Want to visit Tumalo Falls in Bend, Oregon? In this guide we’re sharing everything you need to know, regardless of the season!
Just a quick drive away from the incredible outdoor town of Bend, Oregon lies one of the most picture perfect waterfalls we have ever seen…Tumalo Falls. Visiting this waterfall had been on our Bend bucket list for years, so on our most recent visit in April 2022, we made sure to finally make it happen.
Watch us spend 4 days exploring Bend, Oregon in the spring, including visiting Tumalo Falls!
And it did not disappoint! This single drop waterfall is magical as it rushes over the side of a rockface. Between its beauty, proximity to town, and accessibility for most ages, it is a MUST do in Bend, Oregon in our opinion!
However, depending on the month you visit, your experience getting to Tumalo Falls may vary. And in this guide we’re sharing how to get to the falls in any season, plus other helpful tips to visit, such as permits, parking, and more!
Looking for more things to do in Oregon? Check out these guides & videos:
- 20+ AMAZING things to do in Bend, Oregon
- A weekend in Portland itinerary
- The best things to do in Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast!
- Hiking the Misery Ridge Trail at Smith Rock State Park (coming soon!)
- Watch our Oregon vlogs
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!
About Tumalo Falls
Tumalo Falls, pronounced TUM-ah-low (like TUMS, the medicine), is located just a half hour west of Bend, Oregon, making it a very convenient stop on any Bend adventure. The waterfall is fed by Tumalo Creek, which not only is a beautiful creek to admire, but is also a major water source for the area. It provides irrigation needs to nearby farms and one of its tributaries, Bridge Creek, provides the drinking water to the city of Bend.
While Tumalo Creek has other waterfalls, Tumalo Falls is the most impressive, at 97 feet tall. It looks massive both up close and afar!
And one of the best things about this waterfall is that it does not require much work to get to, so anyone can enjoy it. Depending on when you visit, you may only have a short walk from the parking lot to view the falls or a 5 mile flat walk. We will cover all of the details of how to get to the falls below!
Note: You may notice there are a handful of places near Bend with the name Tumalo. Tumalo is a Klamath word meaning either “wild plum” or “cold water,” depending on the translation. Tumalo Falls is located on its own, not in Tumalo State Park, so do not arrive there thinking you’ll find the falls!
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 Tumalo Falls
Tumalo Falls is a great year-round destination in Bend! In the winter and spring the falls are surrounded by snow and icicles and unlike some waterfalls which get weak in the summer, Tumalo Falls still roars during the warmer months.
One very important thing to know though is that in the winter and spring, the road to the falls viewpoint is closed, so it requires a bit more work to get to it. The dates of when the road is closed vary, but it’s usually closed between October to sometime in May. You can see the current status here and we’ll be sharing what to do if you visit when the road is closed below!
For reference, we visited Tumalo Falls in April 2022, right after some snow hit the area. So our photos and experience is based on that, but we do have a good grasp of how to visit in the summer as well!
Important logistics for visiting Tumalo Falls
Before sharing the variety of ways you can actually get to Tumalo Falls, here are some important things to know before visiting the falls.
Fee to visit
When the road is open in the summer, there is a $5 fee to visit Tumalo Falls that can be paid before the trailhead at a self-use pay station that does accept credit cards (covered in trash bags in the photo above), which is super nice! You can also get your day pass in advance if you’d like.
However, if you have the Northwest Forest Pass ($30/year) or the America the Beautiful Pass ($80/year), you’re covered and will not need to pay the fee.
In the winter, we did not see any signage stating we needed to pay or use our pass where we parked. However, if you have a Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass, it may be a good idea to display just in case!
If visiting in the summer, there is a parking lot right by the overlooks to Tumalo Falls. When we visited, it was pretty snow covered, so it was hard to truly see how large it was, but it didn’t seem that big. And based on how popular this spot is, we can imagine it fills up easily! Note: There is a 27 foot limit for vehicles in this parking lot, just fyi!
In the winter and early spring, parking is a bit different. You can either park right where the road is closed (which is what we did), but please do not park in front of the gate. You can also park at the Skyliner Sno-Park (no sno-park permit needed), depending on how you want to get to the falls.
Regardless of where you park, PLEASE only park where it is allowed. We have heard from locals that people will block the road that they need to use to get to their homes.
There are multiple pit toilets at the main parking area for Tumalo Falls. These were even open during our visit in April and had toilet paper.
Dogs are allowed at Tumalo Falls, but are not allowed in the Bend Watershed, which is just past the falls. If bringing your dog, please ensure you have them leashed and under control, as this is a very popular area and not everyone or every dog wants your dog running up to them.
