I don’t like to get preachy on this blog. Mostly I enjoy writing about things like my favorite Bend parks or Bend’s best bacon.

But I’ve seen a lot of buzz lately about people playing outside and injuring themselves badly enough to require a helicopter rescue, all for the sake of snagging a scenic selfie or an epic Instagram shot. Guys, no! I want you to stay safe out there! I also want our superawesome outdoor spaces to stay superawesome, and I also want you to go home with some killer photos and vacation memories.

Sounds like a tall order, right? But we can all have our cake and eat it, too. Here’s how!

 

Stick to the trails

Bend has an abundance of killer hiking trails in every direction. Landscapes range from craggy lava fields to lakeside meadows to vast desert to lush forest to high-elevation alpine terrain, and there are well-marked trails through all of it.

Marked trails in the wilderness keep you (and the wilderness!) safe from harm.
Marked trails in the wilderness keep you (and the wilderness!) safe from harm.

We also have nearly 300-miles of singletrack mountain biking trails, including sweet, flowy rides, epic dirt-jumping, and even kid-friendly cross country.

With all those well-marked trails to choose from, there’s really no reason to wander off-trail and risk irreparable damage to ancient landscapes, delicate forest foliage, or to your own fine self.

Besides that, it’s pretty tough to get lost if you stay on the trail, which means you stay safe and live to hike and bike another day. Win/win!

 

Pack it in, pack it out

Probably one of the most essential rules of enjoying the great outdoors is to leave nothing behind but footprints (and maybe the occasional tear of joy shed while you paddle the mighty Deschutes, though please limit joyful tear shedding to three per person, lest you alter the salinity of our mighty river).

In any case, you’ll find trash receptacles at most parks and trailheads, and those make an awesome place to stash the remnants of your picnic or that tissue you used while weeping the aforementioned tears of joy.

Canned beer is portable and packable!
Canned beer is portable and packable!

Carrying reusable beverage bottles like the ones made by Hydro Flask or DrinkTanks is one handy way to reduce your trash production. Bonus: They keep your drink a whole lot colder than a flimsy plastic bottle. Double bonus: The Bend-logoed ones we sell in the Bend Visitor Center make great souvenirs!

If beer is your beverage of choice, several Bend Ale Trail breweries like Worthy, GoodLife, Silver Moon, Crux, and Three Creeks offer their tasty elixir in cans. They’re more lightweight (and less breakable) than glass bottles, plus empty cans can be crushed and packed out with more ease than you packed them in.

 

Signs and fences are our friends

When you see a sign telling you not to enter a particular area, or a fence that makes it tough to do so, that’s not because someone wants to put a damper on your adventure. It’s there to keep you (and the delicate landscape) safe and sound and able to be enjoyed by future generations.

I have it on good authority that future generations really want to enjoy you, so mind the signs, mind the fences, and stay safe out there.

 

Look out for Fido, too!

We love dogs in Bend—so much so, that we were named the nation’s dog-friendliest city. Fido is welcome in even the unlikeliest of areas ranging from breweries to downtown shops and even canoe trips with Wanderlust Tours.

Blogger Tawna enjoys standup paddleboarding with Bindi (who wears her life vest for safety's sake!)
Blogger Tawna enjoys standup paddleboarding with Bindi (who wears her life vest for safety’s sake!)

First things first: It’s important to protect Fido from the high desert’s harsh elements. Consider a product like Musher’s Secret or some dog boots by Bend-based RuffWear in the winter months. In hot summer months, be aware that pavement and trails can be ridiculously hot, so be conscious of Fluffy’s paws. If you let your pooch cool off in our rivers, lakes, and streams, don’t forget your doggie life jacket!

Okay, now on to the (ahem) slightly less pleasant aspect of owning a dog. Unless you’ve trained your pooch to use an outhouse, there will come a time when Fido builds a little log cabin in the grass. When that happens, make sure you have your doody bags handy so you can follow the previous suggestion about packing it out.

Nearly all of the 80+ public parks in Bend have dog doo baggies free for the taking. While I’m not suggesting you stuff your pockets with them, I won’t tell anyone if you grab a spare for your hike into the wilderness later that day. Also, locally-owned Bend Pet Express is a great place to stock up on doody bags, dog safety gear, and more!

 

Don’t squish the flowers

We’ve all seen those Instagram pics of people sprawled on a blanket in a colorful meadow, or running merrily through a field of wildflowers, and yes, they’re pretty. But before you head out for your own flowery frolic, consider the fact that stomping, dancing, napping, rolling, picnicking, or camping on picturesque fields of flowers makes them not-so-picturesque for other people who want to enjoy them.

Enjoy Bend's wildflowers from the trail, and resist the urge to squish them.
Enjoy Bend’s wildflowers from the trail, and resist the urge to squish them.

Not only that, but rolling around in the grass is a good way to find yourself wallowing on the aforementioned log cabin built by a pooch owned by someone less responsible than you are.

Keep our wildflowers (and your favorite shirt!) in pristine condition and refrain from flopping down on them.

 

But what if I want a super-awesome gnarly photo?

Hey, I don’t blame you. It’s fun to bring back cool photos from an epic vacation, and Bend has no shortage of great photo viewpoints.

But there’s no need to break a leg (or a tree branch) to get ‘em. Check out this handy guide for six places to go and a few angles to consider when trying to snag memorable photos of Bend.

Most of all, get out there and have some good, safe, healthy fun in Bend’s great outdoors!

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