Sisters Folk Festival Returns

sisters folk festival
Black Lillies at Melvin’s. Rob Kerr / SFF


The Sisters Folk Festival is back for 2018, after a wild one-year hiatus due to wildfire smoke that choked the region last summer.

The 23rd annual festival happens Sept. 7-9 and features more than 40 acts on 11 stages throughout the small town, providing a much-needed folk fix for visitors and residents alike. More than 4,000 fans are expected at the festival, providing a vibrant atmosphere throughout the town.

“The best part about the entire experience is the vibe in Sisters that weekend,” said Ann Richardson, the festival’s director. “People cruise from venue to venue walking, on their bikes, or on our shuttle; blissed out from the amazing music and sense of community the experience in Sisters.”

If you’ve never visited Sisters, be prepared to take a step back in time to the days of no stop-light towns and western storefronts. The tiny village of just about 2,000 people is chock full of mom-and-pop stores selling souvenirs and great food. Come June it’s the rodeo capital of the world; in July it’s home to the largest outdoor quilt show in the world.

But in September, it’s all about the music.

Eric Bibb performing at the Five Pines venue, Saturday session of the Sisters Folk Festival.

The venues range from the lawn at FivePine Lodge to the Belfry (a converted church) to Village Green Park and the Depot Cafe.

Richardson said there are some great options for everyone – including those who don’t want to buy a ticket. Free music is available on the Fir Street Park stage or the Sisters Coffee Company stage. Or, she said, visitors can hang out in the Village Green and hear great music all weekend long.

Sunday morning’s free show features the best of the best of the festival.

Artists love coming to the festival because its known for having a “listening-oriented” audience, Richardson said, and patrons love coming because everyone is so into the music.

The 2018 lineup is headlined by Justin Townes Earle, Dar Williams and Robbie Fulks.

Beyond the music, the Village Green Park will be filled with local vendors and artists selling jewelry, artwork, pottery and more. And those looking to step away from the music for a bit can take a mountain bike ride on the Pederson Ridge trail system or venture into Bend for some hiking and whitewater rafting.

Tickets are still available and a full schedule of artists will be available mid-August. Richardson says it’s a great idea to plan your festival experience in advance.


Deschutes County Fair: Food, Family Fun & Farm Animals Galore

Every summer for the last 90+ years, folks have flocked to Redmond, Oregon for five days of food, family-friendly fun, farm animals and great music at the Deschutes County Fair and Rodeo.

The 2018 Fair and Rodeo runs August 1-5 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center near the airport and Juniper Golf Course. The fair features a full rodeo each day, a massive midway with tons of rides and games, plenty of food vendors and nightly concerts.

It’s been touted as America’s Greatest County Fair – and who are we to argue?

The concert line-up for this year is pretty amazing and includes:

America – August 1st
Big & Rich Featuring Cowboy Troy – August 2nd
Grand Funk Railroad – August 3rd
Gary Allan – August 4th

Concerts are FREE with a concert pass and paid gate admission!
Concerts are in the First Interstate Bank Center
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Shows start at 7:00 p.m.

To obtain your FREE concert pass, listen to KSJJ 102.9 and KQAK 105.7 from now through June 30th.
The Bulletin and GO! Magazine will be giving away FREE concert passes from now through June 30th! Follow these publications to find out how and where to pick up your FREE passes.

Starting Wednesday, July 4th all Central Oregon McDonald’s Restaurant’s will be giving away concert passes from 2pm –7pm each Wednesday while supplies last. No purchase is necessary. Walk in only, no drive through.

2018 Daily Admission Prices:

  • Adults (13+) $12/day
  • Children (6-12) $7/day
  • Children (5 yrs & under) FREE
  • Seniors (62 and over) $7/day
  • SUNDAY – $6 admission for EVERYONE!

Fair Hours

  • Wednesday and Thursday: 10:00AM – 10:00PM
  • Friday and Saturday: 10:00AM – 11:00PM
  • Sunday: 10:00AM – 5:00PM

If you’re looking for a place to stay for your fair experience, here’s a full listing of our lodging partners in Redmond and nearby in Bend.

Summer Season Arrives at Mt. Bachelor (Video)

The summer recreation season is officially upon us and Mt. Bachelor has kicked off yet another year of mountain biking, hiking, sunset dinners and more. The ski area’s summer activity menu includes chairlift rides, weekend sunset dinners and Gravity Sports summer camps for kids and teens. The scenic lift rides are $20 for those age 13-64, $17 for seniors (65 & up) and $14 for youth 12 and under.