What to bring
Although Tumalo Falls can be a very short experience, if just walking from the parking area, we still recommend coming prepared! Make sure to carry the 10 essentials on you when doing any hike, as sometimes the easiest activities can cause injuries (like that time I fell on an easy trail at Mammoth Cave and sliced my hand open).
To see everything else we take hiking, check out our hiking gear. One specific recommendation we have for Tumalo Falls is to bring snowshoes or microspikes, if visiting in the winter. We were fine in just hiking boots, but earlier in the winter season you may need something more than that.
Since Tumalo Falls is close to Bend, it can get very busy (especially on weekends and in the summer). Try to get there first thing to ensure you can snag parking!
Visiting Tumalo Falls in the Summer or Fall
Tumalo Falls is easiest to visit in the summer or early fall, when the road is open. But just because the road is open, doesn’t mean that it’s your only option! Below are the two ways you can visit the falls in the May-October timeframe.
Option #1: Drive
Driving to the falls is quick and easy! Once turning onto Tumalo Falls Road from Skyliners Road you’ll only have about 2.5 miles until the parking area. While we have not driven this road (we have only walked it in the snow), the road is unpaved for the last stretch to the falls, but should be doable in any vehicle.
Option #2: Hike the trail
Miles (roundtrip): 6.5
Elevation gain: 583 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions
If the parking is full or you’d rather get some extra exercise, you can hike to the falls! You will start at the Skyliner Sno-Park, which has parking for maybe 10-15 vehicles and hike over 3 miles each way through the forest and creek until you reach the main parking area and the overlooks for Tumalo Falls!
Visiting Tumalo Falls in the Winter or Spring
The winter and spring may make visiting a little bit more work, but it’s a great way to see the falls in a winter wonderland and get a nice walk in! Here are your two options for this time of year.
Option #1: Walk the road
The shortest way to get to the falls in the winter or spring is to walk the road. We parked here, which had enough spots for maybe 5-8 cars and walked 2.5 miles each way. We arrived pretty early on a weekday morning in April and were the third car at the trailhead, but when we returned, the parking area was full, with people parking on the sides as well.
Walking the road is very straightforward and easy, but make sure to read reports beforehand to see if you’ll need snowshoes or microspikes! You’ll likely be able to tell from the parking lot which you’ll need. During our visit, there was snow on the road the entire way there, but our hiking boots were sufficient and it was only deep off to the sides. On the walk back, the sun had come out a bit and parts were melted.
While it may sound boring to walk the road, there were some nice views to keep us interested along the way, including some mountains in the distance and the creek off to the side.
Option #2: Hike the trail
Miles (roundtrip): 6.5
Elevation gain: 583 feet
Reviews & Current Conditions
Similar to the summertime, you can also hike the Tumalo Falls via Tumalo Creek Trail in the winter! We had planned to hike this one direction, but decided for the sake of time to do the easiest option. But from the glimpses of the creek we had from the road, it looked like it would be a more scenic way to go!
What to expect once at Tumalo Falls
No matter which season you visit, once you arrive at Tumalo Falls, your experience will be about the same. There are two major overlook areas at the falls, with three overlooks total. And the first overlook is just steps from the parking area, making it doable for anyone!
This overlook gives you a head on view of the falls from a lower perspective than the others. And while the waterfall is a bit further away, you can still feel the magnitude of the falls. It is the perfect way to truly grasp the waterfall’s size and beauty! If you have a zoom lens for your camera, we recommend bringing it for this spot!
From the first overlook, it’s about 0.25 miles to the next overlook area, which does take you to a higher perspective, so there is a bit of an incline along the way. Once at this area, you’ll have two more perspectives to check out.
The second is more of a side view of the falls and is much closer to the falls than the first overlook down by the parking lot. You also have a great view back towards the road you either drove or walked on, with the river below and some mountains. It is gorgeous!
The third viewpoint is a few seconds down the path from the second, but offers a completely different perspective…seeing the waterfall from above! This view overlooks the top of the falls, which is a very cool way to see just how much water is rushing over the top and how far down it is falling.
After seeing these viewpoints you can either turn around or continue on and hike the Tumalo Falls Loop, which is 6.8 miles round trip (from the Tumalo Falls parking area, not the winter parking areas). While we personally have not hiked this, we hear that it is a great hike! One thing to note is that dogs are only allowed on the first half of this loop (on the North Fork Trail), as the second half goes into part of the Bend Watershed.
Whether you hike miles to the falls, drive up, or continue on after the falls, we hope that you enjoy this majestic waterfall as much as we did!
Ready to visit Tumalo Falls?
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