Sooooo, as many of you know, come summer of 2022, Bend, Oregon is going to be our new home. I recently had the opportunity to spend 5 days there to ‘check on the house’ and do some exploring in and around town. Thought I’d share a few highlights – it was SPECTACULAR and exceeded every expectation.
First off, people always ask why we are leaving Colorado. The choice to move to Colorado nearly 20 years ago was, hands down, one of the best decisions of my life. My best answer is that we want to spend a decade or so exploring the Pacific Northwest (PNW) while we can still physically move at a decent pace….it gets a little scary as you move north of 55. What happens after that? Who the heck knows. We’ll figure that out as we go forward. Lots of things can happen. In the meantime, we are going to explore every nook and cranny that Oregon, Washington and Northern California (and probably a little of Montana and Idaho) have to offer.
Bend is a super cute town with all kinds of shops and restaurants. The surrounding area is pretty stunning also. One thing I will say is that the landscape is not nearly as dramatic as the gigantic mountains of Colorado. At least on the surface. Once you find a trail and start hiking, the things you see in Oregon, we just don’t see in Colorado. Bonus: Everything is seemingly within an hour of town.
I’ll start with Smith Rock State park outside of Redmond, Oregon – 30 minutes from Bend. Getting to Smith Rock is pretty unremarkable. You pass a bunch of fast food restaurants, strip malls and gas stations wondering what on earth could be so amazing about the destination. THEN you get to the parking lot and it becomes clear what makes this place so special.
The big rocks here are made up of layers and layers of volcanic basalt. It took about 30 million years to form what is now called Smith Rock State Park. Turns out it’s the birthplace of American sport climbing which means there are a ton of rock climbers scaling the walls. The Crooked River flows through the park adding some pretty cool dimension to the terrain – of course the water is perfectly clear. Looking forward to doing some trail running out here! There is a trail along the river and a couple that will take you higher to the top of rock formations. I stuck with the river trail which didn’t disappoint.
Tumalo Falls, 20 minutes from Bend is up next. Sometimes I’m a little leery when people rave about trails – kind of like what I am doing here! This was a HUGE surprise. You can either drive to the top for a beautiful viewpoint and do an 8 to 9 mile loop or, you can start at the bottom and hike to the base of a few waterfalls. I took option 1, only because I didn’t know what I was doing. OMG, it was unbelievable. The valley was lush, green and flowing with beautiful water. The forest was sooo green and dense, it was like something out of a kid’s story book. The drive up offers some fly-fishing opportunities that will be fun to explore.
Thank goodness for awesome new friends. One of my all-time favorite bloggers and now life-long friend, Jules over at Go Jules Go, introduced me to the Six Lakes Trail. It’s off the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, again about 40 minutes away. We got to the trailhead with Uncle Jesse (her pup) and headed into the dense woods of thee Three Sisters Wilderness. It had just snowed the day before so the ground was covered with an inch or so of ice and snow. It was STUNNING on the trail. We hiked in about 2.5 miles but could have gone further into the wilderness – looking at the map it looks like an incredible area to backpack. In true Oregon fashion, there was water along the way – in fact, 2 lakes – Blow and Doris. I can’t seem to capture how stunning these alpine lakes really are.
All in all, the trip was a huge success and as you can see, there are all kinds of things to see and do in and around the area – all types of terrain depending on what you feel like that day.
The best part of all of this is that you can spend the day in a really beautiful place and then have time to grab drinks or a bite with friends later in the day. Pretty spectacular.
…i choose this…