Once you reach the top, you can have lunch, grab a snack or a beer on the deck at Pine Marten Lodge. You can hit the trails and hike around the mountain – even experience some SNOW on the year-round snowfields. Or, bring your discs for a round of disc golf.

Summer Sightseeing on Mt. Bachelor

The much anticipated downhill mountain bike park runs daily from June 16, 2018 through the close of the 2018 biking season (typically late September or early October). Bike park lift tickets will cost $42 for a full day pass for adults and $34 for those 12 and under.

The lift-served bike park had been in the works for years as Mt. Bachelor looked to make the ski area a true four-season destination for adventure seekers. The lifts give mountain bikers access to 13 miles of downhill trails starting at the top of the Pine Marten lift.

The Sunshine Bike Park provides access to a great progression of trails and is the perfect place for new bike park riders to build confidence and get quick laps. If you have your own mountain bike it is probably perfect for the Sunshine trails. The young ones in the family will especially love the Sunshine Park, doing lap after lap on Friday evening while the adults in the family kick back and relax on the West Village Deck.

Access to the Sunshine Park is $19.

Before you go:

The following items are required in order to ride a bike in Mt. Bachelor’s Downhill Bike Park:

  • Chairlift ticket
  • Helmet
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • A bike with functioning front and rear brakes

The following items are strongly recommended when riding in Mt. Bachelor’s Downhill Bike Park:

  • A bike with full suspension (at least 5″ of travel)
  • A bike with disc brakes
  • Full-face helmet
  • Armor/padding and gloves

bachelor mtb park 2

Central Oregon mountain biking offers a very wide range of terrain for riders of all skill levels, but the current downhill park is designed for advanced or expert riders right now. That will all change in the coming years when more terrain is added. In fact, new cross country trails are being built ahead of the 2015 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships.

Visit the Mt. Bachelor website for all the details.

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Pull Off For a Central Oregon Adventure

 Sparks Lake on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway in Central Oregon

Distance from Bend

Dillon Falls – 11 Miles
Wanoga Sno-Park- 15 Miles
Mt. Bachelor – 22 Miles
Sparks Lake – 25 Miles
Elk Lake Resort – 32 Miles
Lava Lake – 39 Miles
Crane Prairie Reservoir – 42 Miles

The Cascade Lakes Scenic byway is one of the prettiest drives in the U.S. (hence the “scenic” designation.) But it might be the most recreationally rich road you’ll ever drive too. From Bend southwest to the Highway 58 junction, the Oregon Route 372 cuts through 66 miles unique volcanic formations and geological beauty that offers everything that makes Central Oregon an outdoor lover’s paradise. Bring a camera along with a canoe, kayak, road bike, mountain bike, fishing gear, hiking shoes, skis, snowshoes, snowboards and camping equipment. This is a road you’ll want to pull off for adventure along the way. The byway starts out as Century Drive in Bend, and even before you leave the city limits, you’ll find trailheads just off the road. From small, dirt parking areas, you can explore hundreds of miles of Central Oregon mountain bike trails that are gaining traction as some of the best in the country.

Mountain Biking in Bend, Oregon
courtesy Cog Wild

A little further up the road you can hang a left and drive about five miles to the trailhead for Benham Falls, Dillon Falls and Lava Island along the Deschutes River trail. Continue up the byway and you’ll find winter sno-parks turned summer playgrounds. The Wanoga Sno-park is becoming a popular parking area for mountain bikers thanks to a growing trail system on that side of the byway that includes such routes as “Tiddlywinks” and “Funner.” There’s a kids BMX pump track there as well.

Mt. Bachelor

Get your camera ready as you head farther up the road and round a corner where you’re greeted with a majestic view of Mt. Bachelor. The largest ski area in the Pacific Northwest is now a true four-season resort with the addition of a downhill mountain bike park to a summer slate already filled with lift-served hiking, disc golf and sunset dinners at the mid-mountain lodge that takes sightseers up to 7,700 feet. The views of the Cascades from there are brilliant.

