Heading to Bend and Crater Lake National Park? Our 3 days in Bend, Oregon and Crater Lake itinerary includes where to stay, what to eat, and the best things to do in Bend and Crater Lake. Ready to explore beautiful Central Oregon? Keep on reading!
After two years of being told we’d love Bend, Oregon and hearing great things about it, we finally got to explore the area over Labor Day Weekend (you can read all about our trip here!).
And everyone was right, we loved it! The scenery is incredible, the food and coffee are great, and the vibe is laid back and fun.
Since the drive from Seattle is pretty long and we couldn’t make it down there too often, we added on a day at Crater Lake National Park. Combining the two was awesome, as they are relatively close to each other and you can easily knock out the Crater Lake highlights in a day.
We had such a great experience in both places that we wanted to create a guide for others who want to combine the two into one trip, or are looking for ideas of things to do in just Bend or Crater Lake.
In this guide we’ll share when to visit, where to stay, what to eat, and the best things to do in Bend or Crater Lake if you only have 3 days!
Looking for more things to do in Oregon? Check out our Oregon guides:
- A Weekend on the Oregon Coast
- A Weekend in Portland
- Check out all of our Washington guides
- Watch all of our videos from the PNW
Leave No Trace Principles
Before embarking on your adventure, please review the Leave No Trace principles to ensure you leave every place better than you found it, so that others can enjoy these beautiful places for many years to come!
- Plan ahead & prepare. Make sure you research and prepare for every adventure so that you know the rules, stay safe, and to minimize resource damage.
- Travel & camp on durable surfaces. Stay on the trail and only camp in designated areas, as well as the required length away from water sources.
- Dispose of waste properly. Whatever you pack in, pack it out! Make sure to carry out your trash, as well as any trash you find. If you have a dog, please do not leave poop bags on the trail. For human waste, use a trowel to dig a hole far from water sources or use a wag bag (sometimes required).
- Leave what you find. Do not take any items from the trail with you, including rocks, plants, or artifacts.
- Minimize campfire impacts. Know the rules of where you can and cannot have campfires and if allowed, use designated fire rings. Use local firewood to prevent bringing any pests or diseases to the area you’re visiting and make sure to fully extinguish your fire.
- Respect wildlife. Keep your distance from wildlife, control your pets on the trail, and never ever feed them! Make sure to keep your food stored properly as well (we like this bear canister).
- Be considerate of other visitors. Be respectful to others on the trail. Hikers going uphill have the right of way on hikes and it’s always courteous to let those quicker than you pass. Avoid playing music out loud, talking loudly, and having your pets bother others.
Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!
When to visit Bend and Crater Lake
While Bend and Crater Lake National Park are both accessible year round, including in the winter (there are tons of winter activities to enjoy!), this guide is catered towards the summer and early fall months (June-September) in Bend and Crater Lake, when hiking is more accessible.
The summertime in Bend is beautiful! Because of its higher altitude, the temperatures are a bit cooler (highs in the 70s-80s), the evenings are cool, and there is plenty of sunshine. If you want to do lots of hiking and spend time outside (without snow!), this is the perfect time to visit!
Getting to Bend and Crater Lake
Bend is located in Central Oregon, with Crater Lake located a little bit more south. The easiest way to get to Bend, if traveling from far away, is to fly into the Redmond Municipal Airport, which is about 25 minutes north of Bend.
However, this airport is pretty small, with only 5 airlines (Allegiant, American, Alaska, Delta, and United) and only non-stop flights to and from Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Phoenix-Mesa, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Seattle. So you may have to have a layover depending on where you’re flying from.
If you fly to Bend, we highly recommend renting a car to get around. While downtown Bend is super walkable, to explore trails nearby and Crater Lake National Park you’ll definitely want a car.
Visiting from other areas of Oregon or Washington? Here are the approximate driving times:
From Portland: 3 hours
From Eugene: 2.5 hours
From Cannon Beach: 4.5 hours
From Seattle: 6 hours
Bend and Crater Lake would make for a great road trip from any of these destinations!
Where to stay in Bend
If you plan to visit both Bend and Crater Lake National Park, we suggest staying in Bend. There will be more options of places to stay, as well as for food and coffee.
But both in and near Bend there are many different lodging options to choose from! We took the cheap route and camped, which was really fun (we saw the Milky Way!), but there are also lots of Airbnbs and affordable hotels. Here are a handful of suggestions of places to stay!
- Option 1: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom condo
- Option 2: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom guest house
- Option 3: A 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom guest house
- Lava Lake Campground–This is where we stayed and the lake at the campground was beautiful! The only downside to this campground was that there was no running water in the bathrooms, so be prepared to not shower. However, the vault toilets were very clean and actually smelled nice!
