Bend Oregon Blog | The Bend Buzz by Visit Bend
It’s been three months since I wrote about Eclipse 2017, and now we’re mere days from the big event on August 21, 2017.
Some folks are giddy as chipmunks in a tub of popcorn. Others are freaking out about clogged roadways, water shortages, and the question of where we’re going to put the one million people expected to arrive in Oregon over the next few days.
About a quarter of those visitors will head for Central Oregon, so here’s what you should know about Bend travel as we approach the big day.
DO remember that patience is key. We’ll have lots of bodies in town, and everyone’s excited about this super-unique cosmic phenomenon. Treat your fellow travelers with kindness and courtesy, and they’ll do the same for you.
DON’T panic. Yes, some grocery store shelves are a bit bare, and traffic is going to be wonky for a few days. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s is a small price to pay for enjoying a full solar eclipse in one of the most scenic spots on earth.
DO get your hands on a good pair of eclipse glasses. There have been reports of fake ones showing up on Amazon, so if that’s where you got yours, double-check the source. If you’re in doubt, stop by the Bend Visitor Center to grab a pair.
DON’T wear eclipse glasses while driving. Uh, this should go without saying, since you can’t see a darn thing when you’re wearing them.
DO plan ahead. While the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will have incident response teams staged along roadways to keep cars moving and help those in distress, the high volume of vehicles means any trip—no matter which day you’re traveling or where you’re headed—will take longer than normal. Keep plenty of food, water, and medications in your car, and have a plan for tending to your (ahem) bathroom needs. Note: Your plan should not include peeing out the car window.
DON’T make the trip to Central Oregon if you haven’t reserved lodging in advance. Campsites, hotel rooms, vacation rentals, and yurts have been booked for years, so your odds of finding last-minute eclipse accommodations are about the same as my odds of turning into a rainbow trout and spawning in the Deschutes.
DO be cautious if you’re camping in Central Oregon’s great outdoors. There’s currently a campfire ban covering all public and private lands across Central Oregon, and with our region drier than a mouthful of sand, even a tiny spark from your car or cigarette could cause thousands of acres to go up in flames. Be wary of wild animals and conscious of leave-no-trace ethics. Pack your 10 essentials to ensure you stay safe no matter where you wander.
DON’T plan to travel on Monday. If your game plan is to wake up Monday morning and drive to Madras to experience totality at 10 a.m., you need a different game plan. Traffic will be bumper to bumper on two-lane highways, and even if you’re staying in Bend or Sunriver, you’re unlikely to reach your destination before the big event. If a city on the line of totality is your heart’s desire, you’ll need to start your journey sooner.
DO make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. Dragging mufflers and catalytic converters have sparked some of Central Oregon’s worst wildfires. It’s also crucial to fuel up whenever you get the chance. Lines at gas stations have been long all week, with some stations running out of fuel (though tanker trucks are still arriving daily to replenish the stock). The demand for fuel will intensive as more people roll into town, so get gas when you can and check your other fluids while you’re at it.
DON’T stop on the highway or on the shoulder of the road. The eclipse is expected to be Oregon’s biggest traffic event in history, so it’s crucial to keep vehicles moving. The aforementioned ODOT incident response vehicles will be helping with this, offering to push, pull, or drag stranded vehicles off the road. They’ll also have basic first aid supplies in case the need arises. Keep in mind that the highway hits temps of 116-degrees Celsius in the sun, so it’s really not a fun place to hang out anyway.
DO keep an eye on ODOT’s website, which has road cams, eclipse updates, and more. Their Twitter feed will have up-to-the-minute info about traffic incidents and road conditions across the state, as will their trip check hotline at 511. There’s also a statewide, non-emergency hotline that allows you to ask questions about eclipse viewing, safety, traffic, road closures, and more. The number for that is 211, or you can text “eclipse” to 898211. The 211 hotline will operate August 16 through August 23.
DON’T plan to skedaddle out of Central Oregon the instant the eclipse is over. A recent survey of 1,430 travelers journeying to the area for the eclipse found that arrival dates are staggered fairly evenly over the six days leading up to the eclipse, but nearly half of visitors plan to leave Monday. That’s an awful lot of traffic to fight, and there’s really no need—just chill in Bend for a few more days of floating, hiking, biking, and savoring everything the beautiful high desert has to offer!
It probably won’t surprise you to hear Bend’s forests are full of critters.
But some are shocked to learn there are a few critters that could put a crimp in your vacation plans by, say . . . eating you.
Don’t freak. In 43 years as an outdoorsy Oregonian, I’ve never crossed paths with any of them. In fact, sightings of these three creatures are rare, and actual confrontations are rarer still.
Nevertheless, it pays to be cautious. With recent cougar sightings on the upper-traverse of Southfork, a bear sighting on Tumalo Creek, and the constant presence of the Northern Pacific Rattlesnake in the high desert, I’d like to share a few things you should know about each of these oft-misunderstood creatures.
What to know about cougars
Before I launch into all the scary-sounding stuff, it’s important to note that according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, there has never been a recorded cougar attack on a human in Oregon history. Not one.
Nevertheless, it’s smart to be educated when you’re venturing into the wilderness.
Cougars are elusive and solitary predators, and it’s estimated there are 6,500-6,800 of them statewide. With the average male staking claim to a territory of up to 100 square miles, they’re obviously cruising around Central Oregon.
While most people never see a cougar, it’s likely one has spotted you if you’re a frequent explorer in Central Oregon’s wilderness. Here’s what to keep in mind when it comes to these big cats:
- Keep dogs leashed and small children in sight when hiking in cougar country.
- Avoid jogging or trail riding in low light conditions and in bushy areas where cougars hunt.
- Watch for cougar signs, including tracks, droppings, scratched trees, and food caches.
- Never hike alone, and carry a walking stick that can be used as a weapon if needed.
- Talk, sing, or make some other kind of noise while hiking to reduce your odds of surprising a cougar.
