My only goal was to escape the dog-terrifying fireworks during the Fourth of July in the community where I lived. But what I discovered was a dog-friendly luxury retreat in the quiet pine forests of Sunriver, Oregon and a week of relaxation, recreation, and celebration.
Escape to Sunriver, Oregon
Until this year, my community allowed personal fireworks during the Fourth of July. Fireworks aficionados set them off a week before the Fourth and kept on with the crack, boom, and bam until they ran out, days after the holiday.
During the summer prior to the ban taking effect, I was determined to find a quiet place to enjoy the Fourth of July with calm and happy dogs. I researched places to go and found that my options were to camp in a National Forest or to rent a home in the family and dog-friendly vacation community of Sunriver, Oregon, just south of Bend.
Sunriver is a beautiful place in the pinewoods where families and couples enjoy renting vacation homes or staying at the full-service resort. Sunriver Resort is home to 63 holes of world-class golf including the famed Crosswater Club, a Golf Digest Top 100 course.
Additional summer activities include riding bikes on the 30 miles of paved trails, taking a guided horseback ride at Sunriver Stables, rafting, or canoeing down the Deschutes River. You can also enjoy locally made ice cream at the Village at Sunriver or sip a brew while listening to music.
Dog-Friendly Rental Homes in Sunriver, Oregon
In checking out the various vacation home rental websites, I found Bennington Properties with lovely homes for rent. And, much to my delight—and that of Cinnamon and Francesca the coonhounds—they had a whole section devoted to pet-friendly rental homes right in Sunriver.
It was going to be just myself and the dogs for this getaway, so we found a smaller home with decks, comfortable bedrooms, a hot tub, and plenty of pine trees. It had air conditioning for the daytime and a fireplace for the evening. I rented #10 Deer Lane and eagerly anticipated the vacation. Bennington’s website was full of good dog-friendly information and they even had an evening “Yappy Hour,” for socializing.
Smelling the Pine Trees and Relaxing
I packed the car with leashes, dog beds, food, and books (for me) and headed over beautiful Mt. Hood and south. I stopped several times for dog walking and finally pulled into the resort community of Sunriver. The speed limit was set to keep the bikers and walkers on the 30 plus miles of paved trails safe and happy. I followed the map and found Deer Lane easily. Bennington gives you a key code and a time to arrive so there is no stopping to check in at their office.
I was thrilled when I drove up. The home was just as pictured… deck furniture beckoned me and there was ample pine forest to tie out the dogs on their 15-foot leads. While the dogs sniffed around for chipmunks, I unloaded the car. The inside of the home was comfortable and very clean.
On the counter was a dog bowl and doggie treats, a gift from Bennington. The dogs were thrilled!
By the time I unloaded and filled the refrigerator, it was time for a glass of wine on the deck. The sun filtered through the pines, people walked their dogs leisurely on paths in the distance and there were absolutely no sounds of fireworks. The smell of warm pine needles brought me back to summers past.
The dogs explored the home and then settled to rest on their own pet beds while I made dinner. Soon it was dark. Sunriver is a place where people are very active in the daytime… biking, swimming, playing golf, and kayaking. So things can get quiet at night.
Dog Adventures in Bend and Sunriver, Oregon
I enjoyed walking the paved trails in Sunriver for a couple of days and I noticed the dogs were yearning to run free. While that wasn't possible in Sunriver because coonhounds love to chase squirrels, chipmunks and deer, I had read that Bend had some excellent dog parks. I found something in Bend that sounded ideal. It was in NE Bend and was part of Pine Nursery Community Park.
The Bob Wegner Memorial Off-Leash Park, the website said, was a 14-acre off-leash area for dogs including grass field, splash pad, walking trails, and separate small dog area. That all sounded good but we were absolutely blown away by what we found at the park.
It was a dog adventure area with trails, rocks to climb, trees, trails, and even a huge grassy area for ball catching and playing. Francesca liked that part for playing and rolling with other dogs. There were drinking fountains all over the place and benches for owners to rest on. Sometimes I lost sight of the dogs but since it was fenced, we usually crossed paths within a few minutes.
Another day, I took the dogs walking along the Deschutes River, starting in Bend's Old Mill District. I noticed they provided doggie clean up bags. We watched the kayakers and the surfers (yes, surfers) in the new whitewater park. Bend is very dog friendly with outdoor coffee shops and brew-pub patios that welcome furry companions.
We ended up spending several mornings in Bend. It was only a 25-minute drive from our woodsy vacation home.
Celebrating the Fourth of July in Sunriver, Oregon
They don't allow fireworks at Sunriver so I almost forgot about the holiday. But mid-morning on the Fourth, I heard some fire and police sirens and wanted to investigate. So I leashed up Cinnamon (Francesca had gone back to bed after her morning walk) and went over to the Sunriver Village.
I discovered they were having a big festival and we were just in time for the parade. There were families with decorated bikes, classic cars, and an antique fire engine. There were games for the kids and music to listen to. It was an old fashioned Fourth of July.
That night the family in one of the homes near us had a party. That was the only night things were not quiet. Given that it was a holiday, I understood. The rental home was huge, with several second-floor decks and was perfect for the celebration. Fortunately, there were no sounds of fireworks. It’s just too dangerous in the warm dry pine forest.
The week went by way too fast. The dogs and I spent our last day over near the stables watching the wranglers lead trail rides along the river. The dogs didn't know what to make of the horses.
Francesca took a dip in the cool Deschutes River. And then it was time to pack the car.
The next day we drove north and stopped in Bend at the Bob Wegner Memorial Dog Park for one last run. The dogs tired easily as the sun warmed the volcanic rock. They were ready to ride home in the air-conditioned car. It was a beautiful drive north with a chain of snow-capped mountains to my left and Mt. Hood looming before me.
Sunriver, Oregon was an ideal getaway for a “dogcation.” While I achieved my goal of a fireworks-free Fourth (and calm dogs), I’d like to return sans dogs to explore hiking trails, go to the High Desert Museum, canoe in the Deschutes River and experience the farm to table food scene in the Bend area.
When You Go to Sunriver, Oregon
Central Oregon, in general, is very dog and family-friendly. There is so much for everyone to do… skiing in the winter and swimming in the summer. It’s an outdoor recreation paradise. Sunriver, Oregon and the entire Central Oregon region are very popular during holiday times so it is best to make reservations early. For more things to do and see in the area, see our Oregon articles by Wander writers. And, for more pet-friendly travel, enjoy these articles featuring our furry friends.