ORIGIN. Senior Travel Editor, Amanda Stuermer
Women In the Wild Series
Not that long ago, Bend, Oregon, was a sleepy mill town, one of Portland’s very distant cousins twice removed. Today, Bend has transformed itself into an outdoor mecca that attracts multi-sport athletes, along with those who just want to live the lifestyle that inevitably includes a four-wheel drive decked out with bike, kayak, and ski racks.
Only 30 minutes from downtown Bend is a 9,068' stratovolcano with 4,300+ skiable acres, 3,365 feet of vertical drop, 121 unique runs, and 16 terrain parks. There’s also a Nordic Center with 21 groomed trails covering 56 kilometers of pristine alpine country. Bonus: in summer, Mt. Bachelor offers a bike park, zip line, and scenic chairlift rides.
Smith Rock State Park
Known as the birthplace of sport climbing in the United States. Located only 26 miles from Bend, the park offers 2,000 routes ranging from fourth class to 5.14. Not ready to take on renowned routes like Monkey Face, Mesa Verde Wall, or the Dihedrals? No worries, opt for one of the hiking trails that offer well-earned scenic views. Misery Ridge is a fav, despite the name.
The Deschutes River
A river runs through it, literally. The Deschutes River flows through the very heart of Bend, offering up a plethora of water activities, including tubing, paddle-boarding, rafting, kayaking, and surfing. Yes, we said surfing. The Bend Whitewater Park is one of the premier manmade river-surfing waves in the country. Catch a wave or simply float by and catch a glimpse of those who do.
Bend is known for its exceptional mountain biking, and Phil’s Trail, just six miles from town, is known to be one of the most popular mountain biking trailheads in the entire Pacific Northwest. Phil’s Trail is a 12.4-mile out-and-back trail that serves up quintessential twist-and-turn-through-pine-trees mountain biking. Spring through late fall is the best time to visit.
Broken Top Trail
The hiking options in Bend are endless. From panoramic alpine views to crystal-clear lakes, breathtaking waterfalls to molten lavascapes, Bend has it all. If we had to choose just one (which is an impossible ask), it would have to be Broken Top Trail to No Name Lake. It’s a 5.5-mile out-and-back with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Once you reach the shores of No Name Lake, take a moment to drink it all in (along with plenty of water: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate): the impossibly blue water and the jagged volcanic rock towering overhead. Worth every step.
The year-round sunshine and high desert landscape make Bend a trail runner’s dream come true. How many towns can boast of 51 miles of maintained in-town trails (most alongside the aforementioned Deschutes River)? If you prefer to hit the trails outta town, Shevlin Park offers 647 acres of diverse old growth forest with Tumalo Creek running through its center, and the Green Lakes Trail, off the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, offers a six-mile gentle climb with waterfalls, lava, and wildflowers to keep you going.