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RV Camping in Bend, OR: When to Go? Where to Park? What to Do?

Published on July 27th, 2023 by Chelsea Gonzales

RV camping in Bend, OR is a fantastic experience! This Oregon high desert town is just perfect for outdoorsy people like RVers. My family had a blast exploring the town and all of the amazing trails and natural areas around it.

Whether you prefer hiking, kayaking, or tubing down the river, there is something awesome for you to experience while RV camping in Bend

Here’s what you need to know before you set out on your Bend RV camping adventure. After reading this article,  you can head out well prepared and ready for a super fun time!

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When is the Best Time to Go RVing to Bend, Oregon?

First, let’s talk a bit about when you should go RV camping in Bend. After all, weather matters a lot when you plan on spending the majority of your visit outdoors. Fortunately, it’s possible to see some really beautiful weather in Bend, as long as you know when to visit. 

Plan Your Trip Between Late Spring and Early Fall

We recommend RVing to Bend in late spring, summer, and early fall. The time from late fall to early spring is usually cold and snowy. That’s fantastic for people who enjoy winter snow sports, but not so great for the rest of us just trying to keep warm in our RVs.

Not sure if you’re going at the right time of year? For reference, there was snow on the ground one week before we arrived on May 15th this year. So if you plan on swimming or river tubing in Bend, you might be best served waiting until July and August for the warmest temperatures. 

Mount Hood in the distance of Bend city lights (Image: Shutterstock)Source: Mount Hood in the distance of Bend city lights (Image: Shutterstock)
Mount Hood in the distance of Bend city lights (Image: Shutterstock)

Where’s the Best RV Campground in Bend?

Of course, you will need to find a place to park while RV camping in Bend. The good news? There are lots of RV parking spots in the area. From luxury campgrounds to no-frills boondocking spots, you’re sure to find something that suits your fancy and fits into your budget. 

Some of our favorite RV camping spots in Bend include:

Thousand Trails Bend-Sunriver RV Resort  

The first place we stayed during our time in the Bend area was Thousand Trails Bend-Sunriver. As Thousand Trails members we didn’t actually pay to stay here. But we would recommend this campground even to RVers who don’t have a membership. Grabbing a Thousand Trails Camping Pass can be beneficial, depending on how often you plan to camp in the PNW.

The RV parking sites in this campground are level and well-shaded. They provide water and electric hookups, and there are dump stations in the park for emptying your waste tanks. We found the bathrooms to be clean and well kept, and the playground and other facilities were quite nice. 

Sun Outdoors Bend RV Resort (Formerly Crown Villa)

Sun Outdoors RV Resort in Bend, Oregon (Image @RV LIFE Dawn, RV LIFE Campgrounds)
Sun Outdoors RV Resort in Bend, Oregon (Image @RV LIFE Dawn, RV LIFE Campgrounds)

We didn’t actually stay at Sun Outdoors Bend (formerly Crown Villa Resort). But we have friends who hopped over there after their time in the Thousand Trails, and they enjoyed their time at this campground. 

The location of the campground puts you right in town, so driving to eat out or go shopping is quick and easy. The paved parking pads at each site are lovely, and the full hookups are even better. Once again, you’ll have plenty of shade in this park, a plus during Bend’s hot summers. You’re sure to love the pool, hot tub, pickleball courts, and other amenities. 

Is There Any Free RV Camping Near Bend?

When it came time for us to leave the Thousand Trails campground, we weren’t quite ready to leave the area entirely, so we decided to check out some of the nearby boondocking. There are tons of great looking free boondocking options around Bend.

Harrington Loop Road Dispersed Camping

We ended up camping at Harrington Loop Road Dispersed Camping. This is located 45 minutes north of the Thousand Trails Bend-Sunriver campground, just on the other side of Bend.

