Pilot Butte is a 500-foot (150 m) extinct volcano remnant within Bend's city limit, formed during a volcanic eruption approximately 188,000 years ago. Only three other cities in the United States – Portland in Oregon, Jackson in Mississippi, and Honolulu in Hawaii – have a volcano within their city limits.
Pilot Butte has been used as a lookout by Native people to spot wildlife and Euro-American pioneers find a route.
The 100-acre Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint has been a state park since 1927 and one of Oregon’s most (if not the most) visited scenic viewpoint to the east of the Cascades.
Pilot Butte is a popular hiking destination with three trails of seven miles total.
You can drive to the top during daylight hours. The road is closed for vehicles in winter. Those who have the stamina and determination to climb the hill's top can choose the steep one-mile self-guided Natural Trail or a gradual route that runs along the paved road. Any of the options are rewarded with the panoramic view of the entire city, the high desert, and the Cascade Range in the background. Enjoy spectacular vista and take awesome photos of nine snowcapped peaks including Mount Bachelor, Three Sisters, Mount Jefferson, Black Butte, and Mount Hood. The scenery is especially beautiful when it is illuminated by sunsets or full moon.
Interpretive panels provide information related to geography, local geology, and natural history.