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Our tour begins on Yeoman road at Pine Nursery Park. Like the 1980 hit song by Journey, Pine Nursery Park in northeast Bend is— Any Way You Want It! It’s a park that is many things to many people, created, as it was, out of U.S. Forest Service surplus property. An honest to goodness multi-use park, it is fun just seeing what all it has to offer. There’s both a paved and dirt trail circling the park, offering a glimpse of its many features. Go ahead, try something new. Or, if you know what you want, then dive right in. Take a left on NE Purcell Blvd and then bear right onto NE Empire Ave. Pine Nursery Park is one of the largest parks in Bend. It’s considered the sports Mecca of Central Oregon, with some of the facilities being year-round and all-weather. There are well-kept baseball, softball, and soccer fields, making for a great time, be one a spectator or a player. The disc golf course is considered the best in the state as well as one of the best in the nation. Try and backhand a birdie, or even flick an ace among the juniper trees, lava rocks, and sagebrush of this pristine high desert landscape. At 3600 feet in elevation, maybe you’ll surprise yourself on the added distance. There’s a fishing pond, near the playground. Teach your children how to cast for bluegill, bass, and rainbow trout in this small, but fully stocked body of water. There are kid’s fishing events throughout the year. What you’ll hear about the most, with Pine Nursery Park…well…there’s two things, one being the pickleball courts…16 of them as a matter of fact. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, and Pine Nursery Park is considered to have the region’s best courts… good enough to host the annual Pacific Northwest Classic, a sanctioned tournament with a cash purse. The second most talked about aspect of Pine Nursery Park is its dog park. Tucked away in the northeast corner of the 159-acre Pine Nursery Park is the Pine Nursery Dog Park. Many visitors to Pine Nursery Dog Park say it’s the best doggie park in the city of Bend, paws down. Others go so far as to call it the best park of its kind in the world. What dog owners love the most are the trails and open field, where four-legged friends can run free. There are a couple of large, enclosed dog walking areas, separated for large or small dogs who love the freedom to run and play in Central Oregon’s great outdoors. Head right on O.B Riley Road as we approach the second destination on our tour.
63367 O. B. Riley Rd, Bend, OR 97701, USA
Visitors to Riley Ranch Nature Reserve love the amazing river views, and scenic mountain peaks. Locals consider it an outdoor adventure area right in their own backyard. Opened in 2017, visitors also enjoy the fact that it’s dog-free and bike-free. With stooped and twisted juniper trees and wide-open vistas Riley Ranch Nature Reserve sits along the northwest corner of Bend. It’s 184 acres in size, 35 of which consists of canyon floor alongside the Deschutes River. Above this canyon there’s over a mile and a half of soft trail, and another 1.25 miles of rugged trail along The Canyon Loop. Perhaps best of all, these trails connect with those of Tumalo State Park and its year-round hiking, swimming, fishing, picnicking, and camping opportunities. Parts of Riley Ranch Nature Reserve appear untouched. Though rocky in many places, with imposing cliffs, and full of distinctive lava flows, the Reserve also contains open meadows. The park is host to many native plant species, migratory birds, and wildlife. Once known as Gopher Gulch, much of the Reserve was irrigated agricultural field. Some of this equipment can still be seen. Today these fields are being restored to its original, perennial bunchgrass and wheatgrass. There are also traces of collapsed cabins, found after a short but craggy descent to the bottom of the canyon and the ponderosa pine that line the riverbank. The reserve was named after O.B. Riley, a lumber mill worker and early homesteader in Central Oregon, who owned some of the land that became the reserve now bearing his name. On the Juniper Loop trail, one walks through sagebrush, alongside an ancient lava flow, before coming to an overlook of the river canyon below as well as the stately and sophisticated homes of the upscale Awbrey Butte neighborhood. Continuing along the trail, past another volcanic outcropping, one arrives at a short trail leading to Sage Flat Overlook where there’s an interpretive sign summarizing the restoration efforts of Riley Ranch Nature Reserve. Yet another spur trail takes you to the Canyon Overlook, where signs explain how the Deschutes River had changed its course when dammed by lava flows 75,000 years ago. If it’s a sunny day, as it may well be given the average of 300 days of sunshine each year in Bend, you’ll be happy to discover that the viewing platform is shaded by ponderosa pines. Be sure to snap a photo of the gray squirrels and chipmunks as they scurry beneath the trees. Continue on O.B Riley Road as we arrive at Tumalo State Park.
