Category: Leave No Trace
A series of storms moving through Bend recently left behind a glorious abundance of powdery white stuff, and there’s more on the way.
What better way to celebrate than by grabbing your saucer sled and rediscovering your inner child on a snowy slope?
Here’s how to make the most of your sledding adventure when you’re in Bend.
Pack your sled, pick a hill
While plenty of Bend retailers and sporting goods stores sell sleds of all kinds, they get tougher to find late in the season or after a big snowstorm. If you already have one in your garage, make room for it in the car before your drive to Bend.
There are plenty of fabulous public parks in Bend with hills that are ideal for snowy swooping. When the snow piles up in town, any sloped surface at one of Bend Parks and Recreation’s more than 70 parks can be fair game for sledding.
Bend’s crown jewel, Drake Park, spans 13 acres with several easy slopes that transform into popular sledding hills when the white stuff is plentiful. Hollinshead Park also has several nice sledding spots dotted around its 16.5 acre space. In the northeast part of town, try Al Moody Park, which also boasts some awesome playground equipment in case the kiddies need a change of scenery.
If snow isn’t blanketing the ground in town, drive 20 minutes up Century Drive to Wanoga Sno-Park. Besides its snowmobile area and fabulous dog-friendly trails for snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, Wanoga offers an expansive sledding area with a huge warming hut (complete with woodstove and picnic tables) at the base. Don’t forget to buy a sno-park permit, which you can grab at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon in Downtown Bend.
Skip the sled and make it easy
Looking for a sledding experience that doesn’t require you to have your own sled? Check out Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park. Located between the Mountain Gateway building and the bottom of Red Chair, the tubing park is an 800-foot ride complete with lanes, rollers, and surface lifts that pull you and your tube up the hill quickly and comfortably.
Prices vary depending on the date range, your age, and whether you’re looking for a full day or just a couple hours, but expect to pay anywhere from $20-45 (not too shabby, considering the price includes your tube and as many rides as you can handle without having to hoof it to the top lugging a heavy sled). They’re open Friday through Sunday, plus holidays and winter or spring break.
Another great option for leave-the-hassle-to-someone-else sledding is the Autobahn Tubing Park at Hoodoo Ski Area. After Hoodoo got more than 30 inches of fresh snow in the last week, they’re reopening the park this Saturday, March 3, 2018. Groomers expect to have 6-8 lanes open for tubing Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tubes are provided free with an Autobahn ticket, and no other tubes are allowed in the park. For more information, visit the Autobahn page.
Be a responsible sledder
When you were little, responsible sledding meant wearing your hat and gloves (and maybe a helmet if you had one of those moms).
While warmth and safety are important, so is tending to Bend’s beautiful outdoor spaces. If you’re up at Wanoga Sno-Park and your saucer sled busts in two, please, please do not try to stuff it in the overflowing dumpster in the parking lot. It’s littering, plain and simple. The sled graveyard up there is an expensive endeavor for the Forest Service to deal with, so please follow Leave No Trace practices by packing out your own garbage.
Better yet, purchase a sturdy, well-made sled meant to last for generations (old school Radio Flyer, anyone?) Then you won’t have to worry about burdening Bend’s landfills.
For more tips on preserving Bend’s culture, community, and landscape, check out the tips on our Visit Like a Local page.
It was 67 degrees in Bend yesterday, and I rode a bike home without gloves or a hat before lounging on my front porch in a short-sleeved top with an ice-cold beer.
It’s all a big lie.
But this spring-like weather is a tease we see every year in Bend. We’ll get a few warm, sunny days in March that’ll have us all busting out summer dresses and paddleboards until the next snowy day chases us all back inside for a bit longer.
I’m not saying it’ll snow again this season (though my status as a fourth-generation Oregon living half her life in Bend suggests it’s likely). But I am saying Bend has a history as a big fat liar. What proof?
The spring weather tease
It’s a pattern here in the high desert. A few warm, sunny days of spring will have us cranking the air conditioning in mid-March, and the little crocuses around Downtown Bend will pop their heads out. Visitors and newcomers will frolic in shorts and tanks, saying things like, “Wow, spring comes early here!”
Don’t be fooled.
Then the frost will hit. Or maybe an all-out snowstorm. Hey, I was here one year we saw snow in July.
