Although the dry high desert may be more associated with, well, desert, and dry rock formations like Smith Rock, tucked into the Cascades and throughout Central Oregon there are gems of lush waterfalls. Here are three to jumpstart summer:
With easy access to the biggest and most impressive waterfall along Tumalo Creek (just 10 miles outside of Bend and tucked beneath Broken Top Mountain), the sheer drop of 89 feet can be viewed at multiple lookout platforms (the closest being only 50 feet from the parking lot). It is almost too easy: A short and easy path zigzags to the top of the waterfall. To extend your visit explore along the creek or check out the many other biking and hiking paths surrounding the falls.
Follow Skyliners Road for 10.5 miles and turn left on FSR 4601. This gravel route ends in another 2.5 miles at the Tumalo Falls Trailhead.
Wider than tall, the 67-foot-tall, 80-foot-wide waterfall is one in the series of powerful waterfalls in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area that make up Whychus Creek Falls. Absolutely majestic, with a canyon overlooking the frothy waterfall.
From Highway 242 in downtown Sisters, turn south on FS 16, signed for Three Creek Lake. After 7 miles, turn right, and proceed just under 5 miles; turn left immediately before crossing Whychus Creek. Follow this rough road for another 2 miles to a T-junction and bear left. The trailhead is another half-mile.
Dotted with fishing and picnicking spots, the trail along the Deschutes River follows the high desert canyon walls until reaching a dead end that overlooks the place where the river widens before plummeting 20 feet. Salmon and locals alike enjoy jumping these falls.
From Terrebonne, turn west on NW Lower Bridge Way. Proceed 2 miles before turning right on NW 43rd Street. Go 1.8 miles to Chinook Drive; left to Badger Road. Go another mile and turn right on Sage Hen Road. Half mile, turn left on Ermine Road, and another quick left on Quail Road. Right on River Road to Steelhead Falls Trailhead.