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Your guide to Black Butte Ranch
Welcome to Black Butte Ranch
Many Pacific Northwesterners have fond childhood memories of family getaways to Black Butte Ranch, a central Oregon resort community set in the shadow of an extinct volcano and surrounded by the rugged Deschutes National Forest. Established in 1970 on an old cattle ranch, the sprawling 1,800-acre (728.4-ha) property lays claim to all manner of homes, ranging from cozy and rustic to impressively contemporary.
It’s a favorite all-season vacation spot because you really don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy the pristine outdoors. Its miles of paths are popular with cyclists, who zip between the many recreational facilities: on-site golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, and the sparkling lakeside pool (one of six pools on the property). Paddling, biking, fishing, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing are a few of the many pastimes here. The ranch is also a convenient basecamp for exploring the region’s iconic trails, rivers, waterfalls, and snow-dusted mountains.
How do I get around Black Butte Ranch?
There’s no good way around it: Black Butte Ranch requires a car to get to and easily explore. So load up the bikes, the golf clubs, and the swim gear for a road trip. It takes 45 minutes to drive to the ranch from Bend, the region’s largest town. Plan on about two hours of road time from Eugene and Salem, or three hours from Portland. If you’re coming from out of state, you’re more likely to fly into the Portland International Airport (PDX), though a smaller number of airlines also offer direct flights to the Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM) in Redmond, a 30-minute drive away.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Black Butte Ranch?
Summer is high time for family vacations here. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the parking lots tend to get packed at popular trailheads and natural sites around the region. The pace slows in late spring and early fall, when the crisp air and often sunny skies are perfect for cycling the trails and hitting the golf courses. Holiday trips to the ranch in November and December are a tradition for some families. Hiking boots get swapped out for skis and snowshoes come winter, when the slopes and Nordic ski trails fill up at the nearby Hoodoo Ski Area.
What are the top things to do in Black Butte Ranch?
Black Butte Trail
Climb up an extinct volcano for panoramic views of the evergreen forests and towering mountain peaks of the Cascade Range. The trail starts at the Black Butte Trailhead, maintained by the Deschutes National Forest. It’s a moderate 2-mile climb to the summit, where you’ll find one of the state’s many fire lookout towers (not open for public access). In summer, show up early to catch the sunrise without the crowds.
Suttle Lake Day Use Area
Revisit the days of summer camp getaways at this quaint lakeside hangout, where you can lounge by the clear waters of the 253-acre (102.3-ha) lake. An easy trail rings the lake’s wooded shores. The on-site restaurant and craft cocktail bar make this a scenic dinner destination on summer evenings.
For a more off-the-grid day trip into the Deschutes National Forest, drive remote roads to reach one of central Oregon’s most magical spots: an ancient lava tube, where sun filters through naturally formed skylights, an effect that photographers seek out on sunny mornings, when the light beams through the holes and inches across the cave floor. Come prepared with hiking boots, keeping in mind you need to climb down a sturdy metal ladder to enter. The cave is only open from May through September to protect the resident bats.