I am woefully behind on blog posts and catching up with my blogger friends. Staying in National Parks often leaves one without cell and internet service but provides such grand vistas and fabulous hikes that I cannot complain. I will attempt to catch up as time permits.
Leaving Ashland we pointed our rig north and turned our attention to our next destination – Bend. We were anxious to see this Oregon city but first, a few sights along Hwy 62 were begging to be seen.
Mill Creek Scenic Waterfalls
An easy one mile hike will reward you with views across the river of two lovely waterfalls, Mill Creek Falls cascading 173’ into the Rogue River and multi-stepped Barr Creek Falls, with an impressive 242′ drop.
Built from the power of volcanic eruptions and the powerful force of water, the Rogue River drops some 75 feet and makes for a truly spectacular sight. These boulders were thrown all the way from Mt. Mazama when Crater Lake was formed, more than 20 miles away.
This is one of nature’s many wonders, where the wild Rogue River (aptly named) disappears into an ancient lava tube and reappears 200’ downstream. You can stand above the inlet and watch this mighty river vanish, taking 30 seconds to travel 200’ to the outlet, where it forcefully bursts through the lava tube.
Camping was not to be found near Bend when we arrived as this was the second weekend in June and the Sisters Rodeo was in full-swing. Thankfully LaPine State Park, 20 miles away, had sites available. The South Loop was the place to stay, most recently renovated, and the Fall River Falls 5-mile trail made for a nice hike on a cool morning.
Bend loves bikes and everyone who rides one so we traded in our hiking boots for two wheels and took to the streets. Downtown offers unique shopping, wonderful coffee shops, and lots of restaurants. Drake Park, one of over 70 verdant public parks, is a great place to stop for a picnic lunch when you have pedaled your way to an appetite. And if the retail bug strikes, a spin out to the Old Mills District along the Deschutes River will provide ample shops where your hard-earned money can be spent. Once home to two large lumber mills, it now houses lots of shops and restaurants, including REI. Bike the trail there or take to the river and rent a paddleboard or raft for an afternoon of fun.
Another area to bike is the Deschutes River Trail near Sunriver to beautiful Benham Falls, as you wind along open meadows, lava rock formations, and thick-scented forests of pine.
Have you worked up a thirst yet? Bend has been dubbed the microbrew capital of the West so you should have no problem finding a way to quench those flames. Bend has so many breweries that some clever marketing master created the Bend Ale Trail, where you can spend your days traveling from one brewery to the next, getting your ticket punched. We ran into three fellows who had already frequented 6 pubs and were not finished with their day. None of them appeared to be the designated driver…yikes!
Here are the three brew pubs we sampled in as many days ;):
1) 10 Barrel Brewing Company came recommended by our barista/tour guide at Bluebird Coffee Shop. Twin brothers segued into the craft beer world after a successful downtown Bend restaurant. They may have another success on their hands. We liked the Sinistor Black Ale.
2) Fairly new to Bend, 3-year old Crux Fermentation Project is what you get when you marry a brew master with a marketing guru. This small-batch brewery has an industrial feel and packs a punch with 15 taps. The winner for us was Nitro Stout.
3) And for a different twist on breweries, try Rat Hole Brew Pub, an unusual name for this inviting little pub. Les, co-owner with his sister, considers this a “nano-brewery”, very small compared to the others. The brewery itself is housed in his barn, “nothing more than a rat hole”, his sister declared, and the name stuck! Surprising to us, we liked the Lemon Wheat and Rotation Red.
Visiting Bend was not complete without a visit to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, where a 9-mile lava flow can be seen. Approximately 7,000 years ago Lava Butte erupted, creating this surreal landscape. Lava Butte is just one of over 400 cinder cones found at Newberry.
Newberry Volcano, a shield volcano, is one of the largest volcanos in the lower 40 states. It has created massive lava flows covering 1200 square miles in its 400,000-year history. In the 1960’s astronauts came to train on the Newberry lava for their mission to the moon.
There is so much more to see in this area than our time allowed, nothing that a return visit won’t cure. We learned that Bend has also been named “one of America’s most romantic cities”. Perhaps love will be in the air for our next visit. 😉
Next Up: Sisters, a town with an Old West flair