Mt. Bachelor might get all the press – it is the Pacific Northwest’s largest ski area after all. But you’d be hard pressed to find a better summer destination than Central Oregon.
The Deschutes River has always been the lifeblood of Central Oregon and vital to any “must do” list. Taking a refreshing and relaxing inner tube float down the Deschutes from Bend’s Farewell Bend Park is required river therapy. The best part of the float—apart from its highly social nature—is the availability of a shuttle bus ride from Drake Park back to Farewell Bend Park to do it all over again.
If recreational kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddling is more to your liking, there are acres of open water with great views out over the mountain and forest landscape in the High Cascades Lakes of the Deschutes National Forest or on Paulina and East lakes in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
For those who fancy lakes with houseboating, water skiing and swimming, there’s Lake Billy Chinook near Madras.
There’s also fishing in all the region’s lakes such as Cultus and Davis lakes and reservoirs such as Crane Prairie and Wickiup, and, of course, the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius rivers. The Deschutes is famous for its native “redside” rainbow trout and its annual steelhead runs. The smaller Metolius River is known for being home to monster bull trout. Crane Prairie Reservoir, Davis Lake and East Lake are all noted for their trophy trout.
On dry land, there’s more than 300 miles of Central Oregon mountain bike trails. There’s a wide variety from mellow cruisers for beginners to technical downhill trails on Mt. Bachelor requiring expert skills.
The singletrack trail network is also well used by trail runners and hikers. Some of the best Central Oregon hiking is in the Three Sisters Wilderness, at Newberry National Volcanic Monument and at Smith Rock State Park—a world-famous rock climbing venue. Climbers now also flock to the basalt columns at Trout Creek Recreation Area close to Madras.
Back on pavement, Central Oregon has become a hub for road cycling with scenic bikeways fanning out in every direction. The region also hosts the Cascade Cycling Classic, the longest running road cycling stage-race in the country, now in its 36th year.
Each June, athletes, joined by their families and friends, converge on Central Oregon to take part in the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival. The Pacific Crest is known as the jewel of multisport events in the Northwest and a destination race for athletes from around the world. The Pacific Crest Weekend features a Health & Fitness Expo, great food, a beer garden, live entertainment and some of the best competitive racing in the country.
In the heart of Central Oregon’s inspirational running country, Sunriver Resort is proud to host the Sunriver Marathon for a Cause in August. Runners, skiers, bikers and paddlers compete in Bend’s festive Pole Pedal Paddle in May, starting at Mt. Bachelor and finishing in the Old Mill District.
With 30 – that’s right 30! golf courses in Central Oregon, the region has become a nationally recognized golf destination. In September, the Pacific Amateur Golf Classic (the largest amateur event in the West) moves from among a handful of the courses before the Championship Round at the award-winning Crosswater Club Course.
No matter what time of year and what recreation precedes it, the region’s brewpubs are always alive with activity. Brewing craft beer and the publican lifestyle have become a Central Oregon hallmark. Many of the region’s pubs have integrated their indoor space with expansive outdoor dining while offering excellent food, live music and, of course, tasty ales, lagers and stouts. Cheers!
To take it all in—brewpubs to golf, hiking, fishing or floating—can be daunting. Leave the logistics (and driving) to GETIT Shuttle and The Bend Trolley. Both of these transportation boutiques offer tours built around recreation and libations.