2018 is officially here, and there’s a lot of chatter about rebirth, renewal, rejuvenation, and probably a bunch of other “re” words I’m forgetting.
In case you’re looking to hit refresh (hey, there’s another!) at the start of a new year, here are 4 unique experiences in Bend that can help.
Float away your worries
At Float Central in Bend, you can let all your cares float away while you do the same.
Floating is a wellness and healing technique that allows a person to be free from gravity and external stimulation in a relaxing environment. You slip into a tank that’s roughly four feet wide and seven feet long and filled with water that’s heated to skin temperature. Basically, you lose track of where your body ends and the water begins.
The idea is to let your mind slow down and your body achieve the ultimate relaxation. Since the tanks are soundproof and your ears are below the waterline, noise from the outside doesn’t reach you (though there’s no shame if you’re a wee bit claustrophobic and want to leave the door open).
The water is saturated with Epsom salts at a level that relieves your body from gravity, so you don’t exert any effort to stay afloat. Since your body isn’t fighting gravity or listening to chattering voices and the pinging of cell phones, your brain can spend its energy pumping out dopamine and endorphins while the rest of your body gets to rest, de-stress, and heal by lowering cortisol levels. Think of it as the ultimate meditation!
You can do a one-time float, but multiple floats over the course of several days, weeks, or months is the ideal way to get maximum benefits. Visit their website for pricing and info.
Commune with the stars
Some folks feel a strong connection with astral bodies and the heavens above, and if that’s your jam, you’ll find plenty of ways to reset your celestial clock in Bend.
Wanderlust Tours lets you combine outdoor adventure with a chance to be dazzled by the night sky. In the wintertime, book one of their Moonlight or Starlight Snowshoe Tours, or their ever-popular Bonfire on the Snow snowshoe tours for the chance to revel in glittery fields of snow underfoot and glittery blankets of stars overhead. All gear, transportation, and snacks are provided, plus a knowledgeable naturalist guide.
In the summer months, they’ll take you out on one of the high Cascade Lakes with an epic Starlight or Moonlight Canoe Tour (the difference being the phase of the moon, of course). Your naturalist guide will point out constellations and planets, and pack your brain full of awesome information about everything from trees to animals to the geology of Central Oregon.
If you prefer your stargazing to be a bit more indoorsy (perhaps with a beer in hand?) check out the Hopservatory at Worthy Brewing. Brewery guests climb a spiral staircase or take the elevator to the third floor of the Hopservatory to witness one of the best views in Bend, with a stunning panorama from Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Hood.
Tours take you inside the 17-foot rotating Ash dome to view planets, galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, the moon, and the sun through their 16″ reflecting telescope. Visit their website for tour schedules and information.
For other stargazing options around Central Oregon, check out the Pine Mountain Observatory (located 26 miles southeast of Bend) or the Oregon Observatory at the Sunriver Nature Center (about 19 miles southwest of Bend).
Seek solitude on a hike
For me personally, there’s no better way to re-center myself than a hike in Central Oregon’s great outdoors.
Sometimes I crave the silence and solitude of a desert landscape like the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. Other times I want the power and splash of a waterfall. On other occasions, I’m looking to reconnect with family on a kid-friendly hike.
Whatever floats your boat, check out Visit Bend’s hiking page for lots of ideas. You can also snag a good hiking guide book in our Bend Visitor Center.
Make sure you incorporate Leave No Trace practices (like picking up litter and staying on the trail) when you’re out there hiking. You’ll find ideas on how to do that on our Visit Like a Local page. Speaking of which…
Pledge to leave Bend better than you found it
The New Year is all about vowing to do better for many of us, and one way to do that is by taking The Bend Pledge.
The idea is simple: Everyone who spends time in Bend is invited to vow they’ll abide by a set of values that Bend lovers hold near and dear. Things like kindness and courtesy, safety and respect. Everyone who takes the Bend pledge will be entered to win a Bend vacation that includes three nights of lodging, meals, and activities for the entire Bend stay.
Go here right now and take The Bend Pledge and start your New Year off on a positive note!
Is there anything more serene, more inspiring, more enchanting, than an evening spent gazing up at the stars in wonder?
While you can check out the astral wonders almost any time of year in Bend, summer is primo season for stargazing, with warmer nights and clear skies. Here are 6 spots in Bend and Central Oregon to get your star fix.
Pine Mountain Observatory
The crème de la crème when it comes to Central Oregon stargazing, the Pine Mountain Observatory is located 26 miles southeast of Bend at an elevation of 6,500. To put that into perspective, Bend is at 3,600 feet, so even during the warmest months of summer, you’ll want to pack a few extra layers to avoid freezing your butt off.
