There are few places in the world in which you can spend a morning rock climbing, an afternoon skiing, and an evening filled with your favorite cultural digs. Bend, Oregon can provide the perfect mid-winter getaway for those of us prone to getting waterlogged in the rest of the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a quick list of our favorite places and activities.
Where to play:
-Smith Rock State Park: Located thirty minutes north of Bend, Smith Rock is a haven for hikers, rock climbers, and mountain bikers. Mid-winter temperatures can often be favorable to explore in the sun or the shade, and due to its location in the Cascade’s rain shadow, dry conditions are prevalent.
-A day fee of $5 USD is required for all cars in the parking lot, which can be purchased on site. Yearly passes are also available.
-Stop in at Red Point Climber’s Supply for more information on climbing in the park.
-Be aware of and respect seasonal rapture nesting closures. More information can be found on site or at https://smithrock.com/seasonal-closures/.
-Mt. Bachelor and Dutchman Flat Sno-Park: Drive thirty minutes west of Bend and you’ll find something drastically different from that which lies to the north. Mt. Bachelor is a fully equipped mountain, with 11 lifts and over 1000 meters of vertical relief. If Nordic skiing, ski touring, or split boarding is more your style, the nearby Dutchman Flat Sno-Park has much beautiful terrain for these activities.
-While there is currently no avalanche forecasting for the Oregon Cascades, the Central Oregon Avalanche Association (coavalanche.org) provides some excellent information on the snowpack for those that have relevant training.
-Touring and Nordic skis, as well as split boards, can be rented in various locations in town. Check out Pine Mountain Sports (https://pinemountainsports.com/rentals/winter-rentals/) and Crow's Feet Commons (http://crowsfeetcommons.com/winter-rentals-demos/), both located in downtown Bend.
Where to stay:
-Smith Rock Bivy: Keen to camp in Smith Rock State Park itself? The Bivy is a short walk away from the park’s main trails, and is beautifully scenic. The facilities are relatively new and well maintained. Cooking is only allowed in a central location away from the tent sites, and sleeping in vehicles is prohibited.
-BLM Land: Additional camping can be found on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management or the US Forest Service. A civilized campground, Skull Hollow, offers camping for a rate during the spring, summer, and fall months. The land around Skull Hollow is available for dispersed camping. If choosing to sleep in this land, be sure to adhere to Leave No Trace ethics, follow local rules, and yield to any closures. For more information visit the site below.
-McMenamins Kennedy School: Looking for something cozy in downtown Bend? McMenamins is a neat little establishment that packs in a whole lot of culture. Complete with a soaking pool, live music, movie theatre, and restaurant, it can be a great place to settle down after a day of playing outside.
Where to feast:
-Terrebonne Depot: Fresh off of the trails at Smith Rock? The Terrebonne Depot is less than ten minutes from the park, hosting a nice array of dishes in a pleasant setting.
-Deschutes Public House: This rustic downtown brewpub showcases nearly 20 different Deschutes beers, from classics to limited releases. It has a great selection of basic pub food, including sandwiches, pizza, and soups made from local ingredients. It is located in downtown Bend, and if weather allows it, the views from the patio are spectacular.
-Wild Rose Thai: Featuring a Northern Thai cuisine, Wild Rose has a cozy, eclectic atmosphere that is perfect for almost any occasion. The simple menu easily accommodates vegetarian and vegan diets, and is quite affordable.