Summer Sightseeing on Mt. Bachelor
Summer chairlift ride at Mt. Bachelor

Across the street from the Bachelor parking lot, Dutchman Flat Sno-Park. Several great Central Oregon hikes originate here, including a short, but somewhat steep climb up Tumalo Mountain. You’ll gain about 1,200 feet of elevation in just 1.8 miles up, and the views at the top are well worth it.  The 3.6 mile round trip hike is a good one for kids as well. (Be wary of lingering snow well into the early summer months and come winter, this is a popular snowshoe trail.) One of the more popular mountain bike rides – a 25 miler dubbed “Bachelor to Bend” that features a lot of ridiculously fun downhill sections suitable for even novice riders also starts at this trailhead. (You can also do a fun loop and arrive back in the parking lot to continue on your merry (by)way.)

SUP at Sparks Lake - Central Oregon
Sparks Lake

Up next, about 28 miles from Bend is the turnoff for Sparks Lake, the first of the high alpine lakes along the byway and a hugely popular spot for non-motorized water sports, especially stand up paddling. (Even Outside Magazine says so.) It’s a Central Oregon postcard in itself, sitting in the shadows of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top and the 10,358-foot South Sister. The Green Lakes Trail parking area is across the byway from Sparks Lake. This popular trail can be done by itself or you can use it to access the lengthy trail that summits South Sister. Hiking, fishing and secluded, walk-in camping awaits at nearby Todd and Devil’s Lake as well.

South Sister-hiker beneath
A hiker contemplates South Sister.

As the road snakes behind the ski area another resort appears. Elk Lake Resort is the perfect spot to bask in the summer sun on a rented sailboat, canoe or kayak. Grab a meal at the restaurant inside or snag one of the campsites and do some cooking of your own. Cultus Lake and Wickiup Reservoir are a bit further down the road and both are great places to fish and watch for wildlife, including Bald Eagles and owls.

Elk Lake sailboats in Central Oregon
Elk Lake Resort

Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Brings Fabric Artists to Central Oregon

Blankets keep you warm.

Quilts tell a story.

So imagine all the tales to be told at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show on the second Saturday of July, when the streets of this small Central Oregon town are blanketed (pun intended) with the creative tapestries woven by thousands of quilters from around the world.

For quilters, every stitch has a purpose. Each quilt has meaning.

I know this because my mother is a quilter and her mom was a quilter too. I have several of her hand-sewn creations, including my personal favorite “Star T” quilt that features my name, “Ted” discreetly sewn throughout. Each of my children has their own quilt from grandma (as do a couple of their dolls.) And the “wedding quilt” is one of our most prized possessions. Some of my grandma’s quilts have seen better days – a little frayed around the edges thanks to 40+ years of use. But they’re no worse for wear, serving as the perfect picnic blanket, dog bed, and beach towel when called upon.

Some quilters would be offended if their creations weren’t heavily used. Others look at the quilts like paintings, and are more likely to be hung on a wall than be found on a bed.

According to the Quilt Show organizers, more than 10,000 visitors from all 50 states and 27 foreign countries attend the show each year. It’s a bucket list event for true quilters and paradise for those who appreciate the woven arts. (What’s more, a stop at the Stitchin’ Post fabric store is a must-do for quilters looking for new designs, inspiration and some pointers from local experts.)

It’s a hands-on event for sure with master quilt makers teaching classes and leading workshops all week long. According to the quilt show folks, hundreds more are displayed in “show-and-tell exhibits” for first-time quilters, youth quilters and – get this – quilts made by men! The quilters range in age from 10 to 92.

Many of the quilters will be on hand near their displays to talk to you about their work. Be sure to seek them out and learn the story behind the stitch.



Hooked on a Feeling: First Central Oregon Fly Fishing Trip a Success

Under blue skies scattered with beauty clouds, we hopped into a 21-foot fishing boat on the banks of Lava Lake.

Cruising slowly to avoid a wake, we passed a few other Tuesday morning anglers who waved at us as if to say “have fun, but don’t take our fish.”

We found our spot on the far edge of the lake, let loose the anchors and got to work.

Fred, our guide from The Hook Fly Shop, handed me a fly rod, gave me a couple of quick pointers and I cast my first line – my first line ever – into the glass-like water.

Less than a minute later, I reeled in a pretty little rainbow trout.

They kept biting, we kept reeling them in. All told, some 33 fish found their way onto our hooks over the course of a couple of hours. Everything from “pizza toppings” to a few 17-inchers. (A few of the “big ones” taunted us, jumping from the water near the boat as a reminder they were still out there…happy to remain the ones who got away.)

