Your Guide to Exploring Tumalo State Park

Tumalo State Park, not to be confused with the similarly named Tumalo Falls, is located on the north side of town between Tumalo (the town) and Bend. While this park isn’t exactly a secret, it doesn’t get nearly as much attention as many of the bigger ticket outdoor experiences surrounding Bend.

If you’re looking for a spot to camp, fish, play in the river, hike along the Deschutes River Trail, or just hang out in the grass for a day, then Tumalo State Park offers all of this and more.

Getting to Tumalo State Park

Tumalo State Park is located along the Deschutes River, approximately 7 miles northwest of Bend along O.B. Riley Road. You can access it from multiple exits off Highway 20, which heads out towards Tumalo and Sisters, or stick to O.B. Riley Rd. The latter is our preferred method as it’s a nice drive and avoids some of the highway traffic.

Driving from downtown Bend only takes 10 – 15 minutes, so this is a really quick getaway if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of town.

Note that this is a state park, so there is an entry fee. You can either buy an annual pass for $30, which gets you entry to any Oregon state park (including Smith Rock!) or pay $5 on-site for a day pass.

Amenities Offered at the Park

Tumalo State Park is unique in that, unlike the other parks in town, it offers a full suite of park amenities from day use to overnight camping.

Amenities at the park include:

  • Full hookup and tent camping sites
  • Yurts
  • Group Camping Areas
  • Restrooms
  • Group Picnic Areas
  • Day Use Picnic Sites
  • 2.4 Miles of River Trail

Things to Do At Tumalo State Park

The meandering Deschutes River is the center of attention at the park. You can relax by the river and take in the sites, kayak through the rapids, or cast a fly fishing line to hook a local rainbow trout. Here is everything you can do at Tumalo State Park.

Camping

Tumalo State Park offers the closest camping option to Bend. Because of this, these campgrounds often fill up quickly, so plan ahead if you’d like to book a spot. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance through Oregon State parks.

The park offers 23 full-hookup sites, 54 tent sites, 7 yurts, and 2 group campground areas. There are also flush toilets and showers available to campers.

This campground receives rave reviews from campers and consistently brings in great camp hosts who are there to help out at any time.

Swimming

The park offers some of the best swimming and splashing spots for kids in Bend. With sections of slow moving river and gradual wading areas its a great spot to spend an afternoon in the water.

There are shallow wading areas on both the south end of the park near the day use areas and on the north side of the park.

To get to the north side, park in the day use area and cross O.B. Riley Road. The Deschutes River Trail continues along the opposite side of the river after you cross the road.

Watch out for the currents along the river as there are stretches where they can pick up quickly once you wade out past the shallow areas along the riverbanks.

Kayaking

Tumalo State Park is one of the starting points for a segment of the Deschutes Paddle Trail. This stretch starts on the south side of the park near the day use area and takes paddlers to the take out at Cline Falls State Park.

There are also plenty of flat sections of river here where you can put in a kayak and practice your paddling skills without having to head all the way down river.

Hiking

Hiking in along the Deschutes River Trail in the park will take you to another world. The wildlife, soaring canyon walls, and soothing sounds of the river will make you feel like you’re hours outside of town rather than just 10 minutes.

There are 2.4 miles of hiking trails that follow along the river within Tumalo State Park. These trails also connect to the Riley Ranch Nature Reserve trails to the south which allow you to create an even longer loop.

Doing the full loop is a 6.6 mile hike and is one our favorite spots in town for a quick getaway as it is rarely crowded.

Note that dogs and bikes are not allowed in Riley Ranch Nature Reserve.

Fishing

The park is also a popular spot for anglers looking to cast a line for brown and rainbow trout. There are numerous spots along the river trail where you can easily wade out into the river to try your luck.

Stop in at one of our awesome local fly fishing shops to get intel on some of the best spots to cast a line and suggestions for which flies to use.

Picnic

There are numerous picnic tables all along the south side of the park. They are nestled under the ponderosa pines so even on the warmest summer days you’ll be able to find shade to enjoy a picnic lunch.

If you’re bringing a group there are two dedicated group day-use sites that can be reserved ahead of time.

When to Visit

Tumalo State Park is a wonderful place to visit year-round, with each season offering a unique perspective of the river and surrounding wilderness.

The most popular season for the park is during the summer as the river is the show’s star. During this time, you’ll find families wading in the shallow areas, kayakers paddling downstream, campers filling up the campgrounds, and hikers and trail runners making their way along the trails.

In fall, the colors along the river explode into a collection of reds, oranges, and yellows which makes for great photography opportunities. The lower temperatures make for great hiking, and you’ll most likely have large stretches of the river all to yourself.

You’ll never know what you might run into during the winter in the park. One day it may offer up a crisp walk along the river while the next may mean pushing through 8 inches of fresh powder which blanket the riverbanks.

Spring days bring new warmth to enjoy the outdoors and is a great time to find camping spots. The nights may still be chilly though so bring and good sleeping bag and some firewood to keep warm!

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About the Author

Derek

Derek

Derek is a PNW native and is lucky to call Bend home. When he's not writing for Wander Bend he can be outside hiking at Smith Rock, cross country skiing at Meissner, or drinking a latte at any of Bend's great coffee shops.

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