- If you encounter a cougar, respond by making yourself look as large as possible. Hold your jacket open, wave a stick around, make eye contact, do anything you can to look big and scary and threatening. Whatever you do, don’t bend down and don’t run—it’ll trigger the cougar’s chase instinct.
- Unlike bears (we’ll get to them in a second) cougars do not “bluff charge.” Playing dead is never recommended if a cougar charges. Fight back, focusing your attack on the cougar’s face and eyes.
The legend is true. There’s another kind of cougar in Bend, just like in any town where attractive young men make easy prey for women of a certain age.
If you’re looking to be caught by one, wine bars are a good bet. Bend has several amazing ones, including Portello WineCafé and Sip Wine Bar. Even if you don’t spot human cougars there, both places make excellent spots to go for a tasty glass of wine and some nibbles. Sip has ladies’ night every Wednesday with $1 off everything from 4- close, while Portello has wine flight weekends every Saturday and Sunday night.
What to know about bears
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon is home to about 25,000-30,000 black bears (many of which are not actually black, but cinnamon or brown in color).
Plenty of them make their homes in wilderness areas surrounding Bend, so here’s what you should know if you’re hiking, fishing, or camping in bear country:
- Keep campsites clean and sleep at least 100 yards from cooking and eating areas.
- Keep dogs on leashes or in cars.
- Never, ever pick up a bear cub. If you’re concerned it’s been abandoned, contact the Forest Service or Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, but odds are good the mama is nearby watching. And it goes without saying you should never get between a mama and her cubs.
- Use flashlights at night and don’t camp or hike alone.
- Make noise when hiking so you don’t surprise a bear. Some people wear bear bells, while others swear by singing or talking to create noise that alerts bears of a human presence. It wouldn’t hurt to carry bear spray if you’re venturing deep into the wilderness.
- If you see a bear, pick up small children immediately. Remain calm and take steps to identify yourself as human and not a prey animal. Speak calmly and stand still, but slowly wave your arms.
- If the bear comes closer or stands on its hind legs, it’s likely curious and not threatening. Keep speaking in low tones and do not scream or make any sudden movements. Never imitate bear sounds or make a high-pitched screech.
- If the bear is stationary, move away slowly and sideways. This allows you to keep an eye on the bear and avoid tripping. Do not run, and if the bear follows, stop and hold your ground. Always leave the bear an escape route.
He may look like a bear, but the massive, shaggy creature found at NW Home Interiors is actually Buddy.
He’s a friendly Burmese Mountain dog who hangs out in the showroom at this fabulous furniture boutique in Downtown Bend.
He supervised my purchase of a massive king bed frame made from repurposed barn wood, so I can assure you his taste is quite exquisite.
What to know about rattlesnakes
While rattlesnakes are common in the high desert, there are a few telling statistics when it comes to snakebites. Roughly 90-percent of victims are male, 50-80 percent of bites are to the hand, and at least half the victims were intoxicated at the time of the bite.
In other words, if you’re drunk and handling a snake on purpose, it kinda ups your odds of snakebite.
But if you’re cautious, alert, and not trying to pet one, your odds of an unpleasant encounter with a rattler are actually quite slim. Snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them. Really.
A few tips to help you stay safe in areas where rattlesnakes are found:
- While bears and cougars are most often found in forested areas, rattlesnakes prefer Central Oregon’s more desert-like areas like Smith Rock and the Crooked River Grassland areas. Be especially alert when hiking in these areas, but if you’re hiking above 6,000 feet or meandering around in the city, you can probably chill.
- Since they’re coldblooded animals, snakes hibernate in winter and come out when the sun shines to absorb heat from rocks and the ground. That means you’re most likely to find them sunbathing in rocky, brushy areas, especially near a water source.
- Be especially cautious about where you’re putting your hands and feet when scrambling along rock ledges.
- If you encounter a rattlesnake, move away. It wants to avoid you as much as you want to avoid it. If it starts rattling, it means you’re too close, so back the heck away. The snake’s very last defensive move is to strike, so don’t give it any reason to do that. Snakes aren’t aggressive by nature—they just want to avoid being stepped on.
- If you hear a rattler but you’re not sure where it is, stay calm and locate the direction of the rattle. Do not panic or you risk being bitten when you freak the bleep out and stumble over it.
- Snakebites are rare, but they do happen. What you should NOT do is tie a tourniquet around the affected area, cut the wound, or suck out the venom. There’s also no need to kill the snake. Instead, stay calm and summon medical help. If you’re in a group, send someone else to get a ranger or call 911. Getting to a medical facility quickly is important so a professional can determine how much venom (if any—about 25% of rattlesnake bites are dry) was injected and which type of antivenin is needed.
Often mistaken for rattlesnakes are harmless bull snakes, which are also known as gopher snakes. Compounding the problem, bull snakes like to imitate rattlesnakes by shaking their tails as a defense mechanism.
Your first cue that you might be looking at a bull snake would be the lack of a rattle on its tail. If there’s no rattle, check out the body. Though they have similar patterns, bull snakes are usually cream or pale yellow with black or brown markings, while rattlesnakes are much darker. Also, rattlesnakes have triangular-shaped heads, while the bull snake’s head is usually the same size and shape as its upper body.
Other things mistaken for rattlesnakes in Central Oregon include discarded pieces of rope, cables, and bike inner tubes. Instead of running from them, how about doing a kindness to our environment (not to mention your fellow hikers) and picking up any discarded rubbish you might spot on the trails? For more Visit Like a Local tips, go here.
Now get out there and enjoy Bend!
Over dinner a few nights ago, my husband got out his calendar and informed the kids that their summer vacation is officially at its midpoint.
Even for those of us past the days of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic, that’s a wakeup call. How can that be? There’s still so much to see and do and drink and explore in Bend before cold temps set in and our days get shorter.
It’s time to get serious, guys. Here are four things we should all pledge to enjoy for the second half of summer 2017.
Float the river
Can I confess something? Even though I live mere miles from the put-in point for floating the Deschutes River, and even though I recently wrote this blog post detailing everything you need to know about floating the Deschutes River, I have yet to do it this summer. Not once.