“It can’t be this easy,” I thought. But in Central Oregon, it is.

You see, here, fishing is actually fishing. A sport. An activity. Don’t take your eyes off the indicator for a second or you might just miss the next bite. The BIG one.

For a rookie like me, going with a guide was a perfect introduction to the sport.

They’ll get you to the lake. They’ll get you on the boat. They’ll put the rod in your hands and show you exactly how to throw a cast. And they’ll even pull in the fish and take it off the hook. In between catches, they’ll entertain with fishing stories and Central Oregon history.

All you have to do is pose for the photo with your fish and act like you knew what you were doing. Because by the end, you totally will. And just like all the fish, you’ll be hooked.

As we headed back to the shore, we waved again to the anglers we passed before.

“Sorry, we took all your fish.”

A Patriotic and Fun 4th in Central Oregon

Summer in Central Oregon offers a feast for the adventurous and respite for the relaxers. Come 4th of July, add to that plenty of patriotism.

This year it falls on a Wednesday  – possibly creating a whole FIVE-day weekend for a lot of people. It’ll be a great weekend to find a great hike, play some golf at one of the two dozen courses here or maybe get crazy with a whitewater rafting trip.

Big Eddy Thriller

You couldn’t have picked a better place to celebrate the 4th.

On the 4th, Bend features one of the quirkiest celebrations you’ll ever see – The annual 4th of July Pet Parade is exactly what it sounds like: Thousands of people and their pets parading through downtown in front of some 10,000 spectators. You’ll find all sorts of animals including cats, llamas, mini horses and a dog held airborne by balloons. (You just have to see it to believe it.) The parade starts at 1o a.m. and is immediately followed by an Old Fashioned 4th Celebration down the street in Drake Park. The party features food vendors, arts and craft booths, games for kids, music and much more.


Fireworks across Central Oregon
Bend: Pilot Butte, 10 p.m.
Redmond: Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, 10 p.m.
La Pine: Frontier Heritage Park, 10 p.m.
Prineville: Reservoir State Park, 10 p.m.
Madras: Sahalee Park, 10 p.m.

After an afternoon of floating the river or heading up to the high lakes to beat the heat, end the holiday by finding a good spot to watch the fireworks show from atop Pilot Butte State Park at 10 p.m. (Local tip – Bend High School and Pilot Butte Middle School (click for maps) both offer good spots to see the show.)

Redmond’s “We the People 4th of July Parade” through downtown kicks off at 10 a.m. downtown followed by an Old Fashioned 4th celebration at the fairgrounds from 11 to 4.  This free event features a day of games, bounce houses, petting zoo, pony rides, live music and more. For more information please call 541-548-7275 or visit fireworks show starts at 10 p.m. at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center.

In Sunriver, the day starts with a bike parade at 10:30 followed by an all-day celebration with lots of free entertainment. Enter the watermelon eating contest, or try your skills at “Hoops” or “Batter’s Up.” Stop by and see the cool fire and police vehicles and talk with our local Police Officers and Fire Fighters. There will be live music, a BBQ lunch and more.

La Pine’s Frontier Days actually start on July 1st with a variety of family-friendly activities, cook-outs, live music and more. On the 4th the party starts at 7 a.m. with a “Woodcutter’s Breakfast” followed by a parade at 10:30.

The theme for Madras’s 2018 4th of July is, “Let Freedom Ring!” The day starts off with the Beamer 10k Run at 7:00 am, followed with by the parade at 10 a.m. The celebration continues with an Opening Flag Ceremony, music, food vendors, face painting and more.

Prineville will host a 4th of July celebration from 10 to 4 featuring entertainment, a Splash n’ Dash race, Willy’s Washboard Jamboree and more. Fireworks happen at 10.

To see a full listing of all the events and activities slated for the July 4th holiday weekend, visit our Calendar.

FREE Summer Shuttle Takes the Hassle out of Bend Parking

Bend gets pretty busy in the summer and, admittedly, it can be hard to find parking downtown and in the Old Mill – two of the most popular spots to shop, eat and recreate. But a new FREE shuttle service hopes to alleviate some of the troubles by helping folks navigate our hot spots car free.

Ride Bend will start up again in late June, offering free shuttle runs from noon to 10 p.m. The two buses run every 15 minutes and connect downtown, the Old Mill, OSU-Cascades and Galveston Avenue (home to 10 Barrel Brewing, Sunriver Brewing Co. and more.)