The upside of all this is that you’re not forced to choose just one kind of Bend experience. If you love skiing or snuggling by a fire pit in gloves and a puffy coat, you can do that in the springtime. If you also love mountain biking or walking the river trail in short sleeves, you can do that, too—often in the same weekend.
Basically, Bend’s little fibs give you the best of both worlds.
Not just a beer town
You’ve heard Bend dubbed “BeerTown USA.”
As the official PR Chick for Visit Bend, I see a new Bend-is-the-world’s-greatest-beer-destination article in some major publication nearly every week. It would be easy to buy into the hype and assume Bend’s nothing but a beer town.
In reality, nothing’s further from the truth.
We’ve got a killer cocktail scene, with hotspots like 10 Below, Dogwood Cocktail Cabin, and The Barrel Thief Lounge offering delectable concoctions crafted with local spirits and unique ingredients. If you’d rather go straight to the source, Bend boasts a number of renowned distilleries (don’t miss the brand new Crater Lake Tasting Room from Bendistillery in Downtown Bend!)
Bend also has at least half-a-dozen kombucha breweries in town, and you’ll find this healthful, fermented beverage on tap at lots of local pubs and restaurants. Parilla Grill (one of my favorite lunch spots) has three taps flowing with kombucha from Caboost, Bucha Buena, and Humm Kombucha—all of which are based in Bend. You can also fill a growler with kombucha at places like The Growler Guys and Food 4 Less (both of which have Humm Kombucha and Brew Dr. Kombucha on tap).
Bend’s hard cider scene is also top-notch, and you’ll always find a few local cideries among the tap handles of local growler fill stations. There are currently three cideries on the roster in Bend, and you’ll find all of them along the Drinkable Diversions route.
Can’t decide which to try? Don’t choose! Hit one cidery, one distillery, one brewery, and one winery, with the Local Pour Tour. They’ll drive you to and from your hotel, hitting all four stops and even providing a light appetizer along the way!
If you drop a gum wrapper in the woods, would anyone notice?
Bend’s wilderness areas are so vast and open that it’s easy to fall prey to the notion that a dropped bit of Kleenex or a forgotten pile of dog doody won’t make a difference.
Don’t buy that crap.
In Bend, we believe in picking up after ourselves and following Leave No Trace ethics. It’s what helps to keep our wilderness areas pristine and beautiful.
For more ideas on helping with the cause, check out our Visit Like a Local page.
You can’t ski and golf in the same day, can you?
Likewise, when you’re cruising the mountain bike trails in short sleeves and sunshine, how wacky does it seem to think that just a few miles up the hill, people are shredding the slopes in thick, puffy coats?
Believe it, though!
The rapid elevation gain that makes it all possible is one of Bend’s most charming attributes. It’s a feature that made Rad Season take note in their recent article about the “Bend Double” (the ability to ski and bike in the same day).
Casual vibe ≠ no reservations required
If I had a beer for every time I’ve watched baffled tourists walk into the Visitor Center expressing confusion over their inability to find a last-second room or campsite, I’d have . . . well, more beer than I should probably drink in a week.
The problem is two-fold: longtime Oregonians who spent childhood vacations in Bend are remembering the sleepy little town where you could show up on a Saturday in August and expect to find vacant rooms and campsites galore. But Bend’s popularity has made that unlikely these days, particularly in peak season between May and September.
Then, there’s the lie. See, Bend is such a mellow, laidback kinda town, that people just assume it’s not the sort of place where you need a reservation.
Don’t fall for it.
And don’t be disappointed. Be a smart traveler and research Bend lodging before your trip, then book ahead to get your top pick.
You know those T-shirts that say, “My mom went to Yellowstone and all she brought me was this lousy shirt?”
Um, yeah. The souvenirs I’m about to suggest to you are way worse. Like “what the @#%$ are you thinking?!” worse.
Nevertheless, there’s a reason you should pick up these six things in Bend, Oregon.
Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine, and you know what that means?
Lotsa dogs = lotsa dog doodie.
Fortunately, locals know that good manners (not to mention the law) dictate you pick up after your pooch. Even more fortunately, you’ll find dog doo baggies all over town, including nearly all of Bend’s 80+ public parks.
Need extras? There’s a dispenser right outside my office window at the Bend Visitor Center, so grab one when you swing by for maps and travel tips (bonus: Our office is super dog-friendly, so bring Fido inside for some ear scritches from the staff).
