While we love to talk about the many outdoor activities in Bend that newcomers are welcome to, there’s one outdoor pastime we get a lot of questions about: Taking photos! Central Oregon is packed with incredible vistas and opportunities for photos, whether you like taking pictures of landscape, capturing the light in just the right way, or finding the most interesting subject out in nature. If you’re living in Bend now and want to know where to take your camera, these are some of the best photo spots in Bend!
1. Top of Pilot Butte
This is not only an excellent introduction to Bend, but a great place to catch the sunset over the Cascade Mountains, highlighting both the forest and desert aspects of Central Oregon. It’s also a good spot to look for other angles and vistas you can use for future photography plans.
2. Paths Along Old Mill
Old Mill is filled with paths along and around the Deschutes River, and ambitious photographers will be able to find many, many interesting places to capture the surrounding beauty. Whether you like to capture the light on the river, the perfect angle for the Old Mill smokestacks, or a mix of the traditional-style brick buildings and sunset, there are plenty of opportunities here.
3. Drake Park
The towering trees and more placid turns of Drake Park/Mirror Pond offer lots for photographers to love, and the well-kept riverside housing can be an ideal backdrop for all kinds of photo ideas. If you’re wondering what to do in Bend and intend on taking your camera with, Drake Park’s central location makes it a great place to start. It gets an extra nod during autumn, when the trees turn a stunning gold.
4. Dillon Falls
If waterfalls and rapids are what your lens is looking for, Dillon Falls is a great place to get started: It’s very accessible, offers a stunning waterfall, and can easily showcase the greener wildlife of Central Oregon. Sahalie Falls, while a bit more of a trip, is another excellent spot if you prefer mossy waterfall scenery
5. Smith Rock
Your photography adventures aren’t complete until you make at least one trip out to Smith Rock, a gorgeous basalt display that offers a variety of perspectives depending on the weather, angle of approach, and if you’re at the base or on one of the summits. Photographers will love spending time around here!
6. Lava Butte
This more secluded butte is a perfect spot to capture otherworldly landscapes of frozen lava and twisted juniper, an excellent spot for photographers who are looking for something different without needing to travel too far from Bend.
7. Highway 20 Between Bend and Sisters
Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioned this grassy stretch of highway, which offers a famous view of the Three Sisters mountains that both amateur and professional photographers stop by all the time. Catch a beautiful sunset or moonrise over the mountains, and you can be you won’t be alone here.
8. Shevlin Park
This massive park is easily accessible in Bend and presents an excellent opportunity to capture beautiful images of towering trees in summer or winter, depending on what you are looking for. Wait for early morning fog to capture the area’s haunting beauty or grab your snowshoes in winter to find an untouched scene of snowy forest.