Summer is HERE in full force and it’s time to take advantage of the spectacular outdoors that we are so lucky to have surround us.
When visiting Bend there are a couple of things you need to know before you go. This is your one-stop-blog for campsites, hikes and links to purchase your respective required Recreation passes and permits! Bend has recently required passes for all of the National Forests and parks around us. To make it easy, they have online registration forms to fill out at your convenience! Northwest passes and permits were required as of May 28, 2021, the last day of the permit season is September 24, 2021.
Let’s see if we can answer some of the questions you might have when venturing out to the woods! Another helpful resource my family and I have used is state recreation resources.
If you are wondering where to purchase passes for the day or long-term you can get them online at the Bend parks and Recreation. Daily parking passes ($5) are available at every day-use park that charges a fee. One-year ($30) and two-year ($50) parking passes are available online, by phone at (800) 551-6949 with a Visa or MasterCard, from state park offices and from other vendors all over the state.
If you are looking for an Oregon Forest Pass, it is available at National Forest offices and visitor centers, via private vendors or online. You can also buy the day pass (called an ePass) online and print it at home. The National Forest pass is great if you are going to go to Washington and Oregon and make a road trip out of it!
Let’s say you want to use your pass a little more local then, Oregon State Parks pass is a good choice for you. This pass gives you access to 25 Oregon State Parks. There are options to purchase a 12-month parking permit for $30, or a 24-month parking permit for $50 online at the Park Store, from most major state park offices, or from vendors all over the state.
Have you heard of a Northwest Forest Pass? These passes are only valid for national forests in Washington and Oregon, they will save you A LOT of time and money by purchasing a pass rather than multiple at each location. The reason behind this pass is to experience what our nature does for us. With this specific pass you will see National Forests, Grasslands, Scenic Areas, Recreation Areas and Monuments in Oregon and Washington. If you are wondering if State Parks Honor National Park Passes, the answer is no. The Annual Pass is valid at participating Federal recreation sites only.
There are different types of recreational passes such as, day use parking pass and parking passes. To make sure you are purchasing the correct pass take a look at the park status in Oregon for further directions. Another great tool I have used is the Oregon state – federal recreation pass programs page. That page breaks down all the passes you would need while out exploring the PNW!
The following passes are some fun ones I found while researching!
Are you kidding me? Accepted at all federal recreation sites in the country? Yes, you heard it right! The price for one year is $80.00 and can be bought online. The name of the pass explains it all, to make sure you know your way around you’ll want to hold tight of the map of parks.
JUST in case you venture out of Oregon on your excisions the Discover Pass is a great option! This pass is accepted at all state recreation lands in WA and $35.00 for an entire year, you can buy it online for a smooth transaction. Since a lot of us are here in Oregon, I want to make sure all frequently asked questions get answered before you head out of the state, take a couple extra minutes to browse through them.
DISCOVER PASS FREE DAYS
FREE ASS DAYS! Okay, okay, okay there’s a small catch… you get FREE days to gather all your friends, family, cars, RVs, etc. to go explore without having to purchase a pass. Make sure you head out early… In our experience, a lot of people wait for these days and it gets super busy!
Following are the 2021 State Park free days
- 1 — First Day Hikes; New Year’s Day
- 18 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- March 19 — State Parks’ 108th Birthday
- April 3 — Springtime free day
- June 5 — National Trails Day
- June 12 — National Get Outdoors Day
- June 13 — Free Fishing Day
- June 19 — Juneteenth
- 25 — National Park Service Birthday
- 25 — National Public Lands Day
- 11 — Veterans Day
- 26 — Autumn free day
All hikes, parks and areas surrounded by the Oregon Pacific Coast laid out just for you? Yup, that’s right! You get to enjoy all the highlights by purchasing this passport. The cost for a year is $35.00 and is available to be bought online. This specific pass is accepted at 16 federal recreation locations and to follow all the news and events make sure to peak at their website.
This pass is accepted at five Portland- area parks including, Oxbow and Blue Lake regional parks, Broughton Beach, Chinook Landing Marine Park and M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp. For a year this pass costs $40.00. This pass covers all parking and we all know how much that can add up!
