Que Onda Travels: Bend, Oregon
Bend has long been a hub for outdoor adventure, no matter what time of year. And while it’s remained a stunning secret for those in the know, this small town is starting to break out of its shell. So stop by for an IPA and a backdrop of rushing rivers and towering mountains.
We promise you’ll have a hard time finding a better view.
WHEN TO GO
Winter or Summer
Bend’s many outdoor activities are seasonal — think skiing and snowshoeing in the winter and kayaking and hiking in the summer. Travel depends on your activity of choice. Snow blankets the mountains from December through March, and summer fun starts as soon as the weather warms up in June. You can’t really go wrong, though, so find a time that works for you and go for it.
Back in the Backcountry
Bend’s dramatic landscape boasts sharp mountain peaks, dense forests and gushing rivers. There’s nothing understated about this wilderness, and your time is best spent in the great outdoors greeting Mother Nature at her finest. The town is surrounded by the Cascade mountain range, which includes the volcanic peaks of Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters. In the summer, it’s all about getting out on the trail, whether that’s hiking, mountain biking or slipping over to nearby Smith Rock State Park for some rock climbing. But in the winter, when the mountains are covered in thick snow, you’ll want to head straight for the slopes of Mt. Bachelor for some of the best (and highest-elevation) skiing in all the PNW.
Cry Me a River
If you find yourself in Bend when the weather’s warm, turn to the water to cool down. First up is kayaking, and whether you’re looking for waterfalls and rapids on the Deschutes River or more of a lazy float, you’ll find what you’re after. We’re partial to the Brews and Views Canoe Tour, which caps off your float with some beer tasting. If you need more, take a drive on Cascade Lakes Scenic
Byway through Deschutes National Forest, stopping for waterfall hikes and lake views. Explore the turquoise waters of Devil’s Lake, rent a paddleboard at Elk Lake or cast a line at Hosmer Lake. The choices are endless.
The city of Bend is small but growing to accommodate those who have discovered its magic. The flourishing Old Mill District is buzzing with shops and restaurants, not to mention a thriving craft brewery scene.
Art isn’t neglected either, and you can discover Bend’s quirky public art scene on the Roundabout Art Route, which includes stops by the outdoor Tin Pan Alley Art Collection.
Bend Over Backwards
Thought we were done talking about adventure? Thought wrong. Besides your standard hiking and kayaking, Bend’s unique terrain makes it perfect for some extraordinary adventures. Discover volcanic landscapes used by the astronauts for training, including Lava River Cave, a mile-long lava tube. Or, if myths are more your thing, go searching for Bigfoot on Big Mountain’s Sasquatch Helicopter Tour. And for a wild afternoon, drive up to Crescent Moon Ranch, home to Oregon’s very own alpaca herd.
WHAT TO EAT
Hold my beer
Bend is packed with delicious eateries for all tastes. Start your day with an ocean roll from Sparrow Bakery or a full spread from Jackson’s Corner. Then for lunch, head to Spork for some delicious tacos or small plates. Dinner should find you at Wild Rose for Thai or Drake for some classic comfort food. Cap off your night with a tour of some of Bend’s finest breweries on the Ale Trail, from 10 Barrel Brewing to Crux.
Back to bed
Bend is home to its fair share of resorts and ski lodges, from Sunriver Resort and the romantic cabins of FivePine Lodge. But some of the hottest rooms in town can be found in the Airbnbs and rental cottages scattered around the Old Mill District. Check out Cottage Bend for cozy places to stay and feel like a local.
If all else fails, grab your sleeping bag and find a campground to sleep under the stars and wake up to gorgeous sunrises.