My excuse is that I’m usually on my standup paddleboard instead, but that’s really not the same thing as floating lazily down the river in an inner tube with the sun on my shoulders and my backside in the water.
The crowds aren’t an excuse either (though I’ve heard that from pals who’ve been avoiding the river on weekends). One solution is to hit the river on weekdays, preferably earlier in the day or later in the afternoon. You can also avoid parking and traffic hassles by using the Ride the River shuttle.
Head out for a hike
I have my tried-and-true favorite hikes I do regularly, like Pilot Butte, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, Alder Springs Trail, the Deschutes River Trail, and several others I rounded up in this blog post on family-friendly hikes.
But summer is the best time to explore new terrain, and there’s plenty of it here, even for those of us who’ve spent most of our lives hiking around Bend.
Rumor has it that popular areas like the trails around Sparks Lake and Green Lake are packed to the gills this summer, and I won’t lie—that’s a deterrent for people (*raises hand*) who venture into the wilderness to escape crowds.
But here’s the lovely thing about the High Cascade Lakes—there are lots of them. If you start at Todd Lake and find the parking lot full, it’s a ten minute drive to Devils Lake. If you strike out there, try Hosmer or Elk Lake or one of dozens of other little lakes that require a short hike to reach (which means you’re more likely to find solitude when you get there).
There’s plenty of room for everyone, and no need to get frustrated or make your own parking space on the fragile forest floor.
For a great map and tips on where to go as you head up the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, stop by the Cascade Welcome Station, which is operated by the Forest Service and located near milepost seven on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.
Hit the hottest events
Some of summer’s best events happen in the second half of summer, and that’s certainly the case in 2017.
The Les Schwab Amphitheater still has several great shows remaining this season, including Steve Miller Band (this Friday, August 5), Michael Franti on September 8, and Modest Mouse on September 22. As of Thursday, August 3, tickets are still available for all three shows.
On August 18 and 19, Shakespeare in the Park will present Titus Andronicus in beautiful Drake Park, with VIP tickets available for those who want to eat, drink, and be merry in style.
Personally, I’m super-jazzed the powers-that-be scheduled this year’s Bend Brewfest for my birthday weekend. August 10-12 at the Les Schwab Amphitheater will be craft beer bliss with 60+ breweries pouring more than 200 different craft beers and ciders. Pro tip: Get your hands on the program ahead of time in The Bulletin or The Source and mark the beers you most want to try so you can make a beeline for those booths before the taps run out.
Speaking of beer, the Little Woody Barrel-Aged Beer & Whiskey Fest is slated for September 1-2 this year, so make sure your calendar is marked accordingly if you love barrel-aged beer.
For families, the popular Munch & Music concert series will come to a close August 10 with Pigs on the Wing, which means the Munch & Movies series will kick off August 19 and continue through September 9 with fabulous films shown in scenic Compass Park.
One of my favorite things about the warmer months in Bend is the chance to enjoy meals in Bend’s great outdoors.
Some of my summertime faves include Crux Fermentation Project, the cozy courtyard at Jackalope Grill, the sunny patio at McKay Cottage (one of my favorite breakfast spots!), and the riverfront deck at Currents at the Riverhouse.
And speaking of riverfront dining, make sure you scope out my roundup of 11 great spots for riverfront dining in Bend.
Now get out there and enjoy the rest of summer!
Every week, I hear from guest bloggers asking for a chance to write for the Bend Buzz Blog, and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve agreed in the last seven years.
There has to be an extra-special reason for it—like, say, the convergence of my trip to Orlando for the Romance Writers of America national conference (part of my not-so-secret life outside Visit Bend) and the launch of an awesome new Bend business that piqued my interest.
That’s where Zilaida Salgueiro comes in. She’s the founder of Locals Compass, which is a new business that creates personalized travel itineraries for Bend visitors who want to experience Bend like a local. Customers choose a local expert whose interests align with their traveling style and interests, then answer a few questions that will help the local design the perfect itinerary for them.
Naturally, it seemed like a good chance to ask Zilaida what her perfect day in Bend might look like. Here’s what she had to say…
Off to a great start
I’d start my day with breakfast at La Magie Bakery and Cafe. Now that I live downtown, I love that I’m a short walk away from an awesome breakfast.
I also love the coziness of their decor and portion sizes. If I know I’ll be having dinner at a friend’s house later that day, I like buying some of their pastries to bring for dessert.
It’s the simple things in life
Looney Bean is one of the places that made me fall in love with Bend during my first visit back in April 2015. That’s why a perfect day in Bend must include paying them a visit. My go to drink is their Dirty Hippie (chai latte with a shot of espresso).
Once I have my order in hand, I head over to their lawn area in the back, find a chair and place it facing the water, sit back and, either listen to some good music (currently on a Happy Folk kick on Spotify), or read a good book. Life moves fast but I always feel it slow down while I’m there.
For lunch, I’m off to Wild Rose Thai! It is the first place in Bend that recognizes me as a regular. I guess paying them a visit almost weekly would accomplish that.
My go-to for lunch is their Kaho Soi Curry (spicy level 2, please!). I’ve honestly lost count of how many people I’ve told about this place or have taken with me for either lunch or dinner. If you catch me there for dinner I’m probably enjoying their Kaw Pad Boo (stir fried jasmine rice with Dungeness crab meat, yum).
Work it (out)
Now that my belly is full, it’s time to work off some calories with a hike. If I feel like a challenge, my go to is a trip to Smith Rock to complete Misery Ridge. If I want a less calorie-burning experience (read, less challenging), I head over to Pilot Butte or Shevlin Park.
One of my goals for this year is to complete the #52HikeChallenge (52 hikes within one year), which should be achievable living in Bend! I tend to enjoy hikes with amazing views the most, so I’m excited to tackle Black Butte and others before summer comes to an end.
Dinner and a show
No matter the season, I’ve found it to be a great place to fully grasp some of the best things that Bend has to offer: craft beer, good food, and the great outdoors.
