With an average of 300 sunny days per year, Central Oregon offers some of the West’s best outdoor attractions and the weather to enjoy them nearly year-round. Whether you prefer fly-fishing, rock climbing or skiing, this landlocked region of unspoiled terrain offers the perfect setting to reconnect with nature.
A three-hour drive from Portland, the city of Bend sits at Central Oregon’s western edge and makes a great base camp for ski bums, cyclists, golfers and climbers. By day, you can conquer the local elements and then drink up the city’s great food scene by night. By one count, Bend has more eateries per capita than San Francisco or New York, and the Bend Ale Trail lets craft beer fans tour more than a dozen local breweries. Shopping is another active pursuit, with a mix of local independent shops and high-end stores keeping fashion hunters on the move.
The north-flowing Deschutes River cuts right through Bend and past more rugged expanses of Central Oregon before emptying into the Columbia River. A variety of outfitters lead whitewater rafting trips ranging from a few hours to multiple days, and
A renowned fly-fishing destination, the Deschutes draws visitors from all over the world, looking to cast a line. From rainbow trout to steelhead, there are plenty of trophies to be had here during the long May-to-November fishing season. A local guide can help you reach the best spots as the river has carves its way into deep canyons.
Visitors to Smith Rock State Park can get the best views of Central Oregon by scaling any of the more than 1,800 climbing routes to the top of the 3,000-foot-high desert plateau. A year-round campground and a network of hiking trails make the park a four-season attraction. But with scorching heat in summer and freezing temperatures in winter, spring and fall are the most popular times to belay on.
Meanwhile, Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort heats up when the cold sets in. Located just 22 miles west of Bend (or a 3.5 hour drive from Portland), this 3,700-acre resort has 88 runs, topping out with four uninterrupted miles of downhill trails. Ten lifts take skiers and borders all over the 9000-foot mountain, which kicks off its season around Thanksgiving and, weather permitting, sometimes even stretches into the summer.
Regardless of the season, in Central Oregon, it’s always smart to wear sunblock.