You can also visit Bend Pet Express to buy a big stash of doodie bags for your very own. If you really want to generate some good karma, use those baggies to grab an extra nugget or two left behind by dog owners less responsible than you. I promise it’ll make you feel good.
After you stop gagging, I mean.
Folks in Bend are big proponents of Leave No Trace ethics on hiking trails and around town. You can read about it on our Visit Like a Local page, or see it in action when you watch fellow hikers stop to pick up bits of trash that don’t even belong to them.
Want to pitch in? Stuff a small garbage sack in your backpack or pocket before set out for a walk or hike. As you go, stop every now and then to pick up a stray bottlecap or gum wrapper. It’s a great way to ensure you’ll always leave your favorite Bend trail just a little nicer than you found it.
Bottles and cans
This one goes along with the one about picking up trash, but there’s an added bonus for you if you stop to pick up stray cans and bottles left behind in parks and trails.
Thanks to Oregon’s Bottle Bill (which has been around since 1971), you can return cans and bottles for a deposit that ranges from 5-10-cents. That’s not a bad way to pick up a little pocket change (which makes a way better souvenir than the bottles and cans themselves).
Oh, and if you want to go a step further with reducing the number of cans and bottles in circulation, buy a reusable water bottle or growler from Hydro Flask or DrinkTanks. Not only will it keep your drink cool (or hot!), but you’ll be supporting a Bend-based business with your purchase.
One of the few things I don’t love about Bend is the prevalence of windy days. Unexpected wind gusts, combined with the popularity of outdoor dining in Bend, can turn a perfectly responsible human being into an unintentional litterbug in the blink of an eye.
That’s why you should always scoop up stray napkins if you spot one on the ground. If we all make a habit of it, some good Samaritan will pick up your escaped napkin the next time a sudden breeze swipes it from your hand and carries it miles from your dinner table.
When I was 19, I contracted giardia while hiking in Montana and drinking from a creek along a deer migration path. It’s an experience I don’t recommend.
But if you enjoy symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and vomiting, giardia might be right up your alley! And since few places on earth are as beautiful as Bend, you may as well pick it up right here in Central Oregon.
The best way to contract giardia is by eating yellow snow or drinking water contaminated by animal feces. Yummy!
Of course, if giardia doesn’t sound like your idea of a great souvenir, you should skip sucking water straight from creeks or rivers when you’re out hiking. Pack the aforementioned Hydro Flask or DrinkTanks with plenty of extra water to make sure you stay hydrated. If you absolutely must drink creek water when camping in the backcountry, make sure you have a good water filter or water treatment system in your pack.
We’ve all seen one. That single glove lying forlorn and alone on the fresh snow beneath the chairlift. It’s a common sight at any ski resort, including Mt. Bachelor.
It sucks to be that person who dropped a glove, and sucks even more not to be able to locate your lost glove during an epic day of powder skiing.
Do a solid for your fellow snow enthusiast: If you see a stray glove, pick it up and deliver it to the lift operator at the bottom of that run. Not only will it keep the slopes safe and clear, but it’ll save a stranger from chilly fingers.
You know those heart-tugging stories on the evening news that make you feel happy to be a member of the human race?
While I won’t claim the folks in Bend are shiny-happy people 24/7, most of us spend a fair amount of time feeling darn grateful to be here. If the following 7 examples don’t make you smile at least a little, you might be dead inside.
We take care of our toys
Recreation lovers flock to Bend in droves, so our outdoor spaces need a little extra tending to keep them healthy. Thankfully, folks here are good about stepping up to the plate.
The Upper Deschutes Watershed Council has held an annual river cleanup for 20 years. Their most recent one in July resulted in more than 200 volunteers removing 1,400 pounds of garbage from the Deschutes River and its banks. Keep an eye on their website to learn how you can participate next year.
The Annual Smith Rock Spring Thing has also been going strong for more than two decades at Smith Rock State Park, with volunteers pitching in on cleanup efforts, special projects, and trail maintenance. The burrito supper afterward makes it even sweeter!
If fighting invasive weeds is your passion, join a Let’s Pull Together event in May or June to help eradicate those noxious plants.
And speaking of that . . .