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Even in a state known for the sheer number and outright quality of its state parks, Tumalo is a standout. Among Oregon’s least visited state parks owing to the relative remoteness of the city of Bend, visitors say it makes for a memorable experience for all the right reasons. Among these right reasons is the generous size and added privacy of its tent and RV campsites. Campers also love the spotless restrooms and showers that are well maintained by friendly and helpful park officials, as well as the campsites themselves, that are carefully raked and cleaned after each use. Take a left on Johnson road as we head south-east through the park. Additional activities, including hiking trails along the Deschutes River that, depending upon the time of year, can be busy with swimmers, rafters, paddle boarders, trout fishermen, and ever-present inner tube enthusiasts. At five dollars a day to park one’s car, locals and out of towners find Tumalo State Park a tremendous value. And it’s only four miles north of Bend! The original land for this park was a gift of 115 acres from Deschutes County in 1954. Through the years other tracts were purchased and the county gave additional acreage to the state park. A source of some confusion— famed 97-foot tall Tumalo Falls does not lie within the boundaries of Tumalo State Park, but rather twenty miles southwest. As you likely guessed, the name Tumalo, is of Native American origin, in this case from the Klamath language and meaning either "wild plum," or "ground fog." Both are appropriate given the abundance of the former and frequent occurrence of the latter in this area of the high desert. In March 2022, Tumalo State Park was featured in The Best Camping in Oregon, From Crater Lake to the Oregon Dunes, by Conde Nast, the luxury and lifestyle travel magazine. As one of eight locations highlighted, Tumalo is deemed by Conde Nast as offering “camping sites that do not disappoint.” According to the magazine, Tumalo State Park “puts you right in the middle of Central Oregon’s action.” Its proximity to Bend allows one to relax after a long day in the sun in one of Bend’s many craft breweries. The magazine suggests driving a bit further for the region’s most popular landmarks such as Smith Rock, famous for its legendary rock climbing and riverside hiking trails. Continue on Johnson Road as it becomes NW Shevlin Park road.
63198 Johnson Rd, Bend, OR 97701, USA
Coming in at nearly 1000 acres, beloved Shevlin Park is far and away the largest park in Bend. As a four-mile-long preserve surrounding the 20-mile long Tumalo Creek, the park was donated to the community in 1920. The canyon, with its aspen, old-growth ponderosa pine forest and sage, is popular with hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers. The waters feeding into Tumalo Creek originate on the slopes of Broken Top Mountain, a glacially eroded stratovolcano, and Tumalo Mountain, a 7,779 feet high shield volcano. The creek carves its way through a picturesque valley and creates a small canyon, where it then converges with the Deschutes River. It is home to several species of trout and serves as the primary drinking water source for the city of Bend. Shevlin Park was donated by the Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Company in honor of its president, Thomas Leonard Shevlin, who had died in 1915 at age of 32. Shevlin was the son of Thomas Henry Shevlin of Minneapolis, Minnesota, a millionaire lumber baron whose estate the younger Shevlin and his two sisters inherited. Thomas Leonard was known for his flashy dress and fancy cars, but also as a star athlete. The firm was one of two large, Minnesota-based lumber companies in Bend, operating until the early 1950s. Shevlin Park is popular year-round because of its natural beauty, easy access, and wide variety of activities. The park is basically split into two parts, with one section containing an event space, together with a trail alongside Tumalo Creek. The Freemont Meadows section is cherished for its six-mile-long Loop Trail that follows the rim of a canyon. The trails and park itself are especially stunning in October, with the changing colors. Because of Shevlin Park’s ideal location it's easy to forget that you're still in the city of Bend. In the summertime, locals say: bring the kids, bring a picnic. In the winter it’s: bring your skis, bring your snowshoes. Because Shevlin sits at a lower elevation than the Bend region’s designated Sno- Parks, it has a shorter snow season than the rest of the Cascades. Yet, winter fun abounds as there are trails branching out from the park’s main road to Tumalo creek, where one can stop and marvel over the creek as it bubbles through snow and ice. More advanced skiers can turn right and head uphill to follow mountain bike trails, adding length and more technical difficulty to their experience. Bear right as we loop through towards Discovery Park.
