Want updated information about Bend and Crater Lake National Park? Check out our NEW and much more detailed guides for both: 20+ AMAZING things to do in Bend, Oregon & The BEST things to do at Crater Lake National Park (+ 1 day itinerary)
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, both 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:
- 20+ AMAZING things to do in Bend, Oregon
- The BEST things to do at Crater Lake National Park (+ 1 day itinerary)
- 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
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!
These seven principles include planning ahead and preparing, hiking and camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly (pack out what you pack in!), understanding campfire rules and always fully extinguishing your fires, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.
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!), then 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, then 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
Eugene: 2.5 hours
Cannon Beach: 4.5 hours
Seattle: 6 hours
Both 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 VRBOs and affordable hotels. Here are a handful of suggestions of places to stay!
The Arrow Cottage: 1 Bathroom Studio
Walk to Downtown and Old Mill: 1 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom Apartment
Convenient & Cozy Cottage On Newport: 1 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom Cottage
Historic Belle Millhouse: 2 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom House
Classic Craftsman with Fenced Yard: 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom 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.
Want to find campsites all over the US? Try the Dyrt PRO for FREE for one month!
The Dyrt is the #1 camping app in the US! Sign up for a FREE 30 day trial of their PRO version using our code AplusK!
The Dyrt PRO offers many incredible features to make finding campsites even easier (+ cheaper). Some of our favorite features are:
-Offline maps, so you can find campsites without cell service
-Map layers to find free camping areas (+ cell phone service map layers)
-Discounts from PRO partners and on campground bookings (up to 40%!)
- 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!
Hiking in Bend: Day 1
- Get both breakfast and coffee at The Sparrow Bakery, a cute little bakery with savory and sweet options. We recommend the Ocean Roll, which is croissant dough with sugar, vanilla, and cardamom.
- Spend the rest of both 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, then 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!
Crater Lake National Park: Day 2
- 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 (2.1 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!
Want to get 30% off an AllTrails+ membership? Click this link or use our code aplusk30 (you must redeem this code on the website, not the app)!
We use AllTrails+ on every single hike and it is the most helpful hiking tool out there! Some of the features we love are offline maps (so we can navigate even without cell service), wrong-turn alerts, and its 3D maps feature, so we can get a feel for trails before we hike.
Explore Downtown Bend: Day 3
- 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. We also suggest walking along the Deschutes River Trail!
- 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, then 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, then 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 both 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 both Bend and Crater Lake to plan your trip!