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Bend, Oregon

By Kari Ann McGinnis

If paradise is a place of great happiness, then Central Oregon is it. Once coined “the middle of nowhere,” Bend, Oregon feels more like the center of everywhere. An endless array of outdoor activities awaits the adventurous, and the majesty of the rugged mountain landscape promises to inspire all outdoor enthusiasts. Something about this region stirs people. Being here means feeling overwhelmed with a desire to see it, to experience it, to live it. The possibilities are vast and limitless in this four-season destination. Central Oregon offers the best of it all.

Blanketed in dry, fluffy snow, it’s reminiscent of a winter wonderland laced with cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. Mount Bachelor boasts some of the best downhill skiing in the country, and the resort sits just 20 minutes east of Bend. Skiers can carve turns through the dry Bachelor powder until their legs burn and still have time to make 9-holes at one of the many golf resorts in the area.

Some thrill seekers venture into the wild lands on snowmobiles, while others gather rope and ice axes, pitting themselves against Mother Nature as they climb the frozen water of 60-foot Paulina Falls. When the snow melts, a different kind of Central Oregon adventure begins. The sun sends the snow to the rivers, and the serene winter water churns and spits as it fights its way down lava canyons. Frigid water cannot keep rafters and kayakers out of the Deschutes River. With rapids bearing names such as “Big Eddy,” just watching the water-rodeo from shore is enough to jolt anyone’s heart.
Where it flows through quiet meadows, the Deschutes shows its other mood – inviting flyfishers to wade in and join it. Nothing beats the thrill of a good fight with a steelhead, except maybe the satisfaction of eating it for dinner later that night.

Soon spring turns to summer. Trails dry out and lead mountain bikers and hikers among groves of Ponderosa Pine trees and over lava flows to summit viewpoints and quiet mountain lakes. Smith Rock State Park beckons rock climbers from around the country. Even if you’ve never worn a harness, there are people in Bend who will take you north to the famous rock outcropping and show you how to conquer the beginners’ wall.

At the end of the day, when darkness encompasses the natural world, you won’t be ready for it to end. So wander into downtown Bend, where the small town offers you a little piece of Oregon that no trip would be complete without. Belly up to the bar in the one of the two local breweries and take a nice long pull on a classic microbrew. Now you can call it a day and you will have a smile on your face that clearly comes from being in paradise.


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