Bend has a lot of special places. It also has a lot of people who give back to these special places so that they stay beautiful for future visitors. Even as a tourist, you can get involved through a little voluntourism. What is Voluntourism? Well, Voluntourism is a similar experience to volunteer travel or a volunteer vacation and many people find that doing meaningful volunteer work while also participating in tourism is a great way to get the best of both worlds.
Read on below for a few ways that you can get involved in some voluntourism on your next visit to Bend. We thank you, in advance, for caring about these special places.
WANDERLUST CAVE CLEANUP
Did you know that Bend is home to hundreds of caves and lava tubes? It’s true, and it’s another great way to explore the area when the weather might not be so nice above ground. Throughout the year, caves serve as an important habitat to bats and other animals. Wanderlust Tours, a tour operator in Bend who offers cave tours, cares deeply for the natural areas in and around Bend, and it’s why they offer an annual Cave Cleanup event to keep these caves in good shape for the bats.
Please wear sturdy shoes and clothes that can get dirty. Bring gloves, water, and light layers (the caves are about 45 degrees). Jimmy John’s will provide a light lunch. Wanderlust will equip volunteers with helmets, headlamps, and trash bags. As we clean the caves, you’ll also enjoy some interpretation of the caves from their magnificent naturalist guides.
SMITH ROCK SPRING THING
Smith Rock State Park is one of the most popular state parks in all of Oregon, and for good reason. Rock climbers have been flocking to the umber colored walls of Smith Rock since the beginning of sport climbing, but its offerings don’t stop there. With miles of hiking trails leading to vistas worthy of million dollar views, the Crooked River carving through the park, and even a campground, Smith Rock State Park has something for everyone.
Each spring, over 200 volunteers get together for the annual Smith Rock Spring Thing, an organized event that gathers climbers, hikers, and lovers of the park to give back through trail work, trash pickup, and fix stairs, among other projects. Volunteers are rewarded with a most excellent party afterwards, but more importantly, the good feeling that you helped to keep a special place so very special.
Bend is home to nearly 300 miles of singletrack that you can access right from your hotel or vacation rental. Bend’s trails are worthy of such accolades as “Bike Town USA” from Mountain Bike Magazine, and the home of Bike Magazine’s Bike Bible. There’s only one thing better than mountain biking in Bend, OR and that’s riding in Bend, knowing that you helped build and maintain the trails you love. Meet up with 100 of your closest riding buddies and spend the morning working on our local trails!
Central Oregon Trail Alliance is making things happen at their annual Biketoberfest trail work party, and needs your help to put some of our favorite riding spots to bed for the winter. After you’re done putting in the trail work, Pine Mountain Sports will be hosting the post-work BBQ on the lawn, complete with lunch and a free beer.
MT. BACHELOR MOUNTAIN CLEANUP DAY
As the snow melts away from Mt. Bachelor, and the summer season comes to an end, a lot of things that don’t belong on the mountain end up there. Garbage, lost cell phones, more garbage, and well, you get the point. Enter Mountain Cleanup Day from Mt. Bachelor. They provide the trash bags and offer all participants a free ride up the Pine Marten lift. From there, they’ll be assigned an area to hike back down to West Village while collecting litter along the way.
After you turn in your trash back at the bottom, you’re more than welcome to take another trip up the lift and see the sights, enjoy lunch, or grab a cold drink. As a token of their thanks for your participation, Mt. Bachelor will offer a FREE one day lift ticket, valid for the following winter season, to the first 400 participants. Proper footwear, gloves, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, layers, and a pack with water and snacks are strongly recommended for this fun and sustainable day of high alpine adventure.
DESCHUTES RIVER CLEANUP
The Deschutes River is important to every part of Bend’s economy. From the water it delivers to farmers, to the fish who call it home, the river is a way of life in Bend. For these reasons, river lovers come together every spring to clean up and give back to the river, as part of the annual Deschutes River Cleanup.
This past year, 200 dedicated volunteers came out to clean up our river, and removed 1,400 pounds of garbage from the river and its banks! From divers to paddlers to shoreline hikers, we collected 67 bags of litter and weeds from the riparian area and 25 bags of instream debris.
This year we can do even better, with your help.