There are certain things that make it on most visitors’ summer bucket list: Go hiking, catch an outdoor concert, then set out for a leisurely river float before ending your evening with a cold pint along the Bend Ale Trail.
They’re all pretty simple activities you can probably master all by yourself.
But there are special ways to take your enjoyment to the next level (not to mention leaving Bend’s special places even better than you found them). Here’s how to do it.
Head out for a hike
You’re already familiar with the concept of lacing up your shoes and putting one foot in front of the other, so you’ve nailed the first part of hiking.
Knowing where to hike is the second part of the equation. Spots like Pilot Butte and the Deschutes River Trail make awesome in-town options with minimal drive time.
Tumalo Falls is just a short drive away (though you’ll want to get there early to dodge crowds and find a parking spot).
For more ideas on where to hike around Central Oregon, check out this post.
How to do it better:
Okay, so let’s say you arrive at your chosen trailhead and find the parking lot full. It’s not uncommon this time of year, and what you don’t want to do is get frustrated and smash out your own parking spot atop delicate saplings and the fragile forest floor. Instead, have a backup plan for an alternate hike nearby. There are plenty to choose from, and it’s better for everyone if we all spread out. A great guidebook can help you get a good list going.
Next, make sure your pack is loaded with the essentials: No earth-harming disposable plastic bottles for you, no sir! You’ve got your reusable Hydro Flask tucked in your pack (we sell ‘em at the Visitor Center if you need one). You’ve also got your trusty map and the rest of your ten essentials tucked in your pack.
After you set out, make sure you stick to marked trails to help protect our forest areas. Follow Leave No Trace ethics while you’re out and about, and please, please don’t litter.
Want extra bonus points? Carry a small trash bag in your pack and pick up litter left behind by hikers less conscientious than you. Now that’s how you Visit Like a Local!
Float the river
No activity represents the quintessential Bend experience more than floating the river on a warm summer day. All you really need is a floatation device, a willingness to get a little wet, and a plan for getting back to your car at the end. You can learn everything you’ll need to know in this blog post.
How to do it better:
I know it looks crazy-fun to ride a giant inflatable swan down the Deschutes, but flimsy pool toys can get chewed up in the Passageway Channel of the Bend Whitewater Park. Since popped floaties create gobs of garbage at the takeout point, you should either plan on renting a more durable tube, or simply hoof it along the portage path around the Passageway and put in on the other side.
Next, take extra care with the footwear you choose. Flip-flops might protect the bottoms of your feet on the walk back to your car, but they also flop right off in the water or on the muddy river bottom. The result? You’re without shoes, and the river ends up clogged with them. Instead, choose sturdy water shoes like Tevas or Keens.
And speaking of your car, there’s no need to do the dual-car shuffle between your starting point and end point. Just buy a pass for the Ride the River Shuttle and leave the driving to someone else!
Catch a concert
Last year, Travel + Leisure named the Les Schwab Amphitheater one of America’s coolest music venues, so it’s no surprise if catching a concert there is on your summer bucket list.
Here are the bare basics you should know: Buy tickets early, since some shows sell out. Each concert has different rules for what you can bring, so go here to learn if your concert allows low-backed chairs and blankets or if those are a no-go for your show.
Empty water bottles are cool (remember those reusable Hydro Flasks we talked about earlier?) but no outside food or beverages are allowed. Oh, and plan for temperature shifts—even if it’s 90-degrees at the start of a show, you may need a jacket by the end.
How to do it better:
With help from The Broomsmen, the Les Schwab Amphitheater has gotten serious about reducing waste at concerts. The Take Note Initiative seeks to make Les Schwab a more sustainable venue by eliminating single-use plastic bottles and making sure vendors use 100% compostable cups, plates, and utensils. So what does this mean for your concert experience?
For one, it means you can buy a limited-edition Silipint for beer, cider, wine, or cocktails for just $20. Your first beverage is included in the price, and you get $1 off all subsequent beverages. Not only can you use it from one season to the next, but the thing glows in the dark. How cool is that?
Want to be an extra-super-duper informed consumer of live music? Check out this blog post featuring 15 tips for concert-going at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
Hit the Bend Ale Trail
The number of breweries in Bend seems to climb daily, and there are currently 15 on the Bend Ale Trail. That means you can grab a printed passport or download the free app to gather stamps as you sip your way around the trail of suds.
Before setting out, peruse the list of Bend Ale Trail breweries here, and get a feel for which one(s) you want to hit. Choosing one close to your hotel or vacation rental will make it easy for you to walk from brewery to brewery. Since most of them post current tap lists online, you can browse options beforehand to get a feel for what you’d like to try.
How to do it better:
The first rule of Fight Club is . . . wait, no. Wrong blog post.
The first rule of the Bend Ale Trail is NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE. Seriously. We have Uber, Lyft, taxis, guided tours, horse-drawn carriages, and a zillion other options to keep you alive and out of jail. Go here to learn more. As a matter of fact, read that entire blog post, since it has oodles of tips about navigating the nation’s most awesome trail of beer.
Chief among them: Pace yourself. Drink lots of water. Remember that you don’t have to drink a drop of alcohol to gather passport stamps and earn prizes (seriously—no purchase necessary). Eat hearty snacks or meals at the breweries not just because it’ll help absorb alcohol, but because the food is really freakin’ awesome.
And did I mention the part about not drinking and driving?
Is there anything as magical as an outdoor concert with sunshine on your bare arms and a warm breeze carrying a melody out over the sparkling river?
Bend’s summer months are brimming with opportunities to enjoy music in the great outdoors, and here are 7 of my favorites.
Ticketed concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater
Let’s start with the big dog, the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The venue has attracted some pretty huge talent over the years, including the Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, Phish, Willie Nelson, and Paul Simon.
The 2017 lineup has already included tons of great shows, with more on the horizon from Slightly Stoopid, Jack Johnson (sold out—sorry!), the Avett Brothers, Diana Krall, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Modest Mouse. Check the Les Schwab Amphitheater for dates, ticketing info, and pricing.