1664 Northwest Mount Washington Drive, Bend, OR 97701, USA
It is said that deciding what to do on any given day in Bend is almost a chore, as the city and the Central Oregon region offer so very many activities that it’s sometimes difficult to decide. For something within the city of Bend, consider Discovery Park, a narrow, north-south recreation area abutting NW Discovery Park Drive in the neatly planned Northwest Crossing neighborhood. Northwest Crossing ranks among the best and most desirable neighborhoods in Oregon’s fifth largest metropolitan area. It offers fine-dining choices, like modern Mexican, a family-owned American restaurant, and a communal market hall that are today so popular around the globe. One can walk off that lunch or dinner on Discovery Park’s system of trails. On Saturdays, wander over from Discovery Park to a weekly farmers market, with local vendors offering everything from fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, cheeses, breads, pastries, fresh pasta, pickled vegetables, to cut flowers, potted plants, soaps, jewelry, and crafts. The Bend Park and Recreation Division has expanded the Outback Trail, which passes through undeveloped land west of Discovery Park. The Outback Trail provides access to more than 22 miles of trails within nearby Shevlin Park. Hikers and bikers are asked to stay on the trail, keep all dogs on a leash, and be on the lookout for heavy equipment where construction might still be ongoing. Turn right on NW Crossing Drive followed by a left on Skyliners road as we make our way into central Bend. Outback Trail can be accessed directly from Discovery Park and features the “Women of Discovery” mural in an undercrossing beneath the Skyline Ranch Road bridge. It was painted by local stencil artist Douglas Robertson. Its intricately cut stencils, spray paint technique and playful colors will be treasured for years to come. If one takes their time, you may even learn something about notable women throughout history. Having opened in 2015, Discovery Park is known as a delightful place to play. A three-acre pond is the centerpiece of the park. There are approximately 12 acres of developed park and about 25 acres of open space within the park. Amenities include nature scenes, walking trails, a fenced off-leash dog park, restrooms, picnicking areas, and a shelter.
1504 NW Galveston Ave, Bend, OR 97701, USA
On a map, Drake Park wraps around the northern curve of a neighborhood bearing the same name as a green buffer between it and the azure calm of Mirror Pond. Drake Park is especially enchanting and beautiful in the fall season when it explodes with color. Both the park and neighborhood are named after the founder of Bend, Alexander Drake, who laid-out the neighborhood in 1910, at the beginning of a 10-year population boom that would see Bend grow by over 900 percent. Mirror Pond, in addition to generating electricity, is a popular spot in downtown Bend for locals and visitors to enjoy. Residents say it is one of their favorite places to Zen. As part of the Deschutes River, the meandering, sparkling waters of Mirror Pond attracts a variety of waterfowl including Canada geese and ducks. If you’re fortunate, a pair of graceful swans from England can be seen floating upon Mirror Pond. Well-preserved single- family homes define the Drake Park Neighborhood. It’s where the leading citizens of the community lived, many of whom logged the vast ponderosa forests that sustained the town for much of its history. Turn right on NW Columbia street as we ride along the banks of the Deschutes River. Another appealing element regarding modern day Drake Park as well as the neighborhood is the walkability to the restaurants, nightlife, and shopping of town center– “The heart and pulse of Central Oregon,” as goes the motto of the Downtown Business Association. This popular community gathering place hosts many events throughout the spring, summer, and fall, including the district’s Old Fashioned July 4th Celebration. On Thursdays throughout July and August, Drake Park hosts free rock, bluegrass, country, and symphonic concerts.
