High Desert Tree Peeping
Central Oregon isn't renowned for fall foliage, but it should be. True, we're lacking in the big hardwood giants that makes going to New England in the fall an item on many a bucket list, but we don't suffer a lack of autumn awesomeness around these parts either.
This might be the most scenic park in all of Bend, particularly in the fall when aspen and larch trees set autumn skies alight like nearly neon columns of amber, while the understory is punctuated with pops of orange and red. The trail system serves as a choose-your-own-adventure allowing for a short stroll along Tumalo Creek, a meaty trail run, or a mellow singletrack mountain bike ride. Head out of downtown Bend west on Newport Avenue continuing straight at the two roundabouts. At the third roundabout, 1.25 miles from downtown, continue straight as the road changes names to NW Shevlin Park Road. Follow NW Shevlin Park Road, straight through two more roundabouts, making a total of five roundabouts, for another 2.75 miles to Shevlin Park on your left.
The best way to see autumn's handy work here is by foot. Hiking downstream it's easy to take in the subtle beauty of shade-shifting sedges and grasses along banks as they give way to the bright yellow willows set against deep green pines. There are a number of great spots, but the stretch of river between Bull Bend and Wyeth campgrounds is a gentle stroll that affords a really good chance of seeing wildlife as well. Both campgrounds are accessible by taking 97 South to County Route 43 for 7.9 miles, follow the signs off Forest Road 4370 from there.