Bend, Oregon wasn’t initially on my radar of places to visit while RVing, but it seemed like once we hit the west coast, everyone was talking about it. So we adjusted our route to fit it in and now we’re those people who talk about it all the time! Bend truly has something for everyone wrapped up in a beautifully scenic and sunny package. So if you’re looking for the perfect spot to take your RV, look no further.
Here are 10 reasons why Bend, Oregon is a top RV destination:
1. It’s easy to get on the water
Bend’s most famous river is the Deschutes, which is 252 miles long. So whether you like to fly fish, kayak, stand up paddle board, or surf, there is a section of the river for you. Yes, I said surf. The Bend Whitewater Park in the Old Mill District features a section of the river with a man-made river break that is perfect for river surfing (read more about that here). But if the Deschutes isn’t enough for you, there is also nearby Crooked River and Metolius River.
If you prefer lakes, there are more lakes in the area than I can even begin to name! If you’re looking for a place to rent kayaks, canoes, tubes, or stand up paddle boards, I highly recommend Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. The Deschutes is also right in their backyard, making it extremely convenient and quick to get on the water.
2. Beer. Enough said.
Bend, Oregon isn’t called “Beer Town USA” for nothing. It’s also home to the Bend Ale Trail, the “largest beer trail in the West”. So if you love craft beer, you’ll be a happy camper. My favorite breweries were: Sunriver (great food!), Crux, 10 Barrel, GoodLife, and Bend Brewing Company (go at night as they have an awesome outdoor space with live music).
3. Dog friendly
Bend also wasn’t named “Dog Town U.S.A” by Dog Fancy magazine in 2012 for nothing. With 13 off leash areas in town, including a water park for dogs at the Bob Wenger Memorial off-leash area, plus 51 miles of urban trails, you’re dog is sure to have a good trip too. Many of the breweries and restaurants also allow you to bring your four-legged family members on their patios. So forget doggy day care and bring Fido along! Despite all that activity, he will stay hydrated with all the dog bowls that businesses so kindly place outside on the sidewalks.
4. Great weather
According to Visit Bend, there are 300 sunny days a year! I think sometimes Oregon gets a bad rap for it’s rainy, gloomy weather, but Bend has been called “the sunny side of Oregon”. In fact, it only receives 12 inches of precipitation per year, compared to Portland’s 42 inches. With all four seasons, there’s no bad time to visit. You’ll get warm spring and summer days with cool evenings, beautiful fall foliage along the Deschutes to add to the beauty, and snow that brings skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.
5. Smith Rock State Park
Less than 30 miles away, is what is believed to be the birthplace of modern American sport climbing. The park is 650 acres and the rocks, made up of compressed volcanic ash, are 3000 feet in elevation. Smith Rock is ideal for all climbing abilities or is also just a great place for a hike or trail run.
6. Events and festivals galore
There is something fun going on every single week in Bend. From weekly meet-ups and art walks to farmers markets to music and beer festivals. These events are year round too. There was even a CrossFit competition going on while I was there. To view all of Bend’s upcoming events, check out Visit Bend’s events calendar.
7. Small town, local vibe
One of my favorite things about Bend, Oregon was the small town community feel that you pick up almost immediately. Not only are the locals friendly but they are very prideful and tight knit. There are many locally owned restaurants and boutiques and a strong support for local artists, farmers, small businesses, and other talents. It’s no wonder everyone wants to move to Bend!
8. Mountains to climb…or ski
There are mountains in every direction you look in Bend. The Cascade Mountains stretch through Central Oregon, putting Mt. Bachelor, Oregon’s second most popular ski resort, only 21 miles from Bend. Other popular mountains are the “Three Sisters”, a trio of mountains located in the Deschutes National Forest, about 25 miles west of town. Not only do these mountains set a beautiful backdrop to look at while exploring the town, but they offer even more recreational activities.
There are obviously numerous hikes all within 30-60 minutes of Bend. The most popular hike, according to All Trails, and my personal favorite, is Tumalo Falls. You also have the option to drive right to the falls, if you aren’t up for the hike. There are trails for every hiking level and breathtaking views of forest, alpine lakes, waterfalls, and wildflowers. In the winter, the activity in Bend shifts from the rivers and lakes to the mountains. You can ski, snowboard, snowshoe, snowmobile, tube, and ice skate. Need I say more about Bend’s year round outdoor activities?
9. Good food
I was pleasantly surprised by the culinary scene in Bend, despite it’s size. Whatever your taste is (literally), it’s not hard to find a good meal. There’s food trucks at almost every brewery and world-class dining, mixed in with several local restaurants of all food types. There are even vegetarian and gluten-free options. Downtown Bend’s website offers a great list of restaurants to try.
10. Downtown scene
Don’t get too wrapped up in the outdoor activities that you miss out on Bend’s adorably quaint yet lively and vibrant downtown scene. It’s packed full of the delicious restaurants mentioned above with trendy atmospheres and appealing patios. While you’re down there, you’ll see Cowboy Ryan offering up carriage rides. He and his horse Roman will chauffeur you around the area and give you some cool history too.
You don’t just stay downtown, but you also get to ride past the beautiful Mirror Pond and into a nearby neighborhood with beautiful homes. It’s a fun way to tour the area, but I also enjoyed strolling along the sidewalks too.
Well if those 10 reasons don’t convince you to start planning a trip to Bend, Oregon, I don’t know what will. Perhaps this quote from a Sunset article will help as well.
“Whoever visits bend, moves to Bend,” people warned. So frequently, in fact, I took it to be the official motto of this always sunny central Oregon playground ― a blessedly bipolar high-desert home base, where you can trail-run along the rushing Deschutes River in the morning and hit the snowy slopes of Mt. Bachelor in the afternoon. My kind of town.
So, consider yourself warned because you WILL fall in love with Bend, Oregon.
Need an RV rental to take to Bend, Oregon?
Check out the Outdoorsy’s rentals available in the area, here.
Need a place to park the RV for your visit in Bend?
Consider Bend-Sunriver RV Campground just 30 minutes from Bend in beautiful Sunriver. They offer spacious spots along with awesome amenities and activities, including 2 pools, a hot tub, a mini-golf course, and various equipment rentals. Also, the Little Deschutes River runs right through the campground, which allows you to get on the water steps from your RV.
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