best suited for plans during July and August, I would imagine.
Lava River Cave: COME EARLY. There is a decent sized parking area, however, even arriving at 10am was almost too late for us. The guy at the entrance told us the lot was full and it would be better if we came back late in the afternoon or very early the next morning, however, he did let us go into the lot and look for parking anyway. He was right and the lot was full. We waited it out for a few minutes and got extremely lucky that someone was leaving and we got the spot. Okay, next thing before you head into the cave, it is required you participate in a 10 minute lecture about the history of the cave for preparation. This is mandatory. Finally, you head to the entrance of the cave and they try to rent you flashlights. If you didn’t bring your own, you will need to rent one because it’s a pitch black cave. We had our own headlamps and flashlights, which are fine. The man at the front will tell you your cell phone flashlight is not good enough (and it probably isn’t) but if you just want to use that and don’t want to rent one, tell him you have a good flashlight and not just your phone cause he was very pushy! Onto the cave – the cave was cool (literally – it’s like 40 deg F in there) so bring some layers! But it was cool (neat) as well. You’re really hiking this in the dark so you need to be careful with each step. It’s about a mile long but takes a while because of traffic and the darkness. It doesn’t really get better the more you go, so if you don’t make it to the end, you’re not missing too much. It was definitely worth it and a unique experience.
Pringle Falls: I’m not really sure what this is or how I even found out about it but we couldn’t find it. I remember looking but can’t remember exactly where we looked. In typing up this post, I searched for more info online and can’t find much about its access. We did find the Pringle Falls CG so if you want to put more effort into finding it, then maybe start there? If you find it, email me at email@example.com.
Lava River Cave
Salt Creek Falls
Salt Creek Falls and the next couple of things on the list are all accessible from the same parking area. Salt Creek Falls was first and the easiest to access. Right from the parking area, there is a nice view from the top but the best view is down the .6mi trail toward the bottom. When we went, the trail was closed about halfway from the bottom of the waterfall but that was just fine because the stopping point left you with a perfect view of the waterfall.
Diamond Creek Falls was not on the original plans but we were very confused about how to find Too Much Bear Lake. According to the trail map, it looked like it may have been accessible along the Diamond Creek Falls trail (it is). We got to Too Much Bear Lake but Diamond Creek Falls was way more exciting anyway. It was awesome and made me feel like I fell into a photographers paradise. I am very pleased with the outcome of my photo from this spot but I definitely wish I had about 5 more years of experience when I was there and I’m sure it would have been even better. Once I found the composition I liked, I think I changed my camera settings more of that scene than any other. The way the sun was shining on the waterfall with the shadows casting on the river in front of it was absolutely perfect. It was a hot day but the shade hit this area perfectly and there was a nice chill. In fact, there was still a lot of snow on the ground when we were there. If you come to this parking area, I would definitely recommend the Diamond Creek Falls hike. My photo posted below is with the waterfall in the background (you can get much closer to it when you’re there).
Diamond Creek Falls
That was kind of a phenomenal surprise to end the weekend, especially knowing after our long drive back to Reedsport we would be able to shower and then sleep in our own bed! We had about a 2.5 hour drive home after that. We stopped for dinner at the Chipotle on the University of Oregon campus for dinner on the way home. Despite many of the things on the list not being able to be completed, it was an awesome first experience in Bend and we have a better idea of what we’d like to do if we get the chance to return.
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