Lucy S., Freshman
Where is your favorite place to travel? Europe, Mexico, Iceland, or even Canada? Although there are so many amazing places in this world that we will never be able to go, travelling in the US is definitely a great way to start. One of my favorite places by far, is Bend, Oregon. The location is nestled in the mountains of Central Oregon and the Deschutes National Forest, just a 6-hour drive or so from Seattle, Bend is a place for everyone. From incredible scenery to exquisite outdoor exertions, Bend won’t let you down.
As of 2018, Bend’s estimated population is 94,520 according to the most recent United States census estimates. The small town is quickly growing in size, and property prices are exploding. My family was lucky enough to buy a house in 2015, when prices were relatively stable. We get down there as much as we can, and there is always plenty to do.
In the summer, my favorite activities include hiking, backpacking, paddle boarding, and biking. Just around 20 miles west of Bend are dozens of the Cascade Lakes. Paddle boarding, fishing, boating, and so much more are available on these lakes. Many of them have trails around the perimeter that are accessible to hikers and bikes. There are also numerous trails with hiker and horse access that have breathtaking scenery. Mountains such as The Three Sisters (North, Middle, and South), Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, Mt. Washington, Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, and Black Butte all have a wide variety of hiking trails. They range from easy, hard, and anywhere in between. However, the best part is the short drive. Here in Seattle, amazing outdoor opportunities are hours away. Mount Rainier is almost two hours away, while Mt. Bachelor and these beautiful lakes are just an effortless twenty-minute drive from town!
In the winter, cross-country and downhill skiing options are plentiful. Mt. Bachelor, a 3,683-acre ski resort with ten lifts, has amazing powder and over 100 runs. People there are laid back and love chatting on the lifts. If you are looking for a less thrilling skiing experience, Mt. Bachelor’s Nordic Center has dozens of cross-country trails ranging in difficulty. Mt. Bachelor is desirable for the whole family! My mom enjoys skiing at the Nordic Center, while I like life up on the mountain. An alternative option for cross-country skiing is Virginia Meissner; named after a lover of outdoors, born in Salem. This snow park includes over forty kilometers of groomed terrain, and a beautiful, heated lodge at the trailhead. It is a non-profit organization that appreciates donations and is even closer to Bend.
This spring, one of Northwest’s very own Summits is headed to the Deschutes National Forest in Central Oregon (near Bend) for an overnight backpacking trip! Students participating will learn about the history of the Deschutes River, including its significance to Native American tribes, as well as the environmental impact of dams and railroad operations along the river. What a great outdoor opportunity!
If you are looking for a more upscale lifestyle, Sunriver Resort, just south of Bend is the perfect place to go. A developed, small community has everything you need within a few miles: A grocery store, restaurant, plenty of shopping, and even a waterpark, are available in Sunriver. A great -but difficult- bike ride from Lava Butte, just outside of Bend, to Sunriver is an enjoyable summer and fall activity. Along miles of volcanic rock, the trail is well maintained and peaceful. But be sure to leave the whole day for it, or you’ll be biking back ten miles in the dark!
Our favorite destination in Sunriver is Sunriver Brewing Company, we always go there on our bike rides. Stopping for drinks, some food, and an inviting atmosphere is an awesome way to split up the bike ride. Sunriver Brewing also has a Bend location. On top of that, there are lots more great breweries in Bend such as Deschutes Brewing Co, Ten Barrel Brewing, Silver Moon Brewing Co, and Boneyard Brewing that are easily accessible by bike. Since my family is obsessed with brew pubs, I am forced to go. However, it is often enjoyable. Parents may go for the great beer but there is also great food for all!
So next time your family doesn’t have any travel plans on the upcoming break, consider taking a little road trip down to Bend. I guarantee you will fall in love.