It’s a team effort
When I reached out to Wanderlust Tours owner Dave Nissen for details on his company’s efforts to preserve our outdoor spaces, he wrote such a lovely response about Bend’s spirit of collaboration and corporate responsibility that I asked to share it with you. Take it away, Dave!
“A massive smile comes to my face knowing the volunteer efforts that take place in Bend. Bendites find a passion to take part in, and once this happens, they give of their time to improve the circumstances surrounding that passion. I see this made manifest in innumerable ways. One event that I am passionate about is Wanderlust Tours’ cave cleanup day. We simply clean up the environment around our cave systems. The sweetest thing about this is witnessing disassociated locals coming to be a part of this event. What used to be just Wanderlust Tours staff caring for the environment spread to passionate people at our local REI who jump on board to go “play” underground with us. Then a local restaurant, Jimmy Johns, got involved by asking if they could provide food for hungry volunteers, and their staff have joined in the day of community service. A local realtor, John Furrow with Fred Realty, got wind of our efforts and not only do John and his family join in, but he brings his associates and personal friends along to help foster Bend as a shining star of community fulfilling its passion through local service. Through a volunteer effort like this, relationships are built and our community is stronger for it. This infectiously makes me smile.”
Now I’m not just smiling. There might be a little something in my eye.
Dog lovers unite!
There’s a camaraderie among dog owners in Bend, and it’s part of the reason we were named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine.
Dog owners smile at each other whether they’re strolling the Old Mill District with their pooches on-leash, or visiting one of Bend’s eight dog parks.
Since I live near the city’s largest off-leash area, I’ve come to rely on it as my go-to mood brightener. If I’m having a crummy day, I grab my pup and head over there for an instant infusion of wagging tails and smiles from dog owners who always offer friendly pooch-related chatter.
Another bonus? Folks are serious about picking up after Fido, which you can see from the abundance of free doody bags in most Bend parks. The Downtown Bend Business Association recently added several doody bag dispensers around Downtown.
Make sure you grab one on your way into the Bend Visitor Center (which is dog-friendly, of course). While you’re here, you and Rover can snag a free dog biscuit donated by Mud Bay and a free collapsible dog bowl donated by Bend Pet Express.
Bend keeps you young
On Wednesday, a 98-year-old gentleman stopped by the Bend Visitor Center and mentioned how excited he was about purchasing his Mt. Bachelor season pass this year.
This was as he was on his way out to go jet-boating.
Oh, and have you ever looked at the results of the annual Pole, Pedal, Paddle and noticed how many competitors there are in the 70-74 age category or even 80+?
Think about that the next time you catch yourself muttering that you’re too old to do something.
Fresh from the garden
From May to October, I make it a point to stroll over to the Bend Farmers Market every Wednesday afternoon. It’s not because I desperately want fresh fruits, veggies, locally-sourced meats, cheeses, flowers, and jams (though there’s that, too).
But half the time I don’t even buy anything. I go because everyone there is smiling. There’s live music and cheerful mothers pushing strollers and the smell of fresh herbs in the air.
If you could bottle the vibe at the Bend Farmer’s Market, you could make millions selling it as an antidepressant.
So much free stuff
Of course we want you to stimulate Bend’s economy by spending money with locally-owned retailers who rely on it. But one of the cool things about Bend is how many amazing experiences don’t cost a dime.
Love art? You’ll dig the plethora of public art in Bend, ranging from the Roundabout Art Route to the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection. If music is your scene, check out the wide range of free summertime concerts including Free Summer Sundays in the Les Schwab Amphitheater and Munch & Music in Drake Park (which segues into Munch & Movies as summer comes to a close).
Sun Country Tours offers free rental life jackets to anyone floating the river from Riverbend Park—even if you don’t rent gear from them!
Goody’s Chocolate and Ice Cream (a Bend staple for more than 30 years) offers free factory tours, which include a free sample of chocolate.
And of course, there’s the great outdoors. Hiking, swimming, and exploring in Bend are all totally free, and the return-on-investment is immeasurable.
The smiles . . .
Do something for me, okay?
The next time you’re out on the trail or strolling around Downtown Bend, pick a random stranger and smile.
This is assuming the random stranger hasn’t already smiled at you first, which isn’t a safe assumption.
If the recipient of your unsolicited grin doesn’t smile back, consult your Smartphone’s location tracker. You are not in Bend.