But oh what a view you’ll have once you get there! Since this observatory is part of the University of Oregon Physics Department, they have the biggest and best equipment you could possibly imagine. You can try out a telescope of aperture 15, 24, and 32-inches, or just wander around staring up at the sky with your naked eyes.
The facility is open to the public May through September, and hours are limited. Go here for schedule info, directions, and more useful details.
The Oregon Observatory at the Sunriver Nature Center
The stargazing in Central Oregon is so awesome, we have not one, but two observatories within 30 minutes of Bend!
Like Pine Mountain, the Oregon Observatory at the Sunriver Nature Center (which you’ll also see referenced as the Sunriver Observatory) requires a little drive time to reach. Located at the Sunriver Nature Center, the Observatory is about 19 miles southwest of Bend. They boast the largest collection of telescopes for public use in the entire country, which is pretty impressive. There are too many to describe them all, but you can go here to see a complete list of both lunar and solar telescopes.
The Oregon Observatory at the Sunriver Nature Center also boasts a nice, long season, with a schedule that spans from spring through fall and even offers some occasional wintertime hours. Their website has up-to-date info on everything from scheduled hours to private parties to school programs and more.
Bonus: Daytime viewings and solar telescopes give you a chance to scan the skies long before the sun sets.
Nighttime adventures with Wanderlust Tours
Looking for a way to combine outdoor adventure with a chance to be dazzled by the night sky? Wanderlust Tours has you covered whether it’s the height of summer or the chilly days of winter!
During the summer months, head out on one of the high Cascade Lakes with an epic Starlight or Moonlight Canoe Tour (the difference being the phase of the moon, of course). Your naturalist guide will point out constellations and planets, and pack your brain full of awesome information about everything from trees to animals to the geology of Central Oregon.
In the wintertime, take your pick between the Moonlight or Starlight Snowshoe Tours, or their ever-popular Bonfire on the Snow snowshoe tour. Both are a terrific way to revel in glittery fields of snow underfoot and glittery blankets of stars overhead.
No telescopes are needed, but they do provide all the gear you’ll need for canoeing or snowshoeing, plus snacks, transportation, and the best education you could possibly ask for on Bend’s natural wonders.
High Desert Museum
While there’s no planetarium or permanent exhibit devoted to the stars, you’ll frequently find programs and temporary exhibits celebrating the night sky at the High Desert Museum.
For instance, next week (July 25-29, 2016) there’s a Kids’ Camp for second and third graders called Out of This World. Kids will learn about Sir Isaac Newton, investigate zero gravity, explore the solar system, and even launch a rocket. While next week’s camp is full, there’s currently a wait list, so contact them if your little astronaut would like a shot at getting called up.
And in the meantime, keep your eyes on their website for more amazing programs and exhibits being added to the schedule constantly.
Set out on your own
Prefer to have a little privacy for your stargazing adventures? There are lots of spots to throw down your blanket and gaze heavenward for a clear view of the night sky.
If you want to stick close to the center of Bend, just seek out spots a bit removed from the bright lights of downtown or surrounding neighborhoods. Sprawl out on a soccer field at Pine Nursery Park, or don your headlamp for a sunset hike up Pilot Butte (uh, you’ll want to switch off that light for the best star views!)
Willing to drive a bit? The Oregon Badlands Wilderness just east of town is a nice wide-open area away from the city lights. Keep in mind you’re venturing into a wilderness area at night, so be smart about staying on the trails and sticking close to your vehicle.
Other primo spots for solo stargazing include the Dee Wright Observatory, anyplace east of Horse Butte, and any campsite up at the high Cascade Lakes.
Also, Brasada Ranch makes an excellent spot to enjoy a nice dinner and a bit of stargazing on the lawn before you head back to your Bend hotel or vacation rental.
Coming soon to Worthy Brewing
I’m jumping the gun a bit with this one, but I’m so freakin’ excited that it’s worth including!
Worthy Brewing is known for its killer beers, fabulous food, and unique location on the Northeast edge of Bend. It’s the unique location that puts them in a primo spot for stargazing, so the powers-that-be decided to do something about that.
Earlier this summer, they began construction on a brand new Hopservatory. The dome was installed earlier this week, and the brewery has ordered a state-of-the-art telescope that customers will be able to use.
The Hopservatory is expected to be complete sometime in the fall of 2016, but for those who want to scope things out a little early, Worthy has partnered up with the Oregon Observatory at the Sunriver Nature Center. From 8:30-10 p.m. on Monday, July 25, and Mondays August 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, Observatory staff will be on hand with a telescope for customers to use. They’ll also offer solar viewing on Saturdays from 12- 2 p.m. July 16, 23, and 30 as well as August 6, 13, 20, and 27.
Keep an eye on the Worthy Facebook page for news on grand openings and special star viewing parties. In the meantime, you’d better start sampling some Worthy beers so you know which pairs best with a heaping scoop of stars.