This service was made possible by a partnership between The City of Bend, Visit Bend, and Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council.


The 2018 season will run June 23 through Labor Day, 7 days a week,

The major stops are listed below and the time after the hour that the bus will arrive. For example, if you are boarding from the Downtown stop, you can expect the bus at 2:00, 2:15, 2:30 and 2:45. The bus will follow the minute pattern every hour between 2 and 10 pm.

A) Downtown (Franklin Ave. & Wall St.) :00 :15 :30 :45

B) Old Mill District (Powerhouse & Wall St.) :05 :20 :35 :50

C) Century Dr (Century Dr. & Simpson Ave.) :20 :35 :50 :05

D) Galveston (Galveston Ave. and 13th St.) :22 :37 :52 :07

Ride Bend Bus Stops:
Look for the Ride Bend logo on the bus and bus stops around Bend. Hop on at any stop on the Ride Bend map and ride to eat, shop, and play. Easy!

*Parking is free in downtown Bend for 2 hours. But you can park all day for $5 in the parking garage off Lava Street. THE PARKING GARAGE IS FREE ALL WEEKEND

The Central Oregon Adventure 6-Pack

Bill Breneman

6 Adventures…1 Day….A  Lifetime of Memories

“You should do it,” they said.

“Think about how cool it’d be,” they told me.

“You get to do it during the work day, ya know,” they reminded me.

So I said yes.

I agreed to embark upon what, for me, would be the ultimate one-day Central Oregon adventure. An adventure to showcase all that is glorius each spring in Central Oregon.

The Central Oregon Adventure 6-Pack. (OK, so that’s the best we could come up with..but hey, it’s got a beer theme, right?)

  1. Sunrise hike at Smith Rock
  2. Cinder Cone run at Mt. Bachelor
  3. 9 Holes at Widgi Creek
  4. Mountain bike ride at Phil’s Trail
  5. Kayak on the Deschutes River
  6. Complete the ENTIRE Bend Ale Trail.


Smith Rock at Sunrise/Clint Melsha

Sunrise at Smith Rock

A 5 a.m. alarm comes pretty early when you’re the father of an 8-week old who demands to sleep on your chest from 4 a.m. on. It’s also tempting to hit the snooze button a thousand times knowing you’re waking up to a hike called “Misery Ridge.”

But I rolled my little girl on to the bed and hit the shower on what I knew was going to be one of the best days of my life.

We arrived at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne just before 6 a.m. fueled with coffee, Cheerios and adrenaline. The day would be a marathon, and any thoughts we had of turning the opening hike into a sprint were quickly erased. Misery Ridge sounds a little more daunting than it is, but it’s still a leg burner no matter what time of day you hit the trail.

We opted for the four-mile loop, which includes about 1,400 feet of elevation gain. But the reward at the top is most certainly worth any bit of pain you experienced on the way up. Smith Rock, one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon, is a breathtakingly unique part of our state with sheer rock cliffs rising abruptly from the banks of the Crooked River below.

As we were heading back down the trail, the parking lot was beginning to bustle with climbers eager to get an early start.

Elena Pressprich

The Cone Run

More coffee and a sense of “maybe the worst is behind us” pushed us back to Bend and up the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway to Mt. Bachelor. We arrived just as the chairs started running, but our goal was to bypass the motorized lift to the top and hike the “cone” and for me to take a run that’s a rite of passage for Bendites.

The cinder cone is adjacent to the ski area and a favorite of skiers wanting to “earn their turns” and get fresh tracks on powder days. The cone is open all day every day and it’s free to ride the 715 feet of vertical drop. Assuming of course, you’re willing to hike the 715 of vertical ascent.

It didn’t sound all that bad considering we’d just hiked up twice that at Smith Rock. But it was a little different taking a hike in fresh snow, wearing too-small snowboard boots and carrying your board on a backpack.

After several “hey, let’s stop and take in the view/desperately gasping for my breath” breaks we made it to the top. Once again, the reward was worth the effort. (I’m sensing a theme here.) I sat down on the top of the cone to take it all in. I had been to the mountain dozens of times over the years and always looked up to the cone as something beyond my level of expertise.

“Mission accomplished” I thought as I strapped in and carved my way down the mountain toward some more fun thinking “why in the world hadn’t I done this before?”

