The relatively small city of Bend, Oregon is located in a sparsely populated part of the State on the North West Pacific Coast of the USA. With around 60% of the State’s 4 million population living in the Portland Metropolitan Region, Bend’s population of 80,000 is modest yet places it as the fifth largest metropolitan region of Oregon. It sits below the Cascade Mountains in Central Oregon and is the Seat of Deschutes County.
Visitors keen to enjoy the outdoor life and natural environment will certainly find much that will appeal to them by visiting Bend. It is an excellent base, especially because the City also offers plenty in the way of fine cuisine, breweries and local cider to enjoy when the sun goes down. One of its nicknames in fact is ‘’Beer Town, USA.’’
You will need to settle in initially and that means unpacking your bags. Bend can offer everything from top quality resorts to boutique hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation. They are probably better alternatives than renting a condo if you are just staying for up to 5 nights but rent you can if you wish. Doubletree by Hilton, Best Western Premier or River Suites on the Deschutes (River) are just three alternatives.
Ben has a Visitor Center in the heart of the City offering advice on the things that visitors can do during their time in Bend. Here is some advice on how you could spend a typical three days in the City and its beautiful immediate surrounds. Most of the ideas involve your deciding for yourself how much time you can spend before your itinerary demand you move on.
Heading west from Bend there is the Tumalo Falls, almost 100 feet high, on Tumalo Creek about 10 miles from the City. Located within the Deschutes National Forest, they are the most impressive in the Region though there are others including Bridge Creek Falls. The Falls are just a short walk from the small parking lot. You cannot get to the base of the Falls but the climb to get to the top is not especially steep and the reward of a lovely view is worth the effort anyway. You can hike on after the Falls if you wish though you need to be conscious of time if you want to fit everything in over the three days.
This volcanic 9,000 ft mountain is impressive all year round and, in the winter, its north face is a significant ski region. While some of the more famous ski resorts in the Western USA are in Colorado, Mount Bachelor impresses everyone that see it. It is also within Deschutes National Forest which in fact stretches 100 miles along the Cascades. The National Forest receives over 8 million visitors annually with many families enjoying camping, hiking and other activities.
Day One has certainly been a day of fresh air, and on a warm night, that continues with dinner from one of the mobile Food Carts for which Bend is famous. There are several in the City with tables and chairs nearby for diners. Bend’s famous beers are available on tap to wash down your food.
When you are staying in Bend, you are already on a plateau at altitude but one of the sights to see on the second day is Pilot Butte which stands a further 500 feet high. It is a lava dome created by a now extinct volcano. You are still within the city limits when you stand on the summit at a height of just over 4,000 feet. It will take you around 30 minutes to get to this well-known scenic viewpoint from which you can see Mount Bachelor and Mounts Jefferson and Washington as well as the Three Sisters. If it is a really clear day, there is even a chance of seeing Mount Hood almost 130 miles away almost due north.
Lava River Cave
There is Lava Butte close to this cave on the River of the same name. The Butte is a cinder cone over 5,000 feet above sea level (remember you are already at altitude in Bend) formed over 7,000 years ago. The Cave forms part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, one of America’s newest monuments and covering 55,000 acres. It is more than 5,200 feet long with one section the largest continuous cave in the State. Its discovery was in 1889 but archaeologists have found evidence that Native Americans knew of the Cave long before then. It closes in the winter to consider the bats who inhabit the Cave. You can rent a flashlight before you enter, and you will certainly need one, a coat and a comfortable pair of shoes, preferably hiking boots.
This 13 acre park within the city is a nice place to relax after a busy day before heading off for dinner. It is named after Alexander M. Drake who originally owned the land before it opened as a park in 1921. It is in downtown and hosts a number of special events throughout the year.
900 Wall in Wall Street in the heart of Bend is a great place to dine on Day Two. Its style is modern-day American with French and Italian influences. It has been open since 2009 and the menu includes steaks, salmon and oysters but it is vegetarian and vegan friendly. The wine list is impressive and of course there is always the local beer. There is an outdoor seating area on a warm night.
This animal sanctuary in the P-B Ranch just outside Bend is a private, but non-profit making establishment that was founded in 1995. It provides homes for chimpanzees that need help. It tries to create an environment as close to natural conditions as possible even though the animals have been raised by humans either as pets or for the entertainment industry and then discarded. There are three large outdoor enclosures as well as two that are indoors. There is accommodation on site for guests and volunteers and everyone is welcome to make a contribution in some form or another.
High Desert Museum
This Museum set in 135 acres of pine forest opened in 1982 to bring the region, its wildlife and culture together so visitors could learn more about the past and present of the State and its high desert country. Visitors can enjoy exhibits both indoors and out including some wildlife, as well as living history. You can visit and old sawmill and a ranch to see what life was like for the early settlers as well as learn more about the Native Americans who lived in Oregon before those settlers arrived. The wildlife includes bobcats, otters, porcupines, owls and birds of prey.
Old Mill District
Towards the end of your time in Bend, you may want to enjoy some shopping and the Old Mill District is the place for that as well as forms of entertainment. The District runs along the side of the Deschutes River and there is a trail to walk if you have the time. As well as the best shopping in town, there are a 16-screen IMAX theatre, art galleries and a place to rent a bike, and even a tempter; kayaks to take to the river.
Greg’s Grill in Powerhouse Drive within the Old Mill District is a nice place for a final dinner before leaving Bend the next morning. There is a great atmosphere in this American-style restaurant with a varied menu, catering for vegetarians and vegans along the way. There is a nice outdoor seating area with lovely views. Prime rib is a favorite and if you have not already tried it, try a glass of the local cider.
Today’s International Travelers
In recent years, security has become an increasingly important aspect of international travel with the result that it is necessary to comply with national regulations in order to get into the USA.
Some countries are exempted from the strictest regulations and those from Visa Waiver Countries can make an application for ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorızatıon) well in advance of the anticipated date of arrival. It only applies to people coming by air or sea but not overland. The authorization is the only documentation beyond a passport. You can check on the progress of your ESTA application online. If you come from a country not included in the Visa Waiver Countries list, you will need a visa.
Once you have an ESTA USA, you can enter the USA a number of times within the next two years as long as your current passport remains valid. That does not mean you can enter the USA and stay for 2 years however; think 90 days for a single trip. With some many fascinating cities like Bend, you can see a great amount of the USA in that time.