Come summertime, life is nonstop for those living and traveling in Bend. Central Oregon’s mountains, cold rivers, and inviting people represent a rainbow of colors in the community—activities and symbols beloved in the region rise like the sun. We’ve prepared a color-coded guide chock-full of outdoor experiences, new ways to imbibe, and how to best relax at home for your sweetest summer yet.
Get up early and grab a Castro, the citrus-ginger-mint cold brew with simple syrup, white cream, and twist of orange from Spoken Moto, a café and old mechanic shop where vintage motorcycles are reclaimed and restored. You might just come home with a new summer road trip toy. Head down the road for a full immersion whitewater-kayaking weekend offered by Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe. Students spend time on the Deschutes and McKenzie Rivers with other novice kayakers looking to learn the ways of whitewater. If a road trip and picnic sounds like more your thing, head north to Oregon’s Tygh Valley for a short hike at the lesser explored White River Falls State Park, where rushing water drops 90 feet from dramatic basalt cliffs and a historic hydroelectric power plant sits at the base of the falls.
Grab a basket of mouth-watering Berkey’s Organic Blueberries grown along the south Santiam River at the Bend Farmers Market (locations downtown or Eastside). Get there on your summer commuter, a blue J. Livingston cruiser made from recycled steel and assembled by local bike shop Bend Velo, then get down to this year’s Grammy-recognized lineup, including John Mayall and Shemekia Copeland, at the Sisters Rhythm and Brews Festival in early August. Finally, cool off in the clear blue waters of a local Oregon oasis—whether dipping from a float at Bend’s Whitewater Park, splashing down from a SUP on one of the Cascade Lakes or exploring the namesake Blue Pool, (Tamolitch Pool) off the McKenzie River Trail.
You can’t talk about Central Oregon without mentioning the region’s green side—iconic ponderosa-pine woodlands and western juniper forests. Sign up for local hikes and volunteer trips with the Deschutes Land Trust, a local land and wildlife conservation nonprofit. Their summer schedule is packed with everything from free mountain biking for women, to salmon- and summer-wildflower walks, plus trail restoration and birding opportunities. Afterwards, drink up and do some good with a pint of the Sustainable Session Series at GoodLife Brewing Company. Good Life will donate a portion of sales to the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project for their work to protect forest health and resiliency. DeschutesLandTrust.org
Whether hiking or biking, you’ll find plenty of red reminders of our volcanic history. Discover one of the best examples by hiking or shuttling up Red Cinder Road to reach the Lava Butte fire lookout within Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Lava Butte Cinder Cone rises to 5,020 feet, where visitors take in panoramic views of the Cascade Range and peer into a deep crater from the quarter-mile loop that surrounds the rim. In Bend, cool down (and fill up) with a Milwaukie Mary at Washington Dining & Cocktails. This part-drink-part-appetizer comes in a 32-ounce Mason jar filled with habañero and fresno chili-infused vodka, house-made Bloody Mary mix, two skewers of shrimp, cheeseburger, bacon, and pickled veggies, plus a half-pint beer on the side. Prefer watching a blazing sunset? Relax in a red Hatteras hammock—tufted and filled with fibers made from recycled, plastic drinking bottles.