317 NW Columbia St, Bend, OR 97701, USA
There’s an interesting nautical component to Columbia Park. Along with the Columbia River, into which flows the Deschutes River, Columbia Park is named after a ship called the Columbia Rediviva that, in the late 1700s, became the first American vessel to circumnavigate the world. In honor of the ship, there’s a theme-play replica in Columbia Park that is a favorite of the kids. Paying no attention to the history behind the playground equipment upon which they climb, slide, and swing, as children are inclined to do, the park is known locally as Pirate Ship Park. For adults, whether with children in tow or not, the park is simply a great place to spend some time. There are picnic tables and even a horseshoe pit. Located alongside the left bank of the Deschutes River, there’s a pedestrian bridge connecting with the other side. This allows for easy access to Drake Park, and its reputation as a community gathering place. With its waterfront location, Columbia Park, of course, is a great place to spread out a blanket on the sprawling grass and enjoy the river as it flows northward on its way, eventually, some 300 miles to the Pacific Ocean off Fort Stevens State Park, Clatsop County, in far northwest Oregon. Even adults, especially those young at heart, will enjoy the massive slide that takes one down to the lower level of the park. This lower section also includes a trail along the river and leading one to the pedestrian bridge over to the Drake Park Neighborhood. A left on SW Simpson followed by a right on SW Colorado will take us to our next destination.
925 SW Emkay Dr, Bend, OR 97702, USA
As the name implies, Riverbend Park sits alongside the Deschutes River. Just as agreeable is its proximity to the Old Mill District, the motto of which is— Bend happens here. That’s true year around, be it the fall season when Old Mill District hosts its Halloween celebrations, or every December when it transforms into a holiday wonderland, with lights, decorations, and carolers. Locals say it’s a good way to get into the holiday spirit before diving into the nearby shopping. Turn left on SW Columbia as we approach Riverbend Park and cross the Deschutes River. Riverbend Park is an especially popular summer destination, with year-round river access to the Deschutes. When’s the last time you floated down a river, or launched a kayak? Well, perhaps not that long ago, but even if you’re merely passing through town, Riverbend Park is a great place to take a break. Enter the water here, exit the water at Drake Park. There’s a convenient shuttle to bring you back. After crossing the bridge turn left onto SW Bond street and continue around the circle onto Brookswood Blvd. If the aquatic scene is not for you, there’s plenty of opportunity for biking, skateboarding, inline skating, or pushing a stroller. Any of these will allow you to see why Bend is such a great place to visit or live. During Bend’s delightful summers these trails are popular but not especially crowded. At 13 acres, Riverbend Park has an extensive paved and gravel trail system from which local wildlife can be observed. For our domesticated animal friends, locals feel fortunate that Bend has such a forward-thinking parks department. In a city that’s already well-endowed with dog parks, Riverbend Park is considered top-of-the-line. Fully fenced, and convenient to get to, the dog park section is quite large, with a separate area for small dogs. Park Department volunteers deserve applause for keeping it clean. Best of all, however, is that dogs have their very own water park, in a sense, with an off-leash opportunity for them to jump into and cool off in the Deschutes River. Take a left on Murphy road as we approach our next point of interest.
61101 Deer Valley Dr, Bend, OR 97702, USA
River Rim Park is where one goes to enjoy a little break from the indoors, take a relaxing stroll to appreciate the river and perhaps catch sight of deer, antelope, beaver, mink, otter, and over 100 species of birds. It’s an unimproved park that also serves as the jumping off point for kayakers plying the Deschutes River, before progressing downriver and an impending waterfall. The park has three discernable geologic terraces leading down to the water's edge. Though one of the smaller city parks, the pines and open spaces of River Rim Park is known as a great place to visit. Located in the family friendly Southwest Neighborhood of Bend, it’s quite likely you will make new friends here as well. Southwest Bend is a safe and quiet residential area with, in addition to Rim River, several parks scattered about. Its sidewalks trails are perfect for a relaxing stroll, or an invigorating run. They’re popular with dog walkers and cyclists alike. Abutting Southwest Neighborhood is the prestigious Southern Crossing neighborhood of Bend, home to the Old Mill District, with its live concerts, stores, upscale riverside restaurants housed in refurbished lumber mills. Also within walking distance of River Rim Park is the Cinder Cone Natural Area. Cinder cones abound in the Cascades, as they are steep, conical hills of volcanic material. The Cinder Cone Natural Area stretches across one half of this cone, smack dab in the city of Bend, while the other half is under private ownership. The property sits well above the river and is yet another great spot from which to take in the beauty of Central Oregon. After watching the sun go down from Rim River Park, it’s an easy stroll to the arts and entertainment offerings of Bend. Though a small city, Bend is gaining in importance in the Pacific Northwest as a center for the arts. Music venues like Hayden Homes Amphitheater, the Domino Room and the Volcanic Theater Pub attract local talent as well as world renowned musicians. Loop around the circle onto SE 15th street as we make our way north through Bend.