And that doesn’t even include all the awesome Free Summer Sunday Concerts happening through mid-July (more on that later!)
Make sure you bring a low-backed chair and plan on arriving a bit early to snag a good spot. You can buy food and drinks at the venue, as well as a reusable, limited-edition Silipint for beer, cider, wine, or cocktails for $20. Your first beverage is included in the price, and you get $1 off all subsequent beverages.
For more tips on attending shows at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, check out this post from last year.
Clear Summer Nights at the Athletic Club of Bend
A smaller, more intimate venue than Les Schwab, the Athletic Club of Bend sounds like an odd spot for a concert series. But the Clear Summer Nights Series attracts some surprisingly big and well-known talent. (For the record, last year’s Lord Huron/Trampled by Turtles show topped my personal list of favorite shows of the 2016 season, and that’s coming from someone who attended more than two dozen concerts last summer).
UB40 kicked off the series earlier this week, but there’s plenty more coming. In 2017, we’ll have the John Butler Trio on September 10, Phillip Phillips September 19, and The Shins September 26.
One cool perk at this venue is the chance to purchase dinner tickets so you get a killer meal and even a glass of wine to enjoy with the show. The small size of the venue means many shows sell out, so act quickly if any of those names caught your eye.
Munch and Music
Bend’s free music scene is surprisingly awesome for a town this size, and the crown jewel of it all is Munch and Music.
Enjoying its twenty-seventh anniversary in 2017, the series takes place Thursday evenings in Drake Park and is open to all ages free of charge. You’ll pay for food and drinks at the plentiful food booths, or you’re welcome to bring a picnic supper (though no outside alcohol is allowed into the venue). Dogs are also not allowed at the shows, but they’re very kid-friendly and feature added amenities like bouncy houses to help get the wiggles out.
The series kicked off last week with an awesome Abba cover band and continues this week with Cowboy Junkies on July 13. Next is Ozomatli on July 20, The Brothers Comatose on July 27, and Too Slim and the Taildraggers on August 3.
Music begins at 5:30, and you should plan on arriving early with your low-backed chair to snag a good seat. Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE?!?!
Free Summer Sunday Concerts
The Old Mill District’s answer to Munch & Music, the Free Summer Sunday Concert Series starts each year in early-June and spans through mid-July.
The last one is happening this Sunday, July 16, with classic rock & roll from Streetlight Moon, so this is your last chance to sample this awesome event for the season.
Besides the music, the event features food vendors, bouncy houses, and other family-friendly activities. You can also bring a picnic of your own if you’d prefer. Concerts start at 2:30 and run through 4:30, and are super family-friendly (my stepdaughter has turned many-a-cartwheel in front of that stage during these shows!)
Worthy Brewing Twilight Tunes
Bend’s northernmost brewery has some pretty cool features like on-site gardens and their new Hopservatory.
But they also boast a robust concert schedule that includes Twilight Tunes and Worthy Wednesdays. Musical acts range from local talent to acts from outside the area, and their outdoor stage is impressive for such a small venue.
Most shows go from 6-9, and you can consult the schedule to see when the next event is happening. Grab a brew and some of their mouthwatering fish tacos (among the best in town!) and park yourself on their sunny patio.
Crows Feet Commons
Another smaller venue with a happenin’ music scene is Crows Feet Commons. Part bike shop, part café, ALL awesome, Crow’s Feet Commons offers regular outdoor shows right outside their shop in the Mirror Pond Plaza.
The size of the venue and the popularity of many of their acts means you’re smart to buy ahead. For instance, the Matisyahu show happening Sunday, July 16 is almost certain to sell out, so snag tickets beforehand for this or any other show that piques your interest on their event calendar.
They also have a great selection of local brews on tap, along with wine and a full espresso bar.
Oodles of other options
For a great roundup of musical happenings all over Central Oregon, check out Visit Bend’s event calendar. You can search by date or by type of event to find exactly what you’re after.
Summertime in Bend is when I catch myself walking down the street and smiling for no apparent reason.
Well, there is a reason. Did I mention the part about it being summertime in Bend?
But this summer—the summer of 2017—we all have a few extra reasons to grin like goobers. Here are six of them.
Getting around got easier
The increased volume of tourists between June and September has always made traffic more challenging in summer, but three things went into effect recently to make it all a bit easier.
The first was the arrival of Uber back in May 2017, followed by Lyft a few weeks later. While Bend has had regular taxis and cabs for eons, these rideshare programs offer added options at the click of an app. I’ve Ubered and Lyfted for several of this summer’s concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, and found it speedy, convenient, and inexpensive. Bonus: no need to fight for parking or get behind the wheel after an evening of sipping wine in the grass.
The next traffic-related source of smiles is the new Ride Bend shuttle connecting greater Downtown Bend destinations from June 23 through Labor Day. The shuttle is free of charge, and runs every 15 minutes from 2-10 p.m. circulating in a clockwise loop between Downtown Bend, the Old Mill District, OSU-Cascades Campus, and Galveston Avenue. The free shuttle is made possible by a partnership between Visit Bend, the City of Bend, and Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council.
Thirdly, bike share programs have been popping up all over town in recent weeks, including in the Old Mill District, at Crux Fermentation Project, OSU Cascades, and in Downtown Bend at the corner of Franklin and Bond. There’s a new one coming to Drake Park in early-September near the parking area on Franklin. To use, download the Zagster app for your phone, head to a bike station, grab a bike, and go. When you’re done, return it to any Zagster staion.
So many new places to try!
In 20+ years of living in Bend, I’ve seen plenty of cycles with businesses opening and closing at a frantic rate. But I’ve never seen anything like 2017 where it seems there’s a hot new restaurant or retail shop opening almost every week.
Swoon-worthy dining establishments that popped up during the first half of the year include French Market (perfect date night dining!), Sora Sushi (yay for sushi trains!), and Moose Sisters (hooray for awesome north-end options).