Honestly, we’d also recommend any of the boondocking spots up in the Sisters area. We really enjoyed being parked under the huge pine trees. As a bonus, the Verizon signal was awesome in our spot. We also appreciated that we were close to the road (despite some mild road noise). This is a relatively short drive to Sisters or to Bend. 

RV Trip Planning Ideas for Things to Do in Bend

Once you figure out when you’re going to visit and where you’re going to stay when RV camping in Bend, the only thing left to do is decide what you want to do while in the area. Fortunately, there are tons of amazing things to do and see—so many, in fact, that you may feel a little overwhelmed by all the options. 

Here are our top picks of things to do with kids and without.

Lava Lands Visitor Center & Lava Butte

No visit to the Bend area is complete without an adventure in Newberry Volcanic National Monument. The best place to start your visit? Lava Lands Visitor Center. Once you’ve explored the exhibits in the center, take a hike on one of the paved paths surrounding the visitor center and then drive to the top of Lava Butte for an amazing view.

Lava River Cave in Bend Oregon (Image: Dan Myers for Unsplash)
Lava River Cave near Bend Oregon (Image: Dan Myers for Unsplash)

Lava River Cave

Our absolute favorite part of Newberry National Volcanic Monument? Lava River Cave. This is an awesome lava tube that visitors are allowed to tour at their own pace. Be sure to bring a bright flashlight and watch out for bats that like to make themselves at home in the cave!

Big Obsidian Flow

Another part of the Newberry Volcanic National Monument that we highly recommend is the Big Obsidian Flow interpretive trail. This is a one-mile path that sends hikers to the top of an obsidian lava flow. You’ll be amazed by the shiny black glass all around you!

High Desert Museum

Want to learn more about the high desert ecosystem? The High Desert Museum is the place for you. This is an awesome little museum with exhibits on the plants, animals, and native people of the area. We especially loved the live owl presentation, the living history section of the museum, and the porcupine who calls the museum home.  

Visit The Last Blockbuster

Bend is the home of the last Blockbuster video rental store. While a visit to this nostalgic store is likely to be short and sweet, it is definitely worth doing while in town if you spent time in Blockbuster stores as a kid. Expect a few exhibits of Blockbuster memorabilia, some Last Blockbuster merchandise for sale, and of course, shelves of your favorite movies available for rent. 

Pilot Butte

Looking for an easy yet rewarding hike that doesn’t even require you to leave the town of Bend? Pilot Butte is a great pick. Choose from one of three trails and hike to the top of an old cinder cone for an amazing view of the town below. A playground, picnic areas, and restrooms are all available at the bottom of the butte. 

Tumalo Falls

There are a number of fantastic waterfalls around Bend. Tumalo Falls is a favorite waterfall and is the one you won’t want to miss if you have to choose just one to see. Take the Tumalo Falls Trail to see them all; Tumalo Falls, Double Falls, Upper Falls, North Fork Falls, Bridge Creek Falls, and more. 

Tubing and Kayaking

There are tons of opportunities for tubing and kayaking in Bend and around the area. We floated the Little Deschutes River right from the Thousand Trails campground. That said, you will be able to find a place to get in some floating or paddling no matter where you’re staying. 

Local Breweries

We aren’t beer people. Nevertheless, it was hard to miss the fact that Bend is chock-full of local breweries. If you enjoy a good beer, you are definitely going to want to make time to try some local brews before you leave. 

As you can see, RV camping in Bend, OR is a wonderful adventure that’s just waiting to be experienced by you. Now you’re ready to go! 

Plan the Perfect RV Trip to Bend, Oregon

Call us biased, but we really think that RV Trip Wizard is the only way to plan camping trips. Try it free for seven days to plan your Bend getaway. Download it to your smartphone for instant access to RV-safe routes, campground ideas, activity recommendations, and so much more that RVers need to know before heading down the road.

Image Sources

  • Bend,Oregon,Cityscape,With,Mt,Jefferson,At,Sunset: Mount Hood in the distance of Bend city lights (Image: Shutterstock)
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