Last but not least I had to include the Oregon Sno-park pass! Although we are talking summer, I know some of you are already thinking of winter! This pass is accepted at all sno-parks in Oregon and is only $25.00 for a whole year. You can buy it online anytime so you are ready for winter activities. There is a direct page to guide you through all of the steps.
Now how could I give you all the information on park passes without recommending some hikes? I want to share a few favorite places, these parks are nothing less than extraordinary. For all of the Cascade lakes below you will need a Deschutes National Forest pass. You’ll want to experience them all once you get a glimpse of how amazing the views are!
This lake is one of the easiest high mountain lakes to access, you have a spectacular view and provides walk-in tent camping July-October. Because this lake is not very deep Motor crafts are prohibited but you can hike up with your Kayak, Paddleboards and canoes. You are able to jump in and cool off with your pups or friends but make sure to bring a lot of bug spray!
This hike has around 22 backcountry campsites it has all the feelings of being remote and private. It is a fairly easy hike roughly 2.3 miles and ~60-foot elevation change, so nothing the whole family couldn’t do! The depth of the lake doesn’t exceed more than 10 feet which makes for great cooling off in the summer, it almost feels like bath water!
Have you seen the color of the water?! Unbelievable! This lake is formed by lava flow which creates this unreal scenery. The hike is 6 miles, perfect for all skill levels! This lake has access to many challenging trails just South Sisters for those who need a little more of a challenge. Make sure to bring your camera and EXTRA bug spray!
Elk Lake is the most popular lake of the Cascade Lakes, that being sad you MUST go see it. It is a 9 mile hike that branches off to Horse Lake Trail, if you are in need of a shorter hike Elk Lake Trail is 5 miles roundtrip. There are Campgrounds serving both tents and RV but you must make sure to get the proper pass to stay and camp!
Shhhh secret lake alter! Hosmer Lake is hidden a bit behind Elk Lake, the glass like water and less populated trails makes for a peaceful get away. Both camping available for RV and tents, with the proper permits!
This area will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Deschutes National Forest, It will lead you to the Six Lakes trail which is a 17 mile hike to the most epic and beautiful views. For a shorter hike, Lucy Lake is a great choice capping out at 3 miles. You won’t want to miss a sunrise or sunset from this location!
- Devils Lake/Wickiup Trailhead (South Sisters)
- Jefferson – Breitenbuch Trailhead
- Jefferson – Jack Lake Trailhead
- Jefferson – Duffy Lake Trailhead
- Jefferson – Marion Lake Trailhead
- Jefferson – PCT Breitenbush/ Breitenbush Lake Trailhead
- Jefferson – Pamelia Lake Trailhead
- Jefferson – Whitewater Trailhead
- Washington – Benson/Tenas Trailhead
- Washington -PCT McKenzie Pass Trailhead
Broken Top is a volcano that has been eroded by glaciers, exposing the cone. There are plenty of opportunities for your pups to drink water from the stream that runs alongside or nearby the trail throughout the hike. There is also a small lake at the top which dogs can drink from or swim in. You will see Mt. Bachelor, and the top of the Broken Top Crater. You’ll be able to take a pit stop at Todd Lake as showed above! You will need a Central Cascade Wilderness Permit to hike Broken Top.
We all see the beautiful Sisters looking at us! Have you been able to conquer any hikes near them? You’ll want a Central Cascade Wilderness Permit to successfully hike here. A great hike I would recommend is South Sisters, the traditional route starts at Devils lake and drops you at the base of South Sisters. This is a highly raved about hike! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Where to purchase passes –
- Sisters Ranger station
- Bi- Mart
- Black Butte Ranch
- Sisters Mainline Station
- Five Pine Lodge
If you stick to the trail the hike should take you about an hour and a half. Green Lake is just about 9,000 feet in elevation. This lake in my opinion is the best for swimming, although It does not have a view of South Sisters or Broken Top you have all the privacy you need! This area requires a Central Cascade Wilderness Permit.