On the retail front, my favorite newcomers include Hello Sunshine gift boutique in the Old Mill District (hint: it’s the same owners as uber-adorable Clementine Urban Mercantile in Downtown Bend) and Roundabout Books in Northwest Crossing (who doesn’t love a locally-owned indie bookstore awesome décor, great selection, and fab local author events?!)
We be jammin’ all summer
The summer may be almost half over, but concert season at the Les Schwab Amphitheater is just getting started.
So far, the 2017 season’s lineup has included John Mellencamp, Paul Simon, Pink Martini, Ween, and Deftones with Rise Against. I saw four of the five shows, and they all pretty much rocked my socks off.
But there’s plenty more to come!
Still on the docket are Slightly Stoopid, Jack Johnson, Avett Brothers (my personal fave!), Diana Krall, Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Modest Mouse. As of today (July 6) tickets are still available for all of them except the sold-out Jack Johnson show.
And that doesn’t even include all the awesome Free Summer Sunday Concerts happening through mid-July.
Bonus: For the second year in a row, the Amphitheater is offering the Take Note Initiative to promote a more environmentally-friendly concert experience. Purchase a reusable, limited-edition Silipint for beer, cider, wine, or cocktails for $20. Your first beverage is included in the price, and you get $1 off all subsequent beverages. I bought mine last season, and was thrilled to discover it’s still good this season.
Farmers Market selection
I’m not sure whether to credit lingering moisture from one of the best snow seasons on record, or the fact that we’ve had surprisingly consistent temperatures from late spring through early summer, but 2017 is shaping up to be one of the best seasons I’ve seen in my home garden.
That doesn’t mean I’m inviting you all to my backyard to snack on tomatoes and squash, but it does mean I’m seeing similar abundance at this year’s Bend Farmers Market. The berries look plumper, the kale looks leafier, and the overall harvest looks more plentiful.
The Bend Farmers Market takes place from 3-6 p.m. every Wednesday in the Brooks Alley just above Drake Park. The 2017 season will go through October 11.
New stuff on the Bend Ale Trail
Summertime is one of my favorite seasons to hit the Bend Ale Trail, since local breweries launch their flavorful, seasonal sippers that are perfect for enjoying on the patio on a warm summer evening.
Right now, I’ve been diggin’ the SUP Seasonal Ale from Sunriver Brewing, the French Connection from Crux Fermentation Project, and the Peaches Everyday sour at 10 Barrel (which has a brand new Eastside pub that’s been making me smile quite often by being mere steps from my front door).
Also new and worth a gander is the Hopservatory at Worthy Brewing. Guided tours offer an overview of our night skies and a chance to gaze through a high-powered telescope with the aid of experts from the Oregon Observatory in Sunriver. Kick off your stargazing experience with a stop in the brand new Star Bar and a pint of their tasty seasonal IPA, Strata.
Smile at a stranger
Ask regular visitors to Bend what they love best about this place and odds are good you’ll hear one answer again and again: The friendliness of the people.
It’s something you’ll see personified every time you stroll the streets of Downtown Bend or pass someone on a hiking trail—people smile at you. Like, total strangers, just grinning a greeting at everyone they see.
Don’t panic if that’s not the norm where you come from. Just smile back and give a little wave. If you’re feeling bold, try out a casual “hello!” or “have a great day!”
For more ideas on how to #VisitLikeALocal when you’re in Bend, check out this page.
Everyone has a favorite holiday. Maybe it’s Christmas or Valentine’s Day for you, but for me it will always be July 4.
The fact that I spend it in Bend every year has a lot to do with that.
From the waggy-tailed joy of the Pet Parade to the breathless speculation over which side of Pilot Butte will catch on fire (it’s a thing, people) I adore Independence Day in Bend.
Here’s what you should know if you plan to join us in 2017.
Q: Where can I watch Fourth of July fireworks in Bend?
A: Each year, fireworks are launched from the top of Pilot Butte at 10 p.m. If you have any friends who live in an elevated area of northeast Bend, try to procure an invitation to their Independence Day barbecue. Bring beer.
If that’s not an option, you can see fireworks from just about any spot in town with a view of Pilot Butte. City parks are popular viewing zones, so check the Parks & Rec site to find one near you. Al Moody Park (near the base of Pilot Butte) is a locals’ favorite, but you’ll want to get there early with a blanket or chairs.
Q: What special events are happening for July 4?
A: Bend’s old-fashioned 4th of July celebration is like something out of a Normal Rockwell painting. Pie-eating contests, dunk tanks, scavenger hunts, and sack races will keep you hopping (so to speak) all day long.
Things kick off early with the annual Pancake Breakfast in Drake Park sponsored by the Bend Sunrise Lion’s Club. This all-American meal is served from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., and proceeds support local charities.
Once you’ve stuffed your face with hotcakes and bacon, stroll into Downtown Bend for the annual Pet Parade. It’s Bend’s largest parade, with 8,000 spectators and participants, and it’s been happening since the 1930s. Starting at 10 a.m., the parade winds its way through downtown with a kooky array of humans, canines, and farm animals, many of whom will be attired in bizarre costumes.
If you or your kids want to march in the parade, the lineup and decorating party takes place at 9 a.m. in the parking lot between Bond and Wall across from the Deschutes Public Library. Temps will likely be in the 80s this year, so keep your kids’ and pets’ comfort in mind when planning costumes.
If you just want to watch, you can park your chair pretty much anywhere in Downtown Bend. Streets will be closed from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and parking can be tough to find, so it’s a great chance to use alternative transportation like biking or walking.
After the parade, head over to Drake Park for the aforementioned Old Fashioned July 4 Festival. From 11-4, enjoy games, live music, a variety of food booths, kids’ activities, and more than 130 artisan booths.
Want to support a good cause with your July 4 festivities? Attend a benefit for the Central Oregon Veterans Organization from 6-10 p.m. at The Collective (62070 27th Street). Your $50 ticket gets you food, drinks, dancing, and a killer view of the fireworks, but hurry—the event is limited to 200 tickets. You can learn more by calling 541-390-5833.
If music is your jam, there are still tickets available for the July 4 Deftones concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater.