20803 Tamar Ln, Bend, OR 97702, USA
Grab your climbing shoes. There’s now bouldering in Bend….the form of free climbing that is performed on small rock formations or artificial climbing walls, like you see in REI stores, and even in the Olympics… where it’s known as sport climbing. Alpenglow Community Park is a new, still developing recreation area in the Old Farm neighborhood of southeast Bend…a metropolitan region that’s already loaded with outdoor parks. Its three climbing walls are the first within the Bend park system. They include natural routes as well as set routes with handholds and accessible routes with rope assist climbing for adaptive climbers and climbers with disabilities. The sport was originally a method of training for mountain climbers to practice specific moves at a safe distance from the ground. It also helped build stamina and increase finger strength. Today, it’s mostly known for being fun, at least for those of us without a fear of heights. The Old Farm neighborhood is one of the fastest growing areas in the Bend metropolitan area. At 37-acres, Alpenglow Park will serve as a hub for recreation activities, community gatherings, as well as opportunities to enjoy nature in this growing neighborhood. It’s less of a wide-open-spaces kind of park, though it does have an open lawn area, where the bouldering facility is found. It’s also the place to go for picnics, events, children’s playground, and an off-leash area for dogs. Best of all, perhaps, is a sprayground for those days when the midday sun is in full force. How’s that for summer thrills? Don’t you feel chill just thinking about it? Of course, Alpenglow Park offers trails through the juniper and ponderosa pine, as well as jaw dropping views of the Cascades. With less than eight percent of the park being lawn area, Alpenglow Park intentionally showcases the high desert landscape and mature stands of ponderosa pine and juniper trees.
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What’s a cooler location from which to launch Fourth of July municipal fireworks than from atop a volcano? Independence Day in Bend is like no other. You can begin the day with live music, great food, kid’s games, and conclude with colorful pyrotechnics from Pilot Butte… a cinder cone rising some 500 feet above the Deschutes River valley. The geology of Central Oregon is entirely volcanic. The landscape was formed through a series of multiple volcanic eruptions over the eons. On a map, the roads and trails leading up to Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park, and Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint appear like a spiral staircase. Bend and Portland are two Oregon cities with volcanoes within their boundaries. Care to guess the other U.S. cities with volcanoes? One of them is easy— Diamond Head in Honolulu. The others are less obvious—Jackson, Mississippi, Prescott Valley, Arizona, and Austin, Texas. Just under 115 acres in size, Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint was presented as a gift to the State of Oregon in 1928. Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park was created to bring amenities such as restroom facilities and parking lots to the state park. Pilot Butte is a popular hiking destination, with two trails leading to the summit. It was named in 1851 by the leader of the first party of European settlers to camp on what later became the city of Bend. From the top of Pilot Butte, the entire city of Bend is spread out below, and several major Cascade peaks can be seen in the distance. Springtime in Central Oregon means showy wildflower blooms and blossoms that explode across the high desert and neighborhoods of Bend. Flowers such as native sand lilies bust in town first and work their way up the lower flanks of Pilot Butte. Well, folks, I hope you’ve had a great time getting to know the sights, sounds and happenings of the wondrous parks in and around Bend, Oregon. If what you’ve seen today has inspired you to begin your search for a home in this area, make sure to contact Paul Frazier, our local expert Realtor, at (541) 797-9966 or by email at bendforsale.com. Thank you so much for taking this UCPlaces tour – have a great day!