- Tumalo State Park–This state park has showers and bathrooms, so it’s definitely more comfortable than Lava Lake.
- Oxford Hotel
- Wall Street Suites
- Springhill Suites
- Hampton Inn & Suites
- McMenamins Old St. Francis School
Bend and Crater Lake Itinerary
In this Bend and Crater Lake itinerary we’re sharing all of our favorite things we did during our long weekend in Bend and Crater Lake, from our favorite coffee shops, to hikes, to restaurants. Looking for more ideas? Check out our “if you have extra time” section at the end of this guide!
- Get breakfast and coffee at The Sparrow Bakery, a cute little bakery with savory and sweet options.
- Spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon hiking to No Name Lake. We loved this hike and it’s one of our top things to do in Bend! Make sure to pack a lunch, as it’s not a super short journey.
One very important thing to know is that this hike has two trailheads. If you have a high clearance vehicle that can handle rough roads, go to the trailhead on Road 380, which makes the hike 6 miles.
The other trailhead at Todd Lake makes the hike around 13 miles total, but it’s a fairly easy ~15 miles. This is the trailhead we started from.
For other hike options in Bend, check out our “if you have extra time” section below!
- Enjoy a post-hike coffee or beer at Spoken Moto, a super cool coffee shop + motorcycle shop. The vibes in here are awesome! While you’re there, grab dinner from one of the food trucks, like Scoutpost or Shred Town Food Cart.
- Get to bed early because day 2 will be a big day!
- Head to Crater Lake National Park before sunrise. This sounds torturous, but we promise it’s worth it! The drive is around 1 hour 30 mins from Bend and we recommend packing breakfast to take with you.
- First stop at Crater Lake: sunrise at the top of Watchman Peak! This was our favorite thing we did at the park. The hike to the top is only 0.8 miles (but all uphill) and you get an incredible view of the sunrise over the lake.
- Head towards the visitors center, which is home to a few hikes. We recommend checking out the Discovery Point Trail, which is an easy 4.0 mile walk with lake views the entire time. You don’t have to walk the entire trail to get the beautiful views, so feel free to go as far as you’d like!
- Hike up Garfield Peak next, which is a pretty steep 3.4 miles, but it gives you a great view of the park.
- Enjoy a picnic lunch after your hike over near the visitor center or on the patio of the lodge, which has nice rocking chairs and a view!
- After lunch, head down the Cleetwood Cove Trail (1.8 miles roundtrip), the only way to access the lake, for a swim! The trail is downhill the whole way down, which means the way back up is a good workout. The water is very clear and super cold, but on a hot day it’s refreshing and totally worth it. We recommend spending a couple hours here relaxing.
- If you’re up for more, there are two quick stops we suggest afterwards, the Pinnacles Overlook trail and Plaikni Falls. Both are short and easy and give you different scenery than the lake.
- Lastly, end your day watching the sunset at the Cloudcap Overlook. This is a great spot to have a picnic dinner at too!
- Start off the morning with breakfast at McKay Cottage Restaurant, one of the most popular breakfast spots in Bend!
- After breakfast, grab coffee at Thump Coffee.
- Walk around downtown Bend and explore the shops.
- Go visit one of Bend’s many breweries (if you enjoy beer). Some top ones to check out are Deschutes Brewery Tour (the tours are kid friendly!), Crux Fermentation Project, GoodLife Brewing Company, or 10 Barrel Brewery. If you’re feeling very ambitious, conquer the Bend Ale Trail. The majority of these breweries have food as well and would make for a great lunch spot!
- If it’s summertime, go tubing at the Whitewater Park! This looked so incredibly fun and we were bummed to miss out on it!
- Have dinner at Spork, one of our new favorite restaurants! We recommend the coconut green curry, Thai steak salad, and the spicy fried chicken!
If you have extra time…
There are so many fun things to do in Bend that you could easily spend weeks there! Here’s a list of some extra things to do in Bend if you have more time.
- Chase waterfalls at Tumalo Falls or Paulina Creek Falls
- Hike at Smith Rock State Park. We loved the Misery Ridge and Summit Loop trail, which is 5.5 miles and a 1,778 ft elevation gain.
- Ski or snowboard at Mount Bachelor in the winter
- Summit South Sister, which is the third tallest mountain in Oregon and a difficult hike at 12.2 miles and a 4,898 ft elevation gain.
- Hike Green Lakes Trail, which is 9.1 miles and 1,187 ft elevation gain.
- Explore the Lava River Cave. Make sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight!
Ready to explore Bend & Crater Lake?
Pin this guide full of things to do in Bend and Crater Lake to plan your trip!