Benham Falls

Written by’s Local Expert


If you are exploring Benham Falls, there are two options for you to consider. The first is to take a short hike, which is by far the best way to explore this area. The other option is to take the drive to the area and then park. This parking lot is just a few steps from the waterfall lookout point. During our trip, we decided to check out both areas to see the falls and enjoy the surrounding area.

The Benham Falls Trail is an easy, beautiful trip. If you have a love for nature like I do, bring your camera and set out on the trail. It’s only about a 1.5-mile trail, and it is an out and back style. It takes less than 30 minutes for the average person to complete it, but I take longer because I love to look at all of the old growth trees in this area. It’s beautiful.

Many people come to take this hike for birding. Even if you are not an avid birder, you can easily appreciate this area’s numerous species that seem to be all around you when you are exploring the area. It’s also a popular location for running.

Getting There & Parking

To get to the Benham Falls East Day, take Highway 97 south. It’s about 8 miles south of Bend. You will come to a sign that says the Lava Lands Visitor Center Exit. Take that and turn right. You will then travel along Forest Road 9702. Go past the Lava Lands Visitors Center. It’s about four miles down that street to get to the parking area.

If you don’t want to take the trail, there is an outlook area just a few steps from the actual parking lot. Otherwise, park in the lot at the end of the street and then follow the signs for the Benham Falls Trail. It’s really not that hard to get to, and it is certainly worth the experience.

Keep in mind that this area is a graveled, accessible interpretive trail. It is short, but it’s also worth it to just check it out at your own pace. There’s a picnic site here, too.

The Hike

The Benham Falls Hike is a beautiful one that is pretty even and easy to follow. Some people start at the Lava Lands Visitors Center and walk down the trail. Keep in mind most of it is a downhill path inward (which means it is more uphill coming out, but not too bad). If you take that long walk (from the visitors center), it’s going to be over 10 miles. That’s not the route we took.

Rather, from the parking lot, we followed the start of the trailhead. The walk itself is flat and wide. You can take your dog with you if you like. It’s also possible to bring a stroller (though some areas could get a bit rough). Take the time to check out the trees and the surrounding area. Be sure to look at the trees with their unique growth patterns. It’s also fun to spot the various animals throughout this area.

The hike itself is well cared for though when it is wet, it can be a problem. The key to remember here is that there are likely to be a lot of other people on this path with you. You will want to be sure you pay attention for those on roller skates or bikes.

The Falls

The falls are beautiful. When you first see the area, you’ll notice the fast-moving water that seems to just continue forever. It is mesmerizing to watch the water move over the rocks. You can see how it has carved out various areas along its path.

The falls are not necessarily a single location where there is water rushing over the edge. Instead, it looks more like a river, though you can obviously see the higher portion and how it flows to the lower area. The overall experience of watching the water move is interesting.

You should not get into this water. It is moving quickly and can be dangerous. There are also a lot of signs throughout this area with information about rules and access. It’s a good idea to read through them, so you know what to expect. The rocks around the water are slippery and often covered in moss.

I found the trip throughout Benham Falls to be well worth it. Although you can make it shorter, it took us about 2 ½ hours to complete just because we took our time and spent a good amount of time watching the water move. It’s an easy overall walk and one I would recommend for anyone that loves the outdoors and how powerful nature can be.

Local Tips

  • There are two different routes to get to the Falls - one requires a hike and one is just steps away from the falls!
  • $5 parking fee per vehicle.


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