Q: Uh-oh…I don’t have a place to stay.
A: Independence Day is typically one of the busiest times of the year in Bend, so pat yourself on the back if you’ve already nailed down lodging reservations.
If you haven’t, you can scope out our lodging pages as a starting point for deciding who to call about last-minute availability and cancellations. If you strike out in Bend, try one of our neighboring towns like Redmond (20 minutes away), Sisters (25-30 minutes away), Sunriver (25-30 minutes away), La Pine (45 minutes away), or Prineville (45 minutes away).
If you’re hoping to camp, check out Visit Bend’s complete roundup of campgrounds and RV parks. While we can’t guarantee availability on a busy holiday weekend, these campgrounds might be worth trying if you strike out elsewhere:
- Near Newberry Crater, try Cinder Hill campground.
- Want to stay near Sisters? Try Perry South or Sisters Creekside Campground.
- State Parks are another option for those willing to drive 20-40 minutes. Smith Rock State Parkhas great spots for tent campers, while La Pine State Park, Cove Palisades, and Prineville Reservoir can all accommodate both RVs and tents.
- Some tent campers might enjoy the solitude and primitive experience of dispersed campingin the Ochoco or Deschutes National forests.
- RV enthusiasts will also find hookups and bathrooms with showers at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds RV Park. Though Bachelordoesn’t have hookups, they do offer bathrooms and showers in the Guest Services building for those who want to park their RVs in the designated area at the mountain.
Q: Where can I play in the Deschutes River?
A: We have a whole web page devoted to this! Find out about canoeing, kayaking, standup paddling, and river float trips in Bend. To get the inside scoop on floating on the Deschutes River the way the locals do it, check out this blog post on how to float the river like a pro.
Q: What hikes are open?
A: This page from the Forest Service offers up-to-the-minute trail conditions and closure info. You can also refer to Visit Bend’s hiking page for ideas about where to go. Cascade Hiking Adventures is another terrific resource for hiking ideas.
Q: What else is open July 4?
A: Mt. Bachelor has a special treat this year for fans of both summer and winter sports. Bend’s record winter snowfall means the snow is still 10 feet deep in some spots at Mt. Bachelor, so the mountain will be open July 2-July 4 for skiing and snowboarding. Learn more about lift ticket prices and schedules right here. In addition, Bachelor’s summer sports season kicks off July 1, including the downhill mountain bike park, disc golf, and lunches at the Pine Marten Lodge. Basically, it’s the first time in the resort’s 58 year history that you can ski and downhill mountain bike on the same visit, so you won’t want to miss it.
Though the High Desert Museum is closed on Independence Day, be sure to stop by on a different day during your trip. Check their schedule and time your visit for one of their stellar Raptors of the High Desert shows. Lava Lands Visitor Center is Open July 4. The Deschutes Historical Museum is not only open, but offers free admission and free ice cream cups while supplies last on July 4.
And of course, the Bend Visitor Center will be open on Independence Day from 9-5 for all your visitor information needs (and to redeem Bend Ale Trail atlases, of course!)
Q: We enjoy the Bend Buzz blog so much that we’d like to buy you a beer. What do you like?
A: Why thank you! I’ll take anything from around the Bend Ale Trail, but my current favorites include Life’s a Peach and Then You Die (a Milkshake NE IPA from Riverbend Brewing), the Half Hitch Imperial IPA from Crux Fermentation Project, the Cherry Card-a-Bomb from Worthy Brewing, Ching Ching from Bend Brewing Company, and pretty much any sour they happen to be serving up at 10 Barrel.
This past Wednesday marked the official first day of summer, which means Bend’s peak season is officially in full swing. Planning a summer vacation to the outdoor playground of the West? Here’s what you need to know!
Visit Like a Local
Want the inside scoop on everything from trail etiquette to the right way to navigate Bend’s roundabouts? Check out our Visit Like a Local page!
In a matter of minutes, you’ll be an expert on leash laws, the best beverage receptacles, and the proper footwear to don for a river float (hint: NOT flip-flops)!
There’s a lot happening in Bend during the summer months, from concerts to art festivals to sporting events. Many’s the time I’ve heard visitors lament that if only they’d known the dates for Bite of Bend or the Michael Franti concert, they would have planned their trip around it.
Here’s a tip: Check out the Visit Bend Event Calendar to see the full scope of what’s going on during the times you’re considering a visit.
I won’t lie—traffic can be tricky in Bend’s peak summer months, with everyone scrambling to see the same sights, shop the same stores, and dine in the same fabulous restaurants. This summer, you have two brand new options for navigating without the need to drive your own car.
The first is the new Ride Bend shuttle connecting greater Downtown Bend destinations from June 23 through Labor Day. The shuttle is free of charge, and runs every 15 minutes circulating in a clockwise loop between Downtown Bend, the Old Mill District, OSU-Cascades Campus, and Galveston Avenue. The free shuttle is made possible by a partnership between Visit Bend, the City of Bend, and Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council.
The second option is a new bike share program that has stations popping up all over town, including in the Old Mill District, Downtown Bend, and at OSU-Cascades. Download the Zagster app for your phone to get started.
And of course, an organized tour is another way to make sure you don’t have to haggle for parking at popular trailheads. Book a canoe outing or volcanic adventure with Wanderlust Tours and leave the driving, planning, and gear to someone else.
Yes, you really do need reservations
Folks with fond childhood memories of cruising into Bend on a Saturday and having plenty of Bend hotel rooms to pick from can get a pretty rude awakening in mid- summer.
Times have changed, and the city’s lodging operates at or near capacity from June through September. That means you need to plan ahead, especially if there’s a special Bend vacation home or bed and breakfast you’ve been eyeing.
Don’t risk having your summer vacation plans torpedoed by a lack of lodging. Plan ahead, then kick back and relax knowing you have a place to bunk down for the night.
Pick your play
Bend is a cornucopia of outdoor activities year-round, but that’s especially true in summer. On a shorter trip, it can be tough to choose between activities, so you owe it to yourself to study up.
