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Bend, Oregon Travel Guide
Last Updated: Jul-08-2012, Hits: 6,263, Rating: 4, Reviews: 1, Votes: 1 Bookmark and Share
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Bend, Oregon Travel Guide Restaurants (58)
Hotels and Lodging (32)
Bars and Nightlife (29)
Attractions (37)
Services (13)
Links (6)
Additional Articles (2)
Oregon Travel Forum (20)
Sisters, Oregon Travel Guide
Location: North America
Geography: Mountains, City, Forest, High Desert
Vacation Type: Family, Adventure
Popularity: Moderate Tourism
Costs: Budget, Moderate
Attractions: Skiing, Breweries, Hiking, Fishing, Camping, Boating, Scenery, Food Destination, Golfing, Rafting

Facts and Stats:
City Population: 76,639
Metropolitan Population: 170,705
Land Area: 32 square miles
Country Dialing Code: +1
Area Code: 541
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: U.S. Dollar
Time Zone: Pacific (PST) UTC-8/UTC-7 (Summer)
Current Time:

Note: This travel guide also covers Sunriver and Tumalo.

Located in Central Oregon at the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range, Bend is best known for its scenic setting and year-round outdoor recreational activities. Although located literally in the middle of nowhere, this old mill town has achieved a great deal of sophistication culture, and notoriety in the last decade.

Bend, county seat of Deschutes County, is located near the geographical center of Oregon at the foot of the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains at an elevation of 3,623 feet. Bend is bisected by the Deschutes River which marks on the transition between the ponderosa-covered east slope of the Cascades and the high desert.

The headwaters of the Deschutes River is at Little Lava Lake approximately 26 miles northwest of the city of LaPine. After flowing north for 252 miles, it empties into the Columbia River.

Bend is one of three cities in the continental U.S. to have an extinct volcano (Pilot Butte) within its city limits. The other 2 are Portland, Oregon and Jackson, Mississippi, Just south of Bend is Newberry National Volcanic Monument on U.S. Route 97.

Mount Bachelor is another nearby volcano that was formed between 11,000 and 15,000 years ago, and is the youngest prominent volcano in the Three Sisters area of Oregon. It last erupted between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago.

Bend and the surrounding area were a hunting and fishing spot for Native Americans for thousands of years. That all changed during the winter of 1824, when members of a fur trapping party were led to visit this region, guided by Peter Skene Ogden. This expedition took Ogden up the Crooked River past Prineville and east into John Day Valley. The next visitors arrived in 1834 and were members of the Nathaniel Wyeth party who came from their camp on the Columbia River looking for beaver.

Later, Dr. John Strong Newberry, John C. Fremont, and other military officers and explorers, arrived in the region and crossed the Deschutes River at Farewell Bend which was initially the name of the city before it was shortened to Bend.

In 1900, Alexander M. Drake arrived in the area, and shortly after, founded the Pilot Butte Development Company and built a lodge. Next, Drake's company built the first commercial sawmill in Bend. Steidl and Reed built Bend's 2nd mill in 1903.

A small community developed in the area, and in 1904, Bend was incorporated by vote of the community's 300 residents. On January 4, 1905, A. H. Goodwillie was appointed Bend's first mayor.

In 1915, Bend was home to the 2 largest pine plants in the world which caused rapid growth.

Bend became the county seat of Deschutes County in 1917.

The tourism industry began to be developed in the 1950's. This was greatly aided by the development of Mt Bachelor ski area in 1958.

Condominiums were built in 1968 in Sunriver in conjunction with the completion of Sunriver Lodge, and in 1969, the master plan was completed and developers began selling lots. Sunriver is located on the grounds of Camp Abbot, a World War II training facility designed to train combat engineers.

Today, Bend's primary industry is tourism and is also a popular destination for retirees. During the last decade, the city has been on of the fastest growing in the U.S.

People & Culture:
The culture of Bend largely revolves around the outdoors. It is a place where you can ski Bachelor in the morning and be on the river fishing the afternoon away. Excellent golfing, rafting, tubing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and many other activities are what draw the visitors here.

Bend is home to numerous artists and art galleries. Their art is often featured in one of Bend's several annual art festivals. The city is also home to the annual BendFilm festival that began in 2004 and highlights independent films. The arts are supported by city's Arts, Beautification and Culture Commission that was created in 2002.

Food & Nightlife:
While Bend has a diverse dining scene, there is definitely a focus on Pacific Northwest Cuisine just like other cities in this part of the country. An influx of talented chefs focused on creatively preparing local ingredients has elevated Bend's dining scene over the last decade.

Bend is also home to a burgeoning craft beer scene anchored by a number of brewers and brewpubs including the highly acclaimed Deschutes Brewing Company. Of course, there is more to the nightlife scene than just beer. Bend is home to a wide variety of bars from country bars to cosmopolitan cocktail bars. Many of these stay open until 2:30am.

Money & Costs:
Bend has a reputation for being expensive, however, in reality it isn't much different than other Northwest cities. It is certainly less expensive than cities on the east coast or in most of Europe. Skiing at Mt Bachelor, on the other hand, is fairly expensive.

There are plenty of budget lodging options for under $100 per night and a very good selection of options under $200. There is a 10.5% hotel tax in Oregon.

Tipping in restaurants and cabs follows the U.S. standard of 15-20%. There is no sales tax in Oregon.

Access to money is not a problem as there are a number of major banks and plenty of ATMs around.

Getting There & Around:
Flights to the area arrive at Roberts Field Airport (RDM) in Redmond, Oregon 20 minutes away from Bend. The airport is serviced by Allegiant Airlines, Delta Airlines, Horizon Air, and United Express. Direct flights are available from major markets such as Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, and San Francisco. Amtrak trains also service Bend.

The other option is to drive to Bend, however, you should keep in mind that it will be a bit of a haul as Bend is pretty isolated. The table below shows the distances to many of the closest cities.

Sunriver15 miles
Redmond16 miles
Sisters18 miles
LaPine30 miles
Eugene128 miles
Salem131 miles
Portland160 miles
Boise319 miles
Seattle343 miles
San Francisco496 miles

Once in Bend, bicycle rentals are a popular way to get around town, although the downtown can also be walked fairly easily. You will definitely want a car if you plan to explore the surrounding wilderness, volcanoes and other natural wonders.

Bend has a high desert climate featuring cold winters, warm summers, and chilly nights year-round. In the summer, temperature swings between night and day can be over 40 degrees. Despite cold winters with 27 inches of snowfall, Bend still boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine per year.

Below are the current conditions and weather forecast for Bend, Oregon.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 41 44 51 57 65 72 82 81 74 62 47 39
Avg Low 24 24 28 30 36 42 48 46 40 33 28 23
Precipitation 1.53" 1.12" 0.73" 0.78" 0.89" 0.70" 0.56" 0.48" 0.41" 0.60" 1.39" 2.20"

Tips & Additional Information:
  • Mt Bachelor is the 6th largest ski area in the United States.
  • No matter which season you visit, be sure to bring warm clothes as even summer nights are pretty cool.
  • Bend's population has nearly doubled during the last decade.

  • User Reviews (1)

    Reviewed by: sloshed
    Review date: Dec-02-2011

    Bend is a cool town. Haven't been there in a couple of years, but I am definitely due to go back. Bachelor is easily the best ski area in Oregon, the town has a good selection of brewers for its size, and the high desert scenery/Deschutes River are picturesque. We have rented very nice houses with a group of friends in Sun River at excellent prices. Its not the same as staying in Bend, but a good alternative. 

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