Here is a list of the top 5 best scenic locations in and around Bend, Oregon for family portraits. I’ve also include a few little tips and tricks about each location to help assure your portrait experience runs smoothly.
Painted Hills, Oregon – 1 hour 50 minute drive east from Bend, Oregon. Painted Hills is a stunning location. Vast rolling hills with rich of orange, red and golden tones. The best time of the year for family portraits at the Painted Hills would be Spring or late summer early fall. In the spring the colors show strong from water saturated hills and new vegetation. September is a great time to go as there is not as many tourists and the temperature is pleasant. Pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water to enjoy after the photo shoot. It’s also nice to bring an extra change of clothing in case a rain storm comes through, weather can be slightly unpredictable or you get a little dirty exploring the area.
Smith Rock State Park – Terrebonne, Oregon – 45 minute drive north of Bend, Oregon. Smith Rock offers rustic views of sheer cliffs and basalt rock formations. A beautiful year round location for family portraits. This park is highly visited so parking these days can be a bit tricky. Plan ahead and get there early. I recommend arriving at least 3o minutes prior to your portrait session to assure you can find a parking space and purchase your parking permit. I plan all family portrait sessions based off optimal lighting at this location, so it’s important to arrive on time. During the summer months it gets pretty hot bring snacks and water especially for the little ones.
Sparks Lake Bend, Oregon – 30 minute drive from Bend on the scenic Cascade Lakes byway, this is another amazing location to explore and have family portraits taken during the the months of late May through late October. Sparks Lake offers majestic views of the Cascade Mountains like no other location in Central Oregon. Not only that you also have lava rock formations, streams, lake, forest and meadows. So there is a lot of variety to work with for backdrops. Parking is easily accessible. Sunrises and sunsets are pretty incredible for family portraits. The Cascade Lakes bypass closes right around November 15 and reopens middle to late May each year. So you need to plan your trip and portrait session accordingly.
Dillon Falls Bend, OR – 15 minutes outside of Bend, OR off the scenic Cascade Lakes bypass this location is great during the late fall season. The fall colors, river and meadow vibe offers a simplistic and minimalistic backdrop. If you are looking for a location close to Bend this is a great spot. I would not recommend this location during any other time other than late fall as the mosquitoes rule the land during late spring and summer months when the area is accessible and the mosquitoes make for a miserable experience for all. However, it is beautiful and a fun location for the kids and family early to late fall season.
Three Sister’s Wilderness Sisters, OR – 15 minutes South of Sisters, OR this is by far my most favorite spot in Central Oregon if you want to get up close and personal with the mountains without a hike. It’s off a forest road, not easy to find unless you know where it is. It can be an unpredictable location as it’s located high within the mountains in an exposed area to the weather and wind elements. Often times there are down forest trees on the road to get to the location blocking roads. You also want to go to this location in a clear day when the mountains are out in all their glory. Both sunrise and sunset can be epic at this spot! Photo sessions at this location have to be planned out based off weather conditions, road conditions and most importantly above all the “wind”. So there is some planning and prep logistics involved with this location. However, if all the stars aline just right… this is a STUNNER! What I love most about this spot is it’s remote untouched environment, the privacy you will receive, the unique burned dry white manzanita bushes and lastly but certainly not least, the epic mountain views!
If you love a panoramic view…this is a must see. I love capturing stitched panoramic images at this location for my clients. Great for hanging above a bed or fireplace in your home!
If you would like more information on booking your family portrait session in a scenic location in Bend, Oregon and or the surrounding area please reach out. Let’s document some memories together!!!
Need help with what to wear? Here is a link to a blog post on clothing tips and ideas:
Pinterest is also a great resource for clothing ideas as well.