Consider what forms of water recreation you want on your roster—Kayaking? Canoeing? Standup paddleboarding? Fishing? Pick your faves, and study up. It’s especially crucial to understand the rules of floating the river if that’s on your agenda.
Investigate your options for hiking and identify a top choice hike or two.
Knowing you have at least one designated day for play (and what it’s going to be) is a great way to give yourself something to anticipate for your Bend vacation.
Indoorsy options for all
The dry heat of our Central Oregon high desert takes some getting used to, so it’s smart to plan at least one “indoorsy” day filled with air conditioning and a bit of culture.
Visit the High Desert Museum to scope out the cool critters and exhibits. Explore art galleries or see a show at the Tower Theatre. Learn about Bend history with a visit to the Deschutes Historical Museum.
Then get back out there and soak up the sun. With sunscreen, of course.
Whether you’re drawn to Bend by the breweries, the hiking trails, or the mountain biking, there’s one activity that’s almost certainly on your to-do list if you visit between June and September: Floating the river.
I know this because previous blogs I’ve written on the subject remain our most highly-trafficked posts even seven years later. Since the rules and even the river change from year to year (more on that in a sec!), it’s time for an updated, latest-and-greatest blog post featuring everything you need to know about floating the Deschutes River in the summer of 2017.
Start with the right gear
First things first: Here’s what you’ll need to safely (and legally) float the river:
- A high-quality inner tube or floatation device. While you’ll see plenty of folks out there on pool toys, that’s risky if you want to cruise through the passageway channel in the Bend Whitewater Park. Rocks and rapids lead to popped and tumbled cheap floaties (which leaves us with garbage bins stuffed with ruined inflatables). You can rent durable float tubes from a number of local retailers including Sun Country and Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.
- I’ve witnessed many a ruined vacation when visitors didn’t realize the strength of the sun in our high-altitude desert town. Slather up, guys. You’ll thank me later.
- Proper footwear. You’ll want something on your feet for hoofing it back to your car or around the passageway, but whatever you do, DON’T WEAR FLIP FLOPS! They’ll come off in the water or mud to become litter in our pristine river. Instead, opt for sturdy footwear like Keens or Tevas.
- Secure your personal items. Plan to keep your keys, phones, trash and other belongings with you, not on the river’s bottom. Want to ruin your trip in a hurry? Just lose your car keys (or wallet, phone, camera, prescription glasses and so on) in the passageway. No Bueno.
- Life jacket. State law requires that each boat or paddleboard carry one Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board, and children age 12 and under are required to wear life jackets. If you lash several float tubes together, that counts as a boat. Play it safe and snag yourself and the kids a free rental life jacket from the Sun Country kiosk at Riverbend Park.
Okay, now what?
Since the Deschutes River does not flow in a circle like a carnival ride, you need to make a plan before you set foot in the water. While some folks opt for a long walk back to their car, or do the multi-car shuffle by leaving a vehicle at the takeout point, you’ll be much, much happier if you leave the driving to someone else by taking the Ride the River Shuttle. It’ll save you tons of headaches with parking.
Now that you’ve got a plan, you’re ready to roll!
Most floaters put in at the shallow beach area in Riverbend Park. Paddle out into the water and let the current start your journey downstream. Keep in mind the water is fed by snowmelt and icy springs, so it’ll be chilly even at the height of summer.
As you approach the Colorado Avenue Bridge, you’ve got a decision to make . . .
To ride or not to ride?
In 2015, the Bend Whitewater Park opened at the site of the former Colorado Avenue dam, opening up an access that previously didn’t exist. It has three distinct channels that include a habitat area for wildlife, a whitewater channel for surfing and whitewater kayaking, and a passageway meant for river floaters.
If this is your first time through, hop out here and study the passageway. It includes a series of rapids that’ll be a little bumpy and could wreck your ride (not to mention your backside) if you’re not using a sturdy floatation device. If you’re on a flatwater boat or paddleboard instead of a float tube, you’ll want to exit the river here as the rapids will likely damage your boat or board.
Feeling up to it? If you’re riding on through the passageway, do your best to keep your feet downstream and your float tube in the whitewater section of the channel.
If you have small children with you or if you’d rather walk around it, just hoof it along the portage trail and hop back in the water on the other end of the channel.
You can also call it a day at the bridge and enjoy a relatively short walk back to the put-in point.
Or you can keep on floating . . .
Got it. Let’s keep going!
If you choose to continue floating past the Colorado Avenue Bridge, you’ll eventually find yourself drifting into Drake Park. As you approach the Galveston Avenue Bridge, start making your way to the right.
Just past the bridge, you’ll see a small beach on the right side of the river. That’s where you’ll want to hop out.
And since you already made plans to Ride the River Shuttle, you’ll have an easy time getting back to your vehicle or to the put-in spot so you can do the whole thing all over again.
What else do I need to know?
A few more rules, tips, and general advice to avoid breaking the law or being a jerk:
- There are local ordinances that make it illegal to drink alcohol on the Deschutes River or in a Bend park, so leave the brews at home. You know what’s also illegal? Sinking your beer cans or bottles in the water. If the cops catch you doing it, they’ll fine you. If a local catches you doing it, you’ll get a pretty serious tongue-lashing about littering and the importance of protecting Bend’s natural beauty.
- Despite the fact that marijuana is legal in Oregon, it’s not legal to blaze up in public places. Leave the bong behind, guys.
- Keep in mind that the full float will take anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes. Plan on half that time if you jump out at the Colorado Avenue Bridge.
- Parking can be crowded at Riverbend Park, but it’s downright insane at Drake Park. Seriously, Ride the River Shuttle. I promise you’ll thank me.
- Bend Park and Rec offers an amazing virtual tour for how to float the river. You can check that out here.
- Want a big-picture overview of the Deschutes River and where all the hazards lie? The Bulletin recently ran an excellent graphic you can scope out right here.
- Want more tips on navigating Bend like a pro? Check out our Visit Like a Local page!
Happy floating, everyone!