Vacationing in Sunriver provides endless amounts of activity for your family. With the SHARC, the Village at Sunriver, the Deschutes River and the bike paths, day trips from Sunriver and other things to do are almost limitless. Some days, you may feel a bit more adventurous, wanting a new excursion that is further out than the backdoor of your rental home.
Here are a few fun day trips from Sunriver for you to consider. All are family friendly and might just be the adventure you need. Be sure to have your recreation pass for parking and there is no lunch needed, a restaurant is included as part of your adventure!
The East side of Highway 97: East Lake, Paulina Lake and more
Just a few miles south of Sunriver, across Highway 97, and up Paulina Lake road, you will find more than one day’s worth of exploring. As you drive along Paulina Lake Road, you will notice a creek weaving next to the road. About 12 miles up the road, stop at Paulina Creek Falls Day Use Area. From there, you can hike down a path to view the stunning falls. Don’t forget your camera!
After this short, yet worthwhile hike, hop back in your car for about 3 – 4 more miles, following signs to the Big Obsidian Flow. The trailhead here has plenty of parking. You will find a one-mile-long loop that does gain some elevation, but the views you gain at the height of the trail are worth the climb. Benches and informational plaques are placed throughout the hike, so you can take a break and learn more about the area. The hike feels unreal, as you walk through the jagged obsidian, looking down over the crater that holds the lakes that you will soon visit. Remember that it is prohibited to collect any obsidian from the area. Enjoy the views and leave the beautiful rocks as you find them.
Paulina and East Lakes will end this adventure as the last stops on the Paulina Lake Road. The lakes are crystal clear, non-identical twin crater lakes in the Newberry Crater (or Caldera), which lies atop Newberry Volcano. The lakes may have once been one large lake, but eruptions of the volcano have divided the lakes with pumice, ash and lava flows. Both lakes have sandy shores and are known for some amazing fishing. Grab some lunch at either Paulina Lake Lodge or the East Lake Resort.
Just up the road: North & South Twin Lakes
Drive away from Sunriver, and follow South Century Drive west, towards the mountains and follow signs to the Twin Lakes Resort (address: 11200 South Century Drive, La Pine, OR 97739). You will take a left turn off the main road to enter this recreation area. Before driving too far down, take a left pretty quickly, heading to North Twin Lake. This unique lake is worth the stop. It’s worth it to bring a kayak or paddleboard to explore the small, non-motorized lake. As you paddle around the lake, you can see through the crystal clear water as long as the bottom stays close enough. The lake is small and shallow enough that the water stays warm and cozy for a swim. Paddle yourself out towards the middle and take a dive in, you won’t be sorry! There is also a beach shallow enough for wading and relaxing near the parking area.
After splashing around in North Twin Lake, head down the road to South Twin Lake and visit the Twin Lakes Resort. If you didn’t haul your own kayak or paddleboard up, you can find one to rent at this resort. After a paddle around the lake, hop into the resort’s restaurant for some lakeside dining.
Sunday Driving: Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway
Fill up the gas tank, grab some road snacks and brace yourself to soak up a day of Oregon’s beauty. Visit Bend has put together a great map with some points of interest for you to follow here. From Sunriver, drive West, towards Mt. Bachelor up the 45 road. Follow signs to Mt. Bachelor, circling around the mountain on the 46 road (The Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway) and your adventure has begun. The highway is chock-full of spectacular views of lakes, wildlife viewing opportunities and you can even stop and grab some lunch in a few spots. I recommend downloading the Visit Bend map and taking some of their advice on stops.
Here are a few of our favorite day trips from Sunriver:
- Mt. Bachelor – It’s worth stopping and viewing the mountain in the summertime. If you’ve got the time, hop on the chairlift and soak up the views from 7,775 feet! Once you reach the top, you can grab some food, hike the trails, or just take advantage of some photo opps and get back on the road. (idea: Take this roadtrip backwards and end your day at Mt. Bachelor for a sunset dinner!)
- Todd Lake – This little lake in the mountains is a great find. If you do want to pack a picnic lunch, this is a great spot. Grab a blanket, your picnic basket and take the short ¼ mile walk to this quaint lake. There are no motors permitted on the lake, making for a quiet and true wilderness experience.
- Elk Lake – This is a beautiful and large lake on the journey. It’s bright blue and green and so worth the views. You will find some stunning photo opps and if you’re hungry at this point, you can grab a burger and soda at the resort here. Or, stop by a day use area and cool off with some wading in the shallow waters of the beach areas.
- Cultus Lake – Another large and breathtaking mountain lake that you won’t want to miss. If you haven’t grabbed lunch yet, here’s another opportunity for some lakeside dining. If you’ve found yourself with some extra time, grab a paddle boat, a paddleboard, a canoe or even a jet ski and explore the depths of the lake.
These are just a few stops of so many that are worthwhile day trips from Sunriver.
As the day winds down, make your way to the 42 road and head back down towards Surniver to complete your loop. If you still have some time, swing by the Fall River Hatchery to learn about hatchery operations and wonder the beautiful grounds before returning to your home base here in Sunriver.