Pick a type of outdoor recreation or activity and Bend has it. Being located on the eastern edge of the Cascade Range along the Deschutes River brings warm summers and snowy winters, making room in the climate for just about any activity. Bend is known for fishing, biking, hiking, golf, snow sports of all kinds (snowboarding and skiing, in particular), climbing and bouldering, river activities, horseback riding, spelunking volcanic caverns…and so many more outdoor activities. It’s simply one of the best places to be if you like outdoor adventure.
Oh, and if you love your pets, they will definitely love Bend. There are numerous off-leash dog parks and dog-friendly activities, many of the local pubs in downtown Bend are pet-friendly, and businesses across the city offer all kinds of unique products and services for dogs. Outside of Bend, Central Oregon also has a thriving equestrian scene, the perfect place if you prefer your outdoor fun on horseback.
The streets, roundabouts, and trails (many of them paved) in Bend are excellent for biking, whether you’re a serious cyclist training for an event or just prefer to use your bike around town. There are constant casual biking groups and events to take part in, as well as more serious races and tours.
Bend is the premiere biking destination of the Northwest and cyclists will feel well at home here (although waiting through the snowy months may take a little patience). In fact, mountain bikers flock from all over the world to experience Phil’s Trail, a complex network of trails named for the local Bendite who carved out the original single track trail. It’s a must-do ride on any mountain bike enthusiast’s bucket list.
Hiking, meanwhile, flourishes both in and around Bend. A system of trails is maintained in the city that thoroughly explores rivers, canyons, and forests and offers amazing desert views. These trails are excellent for casual hikes with families that last only an hour or two such as hiking Pilot Butte, and also function as great training loops for athletes and joggers.
In the surrounding Cascade Mountains, hiking transforms into a vast terrain of trails exploring nearby peaks, lakes, waterfalls, and much more where you will find a hiking trail to suit just about everyone. The trails are perfect for day-long excursions, multi-day hiking, camping, mountain biking, and much more. It will take you many years to explore them all, from finding secret seasonal lakes to climbing up one of the Sisters Mountains. On the east side of town, there are plenty of high desert hikes that explore winding canyons and desert landscapes – be sure to pack your water!
Finally, for those who love climbing as an activity, Bend is filled with excellent climbing shops, guides and a wide variety of terrain to try out, including the immensely popular Smith Rock.
For the ultimate mountain adventure, try the Pole Pedal Paddle special event held each May. The multi-leg race starts at Mount Bachelor where skiers sprint uphill, don skis and schuss down the mountain, skate ski, cycle into Bend, run, canoe, or kayak to Riverbend Park and then sprint across the finish line.
Bend’s powder is the best on the West Coast, making it a popular hub for all kinds of snow sports. The ever-active Mount Bachelor is the locus for snowboarding and basic skiing, but that’s just the beginning. Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, dog-sledding, and snowshoeing are all popular activities throughout the winter (there’s also a kid-friendly hockey scene to try out).
If ice sports are your thing, The Pavilion in Bend offers ice skating, ice hockey, and curling for both kids and adults.
Central Oregon’s rivers are busy places! This is particularly true of the Deschutes River, which winds through the heart of Bend and has a variety of activities including leisurely floating or stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking — all immensely popular sports during the hotter summer months. Bend’s Whitewater Park near the Old Mill District is made up of three channels and is the perfect playground for water sports.
While there isn’t an abundance of fishing within the city (restoration and ecological sustainability are more of a focus here), that quickly changes just outside of Bend where you can find multiple fishing spots or guided fishing tours for a variety of angler preferences. The same is true of whitewater rafting and other, more adventurous river sports.
Who knew there are over 40 golf courses in Central Oregon? With mild yearly temperatures and crystal blue skies, it makes sense that Central Oregon loves their golf! Bend alone boasts 11 golf courses, three public and eight private.
Deschutes County is one of Oregon’s most popular destinations for fishing. Thanks to the multitude of lakes and rivers, one can find many species of trout, including rainbows, browns, brooks, and Mackinaw (lake trout) along with kokanee (land-locked sockeye salmon) and largemouth bass. In fact, some of the best fishing in Central Oregon is located in lakes just south of Bend. Make sure you check with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to get the proper permits and the Oregon State Marine Board to locate the nearest boat ramp.
Operated by the Bend Parks and Rec Department, the Juniper Swim and Fitness Center is a state-of-the-art, year-round facility with recreational activities for everyone. The center’s aquatic facilities include a seasonal outdoor pool with interactive features and large water slide, a covered and heated Olympic 50-meter pool, and an indoor 25-meter pool with diving boards, a rope swing, and water basketball. The center also features fitness classes, a weight room, and cycling studio.
The Juniper Swim and Fitness Center is located in the beautiful, 22-acre Juniper Park, which offers fitness walking trails around the park, a youth baseball field, four outdoor tennis courts, horseshoe pits, an outside playground and swings, and a picnic area.
It’s common to see beloved dogs swimming in rivers, perched on kayaks, running on trails, and rolling in the snow right alongside their owners. Bend has off-leash dog parks located across the city, with fun water features and separated areas for small dogs. The trails in the city offer complimentary baggies and trash receptacles for easily disposing of waste as well.
There is no shortage of sights to see in and around Bend. Sightsee close by and visit the lava river cave at Newberry National Volcanic Monument or Tumalo State Park. Or, venture farther out to Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, Hosmer Lake, Mount Hood, and more. There’s an endless amount of outdoor experiences to explore.
Not sure where to start? Think about taking a tour! Companies like Wanderlust Tours and the Bend Tour Company provide many different experiences to help you learn more about the area.