Welcome to “The Widg”

After we loaded up the car in the Bachelor parking lot and grabbed a world famous burrito from the ski area’s Nordic center we headed back into town to Widgi Creek Golf Club, which we passed on the road up to the mountain earlier.

This, I wasn’t worried about. I served as the assistant golf professional here from 2005 to 2010 and looked forward to the nice little walk that the front 9 offers. By now, the sun was up and it was starting to feel a little more like spring and there were just a few people on the golf course. That was probably a good thing with the pace we were walking (not fast) and the number of strokes my buddy was taking each hole (many.)

But even as he was having me write down his double bogey on the scorecard, he couldn’t get over how good the course looked so early in the season. And, even more surprisingly, we played in right at 2 hours. I’ve played nearly every course in Central Oregon (we have 30)  and people always ask me “what’s your favorite golf course?” That’s impossible to answer, but if I could only play one course every  single day, I’d probably tee it up at “The Widg.”

Phil? Phil? PHIL!?!

By now our legs were good and warmed up. And tired. And maybe not ready to pedal our bikes for a little more than 7 miles at Phil’s Trail.

But, we thought, at least there’d be some downhill sections so we’d get to rest albeit briefly for a few minutes at a time. We rolled through the parking area up the slight climb of Ben’s Trail to MTB before veering up Kent’s, over to KGB (here’s the ride) back down to the Flaming Chicken and down Phil’s Trail back to the trail along the road to Skyliners and back to our car. Normally this ride takes me about 40 minutes – when it’s the only thing I’ve done all day. Today…well, let’s just say I took in the scenery a little more than usual and we got back to the care in about an hour.

Floating the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon

A River Runs Through It

As comfortable as I am on a golf course I am twice as uncomfortable on water. But that was part of the challenge – get out on a kayak on the Deschutes. I wasn’t going far and I knew I could probably touch the river bottom if I happened to fall out.

Still, my heart was beating a little more quickly with this one. Luckily I had set up a little informal lesson with Laurel from Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe. She put me at ease and stayed with us as we paddled upstream to the Healy Bridge, which was very hard for me by the way, and back to the shop, which sits right on the bank of the river.

I’m not saying I’m planning to go out and buy a kayak now, but I can say I wouldn’t be opposed to renting one for a relaxing float on one of the high lakes come summer. And for me, that’s a huge step.

Down the Hatch, Again and again and (hiccup!)

My first steps out of the kayak must have looked like the first steps of a newborn horse. A little wobbly to say the least. But, I took some confident steps toward the car knowing the “exercise” portion of the day was complete. It was, as they say, all over but the drinking.

Next up was a hike of a different sort – a hike along the Bend Ale Trail. Sixteen breweries!! stretching from Bend to Sisters with the help of the John Flannery and the Bend Tour Company. (No way we were going to ruin this epic day by drinking and driving.)

And we wouldn’t be doing all that much drinking. Yes, we planned to hit all the pubs on the trail, but no, we didn’t plan on having a full beer at each one. A taster (and appetizer) at each would suffice for crossing this final adventure off our 6-pack list.

We did, though, start off toasting our day with a well-deserved full pint of Bachelor Bitter and a burger at Deschutes Brewery. We hit up Bend Brewing Company next, McMenamins, Silver Moon, 10 Barrel, Cascade Lakes Brewing, Worthy….etc. until we had just one stamp left to get.

We ended the day with a  beer, our final stamp and a high five at the Crux Fermentation Project. My wife and daughter came by just in time to see  the kind of sunset Central Oregon is known for. Sunsets that for many of us from time to time, are the perfect exclamation point on the perfectly fun-filled day.

I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, with my head spinning – not because of the beer, but from thinking of all the reasons I love living in Central Oregon.

That alarm – in the form of my daughter – came early again the next morning.

(editors note: This adventure is an extreme example of what awaits you in Central Oregon. And while you could, of course, actually do all these things in one day in the spring, the author actually did not.)

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Pets Welcome! Central Oregon a Dog-Friendly Vacation Paradise

dog with suitcaseSometimes when planning a vacation the toughest decisions aren’t about what to pack….but what to leave behind. Namely – your dog.

Typically you have only a couple of choices: beg a friend to watch him for a week or spend more on a pet boarding service than you’re spending to “board” your family during the trip.

