Frequently appearing on top ten lists as an epicenter for outdoor sports and activities, Bend offers a cornucopia of experiences in the great outdoors.
Between pedal-powered tours, adrenaline-fueled white water exploration, climbing mountains to great heights, family friendly excursions and epic high desert scenery, the center of Oregon literally has an outdoor adventure for every taste and interest, with endless possibilities. An important thing to remember when planning your trip: be sure to call tour companies in advance and plan for the possibility of inclement weather. It’s just a reality of the area that we all have to navigate.
Brave a leap from one of the US's highest bungee jumping platforms
Since 2015 Central Oregon Bungee Adventures has offered stunning views of the Crooked River Gorge (carved through columnar basalt) and the snowcapped cascade mountains to patrons as they jump off the towering high bridge at Peter Skene Ogden State Park. With a 300ft-high platform, and a 250ft jump, CO Bungee Adventures operates the tallest commercial bungee drop in North America. Rain or shine, strap in for the free fall of your life.
Hike or run the many trails in and around Bend
With more than 50 miles of maintained in-town trails, the prospect of a visit to Bend will give hikers and runners an added spring in their step. These mighty routes are punctuated with views of waterfalls, wildflowers, and the intermittent sights and sounds of the Deschutes. Eleven miles of dirt paths run adjacent to the river – they’re popular but not overly crowded, and they’re varied enough to keep things interesting. Trails at Sawyer Park and Farewell Bend receive a lot of publicity, but the network at Shevlin Park and the Larkspur Trail are also fan-favorites and good bets for more varied terrain.
Experience the best climbing routes in the world at Smith Rock State Park
You’ll find Smith Rock State Park 25 miles northeast of Bend. This is the birthplace of modern American sport climbing featuring some of the best climbing routes in the world. There are thousands to choose from, but many climbers come for the Moons of Pluto, a classic 4-star route on the Mesa Verde Wall, and the Monkey Face tower. Don’t worry if you’re not a pro – routes range from novice to hardcore.
She Moves Mountains is a climbing guide service that empowers women through exposure to nature and supports them to achieve new things. Based at Smith Rock State Park, owner/operator/guide, Lizzy VanPatten, offers everything from introductory courses to leading traditional climbing, crack climbing, clinics in anchor building, rappelling and more. For a low-key, healing and supportive experience, check out VanPatten’s climbing and yoga retreats. Smith Rock Climbing Guides and Chockstone Climbing Guides also offer local climbing services.
Go mountain biking on exhilarating trails
You'll want to bring your mountain bike to Bend, or rent one from one of many bike shops. Use the Bend Trails website to find a route to tackle or check out the old reliables: Phil's Trail, Maston or Cline Butte. If you need a shuttle or instruction, book a ride or class with Cog Wild Bicycle Tours. For a stellar tune up, last-minute parts or apparel, Pine Mountain Sports or Crows Feet Commons are two great bike shops to visit, among a sea of many. To escape the crowds, head east to Lookout Mountain or for a bikepacking adventure, the Ochoco Overlander is Central Oregon’s premier event. Pine Mountain Sports' comprehensive page of information on mountain biking is a great resource for those looking for more information. Want to race? Myriad mountain bike races, such as the Oregon 24/12 and the High Cascades 100, are hosted in Bend yearly.
From skiing to ziplining, there are year-round activities on Mt Bachelor
Mt Bachelor offers activities year round to outdoor sports enthusiasts. In the winter – you guessed it – this is major skiing and snowboarding terrain. Numerous terrain parks, natural features like bowls and chutes and eleven chairlifts keep singles, couples and families coming back season after season. Whether you're a total beginner or a seasoned skier, you'll find ski runs to suit your level here, as well as snowsports rentals and group or private lessons. For differently abled visitors, Oregon Adaptive Sports runs lessons using adaptive equipment to suit the user. The Nordic Center has 35 miles (56km) of groomed terrain, and there are even sled dog rides on the Oregon Trail of Dreams. In summer, Mount Bachelor’s Downhill Bike Park and Zipline Tour are popular activities.
Take a tour through the lava fields in an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV)
Breeze through the lava fields of Bend’s Badlands at high speed on an ATV. Explore the breathtaking volcanic landscapes that surround Sunriver. Wind through ancient lava flows on the flanks of Newberry Caldera National Volcanic Monument. Get your fill of high desert mountains, cinder cone volcanoes, thrilling roller-coaster-style riding trails on majestic conifer National Forest land, all up-close-and-personal from the secure seat of an ATV. Hold on tight with Outriders Northwest, which runs unforgettable off-road tours. For a self-guided drive, check out 4-wheel rentals at Octane Rental Company.
Bend has plenty of great lakes and rivers for water sports
Rafting, kayaking and paddleboarding on lakes and rivers are beloved Central Oregon pastimes. To get your adrenaline pumping and wash off the stress of everyday life, head out on the Deschutes River for a guided paddle raft trip with Sun Country Tours or Seventh Mountain River Company. For a full day or multi-day trip, go a little further north to Maupin, and launch on the Lower Deschutes River with Nate’s Rogue Adventures. To kick it down a notch, Tumalo Creek can set you up with a kayak, paddleboard or canoe rental. Launch from the back door and explore the urban corridor of the Deschutes River, which winds through the heart of Bend. Adventurers looking for a more mellow experience should take a relaxing innertube ride down the Deschutes River with Bend Park & Float. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, take your Tumalo Creek kayak or paddleboard rental out to Cascades Lakes Highway and choose between Sparks, Elk or Devil’s Lakes, and more. Paulina and East Lakes in Newberry Caldera are also stellar paddle choices.
Go fly-fishing in the Deschutes River
As well as being an excellent place to paddle, the Deschutes River is equally excellent for fly-fishing. Anglers come to Bend year-round for trout and steelhead, and to take advantage of the many creeks and streams rippling down from the headwaters in the Cascade Mountains on their way to the Columbia River. In all, there are more than 250 miles of fishable waters in the Deschutes River.
Relax with a cold beer in the outdoor spaces at Bend's best microbreweries
After a day on the trail exploring, visitors get pretty thirsty and there’s no better way to quench the cotton mouth than enjoying a crisp beer in the sun. Of all the microbreweries, Bend Brewing Company might have the best shaded riverside backyard. Centrally located in the Box Factory, Immersion Brewing could be runner-up for outdoor seating, possibly tied with Boneyard Beer on Division, with its wrap-around patio. Sunriver Brewing Co, with locations in Sunriver and Bend, both have excellent outdoor spaces too. All the breweries serve gourmet pub fare to satisfy a post-outdoor sports growling tummy.