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Bend is located in central Oregon and is blessed with some of the most diverse environments nature can offer via rivers, volcanic hills and forests. Along with a wide array of outdoor adventures available, there are incredible restaurants, breweries, shops and parks to explore. Tourists are encouraged and even incentivized to keep the land clean, preserved and beautiful while they enjoy it at the same time. We’ve elaborated on some of our favorite eco-friendly adventures in Bend.
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Wanderlust Tours is well known for a diversity of naturalist-led excursions around Bend. Cascade Lakes Canoe Tours venture to surrounding mountain lakes enveloped by volcanic formations and stunningly preserved beauty. The spinoff Brews and Views canoe outing blends together two eco-tourism staples—non-polluting recreation vessels and locally crafted beverages. Swim, sip, gaze, and appreciate the unique meaning of these two wonderful and essential representations of sustainability in the area.
“Mt. Bachelor skiers enjoy a feeling of wilderness and solitude that just isn’t found anywhere else,”, says the official website. But why is skiing here different than Colorado or even Idaho? Because it’s about the wide-open terrain, and nature, not condos or tourist-packed villages. A serene mood can be found when grazing down the gentle slopes of this volcanic butte, that seems more in tune with the intact natural surrounding. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll still find lifts and other cool features, but skiing Mt. Bachelor is something eco enthusiasts will find to be more satisfying.
From July to September, while mountain biking and scenic hiking is also in full swing, Mt. Bachelor hosts get-togethers, or talks, that dive into the natural history and ecology of surrounding Bend areas. Not what you’d expect, a series of volcanic events are responsible for the unique terrain that has made this part of Oregon appealing to those in love with the outdoors. Even the water is hyper purified through the porous lava rock, resulting in pristine drinking water straight out of the sink. In-depth details are revealed within these sessions that last around 30 minutes each.
Bend has been and continues thinking outside of the box when it comes to lodging. Riverhouse on the Deschutes is a LEED-certified establishment constantly working to reduce its footprint, but the revival of old hotels and buildings into thoughtful, environmentally friendly establishments intrigues us. McMenamins took an old school building and turned it into a magical wonderland of secret doors, mystical rooms and hidden bars. LOGE reimagined an outdated motel into a trendy environment for outdoor enthusiasts or anyone who likes fun decor along with kombucha and paleo muffins in the morning.
Bend has an incredible booze scene, and its concentration of breweries gets most of the attention. But the wine community is complex and teeming with shops, wineries and locally crafted variations that will blow your mind. Events like the Winter Wine Walk celebrate the fermented beverage, and Drinkable Diversions guides visitors to some of the best varietals while highlighting kombucha and other beloved drinks. The Willamette Valley is just over two hours from town and offers a Napa Valley like experience. Indulging in sustainably made, local wines and beer is a welcoming way to experience eco-tourism.
Cog Wild is based out of Bend but offers a range of tours that traverse the rugged terrain of other nearby areas. Biking your way from scenic location to the next is far better for the environment than opting for a vehicle, plus you are seeing things from a closer perspective which is much more immersive. One particular adventure offered is a mountain biking ride from the hills of Mt. Bachelor, passing wildflowers and overlooks, all the way down to Bend.
Walking the Old Mill District will give travelers a glimpse into the well preserved historic attributes of Bend. Buildings that once operated as a mill have been upcycled into hip restaurants, coffee bars and wineries, and an intricate trail system for simple hikes or bike rides weaves through the attractive space. It’s an easy walk from the district to the heart of downtown, meaning that there’s not really a need for vehicles when spending the day exploring the city.
Floating the Deschutes is a favorite summer memory for locals. Not only is the river pristine, but it’s also the ideal hang out zone on toasty summer days. Local breweries likely see a spike in sales as “floaters” will stock up on favorite brews to sip while creeping down the stretch of water. Some rules do exist—no littering, wear a life jacket if you’re under 12 (while it’s not a bad idea if you are drinking beer), and only use approved floating devices. This basically means nothing weird like a blow-up mattress. We recommend taking the Ride the River shuttle, then launching at Riverbend Park.