But if you can find room in the mini-van, Rover is more than welcome in Central Oregon. Considering how much we love our pups (nearly half the people in the region own dogs and Dog Fancy Magazine has named Bend “Dog Town USA”) it’s no wonder many of the region’s hotels and businesses are so dog-friendly.

From simple gestures like water bowls placed on the sidewalks outside local businesses to one hotel marquis after another reading “Pets Welcome,” Central Oregon gets that your family’s adventure includes your pup.

taylor - george smith rock

Dog-Friendly Lodging and Welcome Treats

If you’re planning to visit Sunriver, your first choice should be uber dog-friendly Bennington Properties. They offer everyone (even those not staying at a Bennington property) access to their complimentary Self-Service Dog Wash and Off-Leash Recreation Area. They provide the towels, shampoo, warm water, brushes, fully fenced recreation area and tub. You provide the dog! (Dirty dog, that is.) Here’s a list of their dog-friendly homes.

According to, a website devoted to finding the highest-rated pet-friendly places to stay, Riverhouse on the Deschutes in Bend earned a coveted “Fido’s Favorite” award a couple of years ago. That means it scored at least “4-bones” in a 1 to 5 bone scale, which fewer than 5 percent of all pet-friendly accommodations earn. With Sawyer Park and entrance to the Deschutes River Trail just a block away, this location is great for active dogs. The pet fee at Riverhouse on the Deschutes is $25 per day per animal.

Stay at The Oxford Hotel, where your best furry friend is always welcome. For $55 plus tax, per visit, per pet, you can purchase the Pet Package that includes a personal pet bed proportional to the size of your pet, two travel dog bowls for your use—one is a gift to keep (score!)—Joshua Tree Pet Salve sample, organic dog treats, a map of dog walking trails and parks, and loaner leashes and collars. For additional fees you can take advantage of dog walking services, grooming services and pet massages. A real treat and spa-like experience for any pup.

For $15 per pet per night, you can share a room with your doggie at the much-loved McMenamins Old St. Francis School. McMenamins also has outdoor courtyard areas that welcome dogs. Go from your room straight to dinner together!

More pet-friendly lodging options in Sunriver can be found through Village Properties, which offers a wide variety of rentals including cabins, condos and houses.

Following the very latest in pet-friendly trends, Sunriver Resort will even welcome your furry friends to take part in your wedding!

Forget something? No problem.

Bend Pet Express is your one-stop shop for anything and everything for your pets. This locally-owned pet store has been a fixture here for 25 years. The two locations – East and West side – are bound to be close to where you’re staying or exploring. They’ll even deliver food right to your hotel or vacation home.

Enjoy Outdoor Dining and Brews With Your Pup

Do you enjoy a great pint of microbrew outside on a warm summer evening? In Bend, there are many pubs that welcome dogs with their owners (leashed, of course) to join in on the fun!

On most days, you’ll find a happy dog, or two, or three, or more hanging out on the patio at 10 Barrel Brewing Company. It’s a great place to spot a beautiful Malamute! The large open area around the fire pit is a friendly spot for social pups ready to join in on the great conversation and atmosphere—free petting by new friends guaranteed! Dogs are welcome on the lawn outside Crux Fermentation Project and Bend Brewing Co. as well.

10 barrel with dog

McKay Cottage is one of our favorite places to brunch and lunch in town. Their beautiful, grassy outdoor patio is full of sunshine and gorgeous flowers in the spring and summer—a perfect place to park your pooch while you enjoy mimosas, gourmet omelets, and homemade scones and jam. Just remember to bring a leash.

Get Outdoors

Central Oregon is full of trails, rivers and lakes—an outdoor dog’s dream. Go for a hike, take a canoe trip on one of the Cascade Lakes, fetch a ball from the Deschutes River, the opportunities are endless! With access to so many beautiful areas, you’re guaranteed to have a tired-out pup by the end of the day.

If you’re here on the Fourth of July, you must attend the annual Pet Parade, Bend’s most historical and dare we say unique event. Children of all ages bring their special pet—dogs, cats, rabbits, lizards, and even stuffed animals—to parade through downtown. It’s a hoot and a very special way to recognize our animal friends.

Before your visit, get up-to-speed on the leash laws in the area. Do you like to run your pup off-leash? The Deschutes National Forest, 95 percent of the 1,200 miles of trails in the summer is off leash so you’ll find plenty of Central Oregon hikes for the whole family.


Courtesy Kurt Windisch