Look at Bend from the summit of Pilot Butte — Photo courtesy of Jason E Kaplan
Bend, Oregon is a small city dwarfed by the surrounding mountains and high desert which within it exists. As a counter balance to soggy green forests of western Oregon, the austere landscape east of the Cascade Mountains is an outdoor lover's playground.
Being a four hour drive from Portland, Bend is too far for a day trip. However, it has many attractions that make it a perfect weekend getaway.
The population of this city has quadrupled in the past 20 years. Residents know what touristss learn: that Bend features opportunities for all seasons. In the summer, the Deschutes River, which splits the town, offers rafting adventures for all skill levels. Several outfitters offer guided raft trips through rapid conditions suitable for beginner to expert. The Seventh Mountain River Company provides two hour trips on a daily basis. More extended, multi-day rafting expeditions are arranged by companies like Ouzel Outfitters.
Aside from rafting, the Deschutes River also offers some of the best fly fishing in the country, with stunning scenery and famously large river trout and salmon. Bend is also known as a great location for golf. Rapid expansion during the real estate boom brought the construction of several new golf courses. Nearby Sunriver (about 12 miles from Bend's city centers) is home to Crosswater at Sunriver Resort, ranked in the top 100 public golf courses by both Golf and Golf Digest magazines.
Other activities include hunting in the nearby Deschutes National Forest, rock climbing, hiking and camping. A plethora of resorts offer getaways for all budgets and tastes. From the luxurious Oxford Hotel offering a downtown boutique hotel experience to a fully appointed convention center at The Riverhouse and easy access to outdoor fun at places like the Seventh Mountain Resort.
Winter in Central Oregon is all about skiing. The 9,065 foot high peak of Mt. Bachelor is only 22 miles from downtown Bend. The mountain boasts some of the best snow in the country. With a total of 12 lifts (one going all the way to the summit) and 71 trails, there are several options for skiers of all skill levels. In the summer, ski lift rides offer spectacular views and make a great family activity. Lodging options, both in the area and on the mountain itself abound.
Bend is both Central Oregon's largest city and the hub of all the region has to offer. The cool, dry high desert climate makes outdoor activities comfortable year-round. Known best for skiing at nearby Mt. Bachelor, the bend area also provides easy access to some of the best fishing, hunting, golf, climbing, rafting and camping in the Pacific Northwest.