First Week in Bend, OR

Bend, OR

We arrived in Bend to sunny skies and warm temperatures.  After getting set up in our beautiful site at Crown Villa RV Resort, we spent some time sitting outside enjoying a cold adult beverage.

But the next morning things changed dramatically, with cloudy skies and cold temperatures covering the area.  We needed a little exercise so we drove down to Riverbend Park for a walk along the beautiful Deschutes River.

It was a bit cool with a strong wind in our faces as we started out.  The walk was proceeding nicely when suddenly we became aware of little flakes of white coming down out of the trees.  OK, time to turn around and head back!

The storm passed and things quickly began to improve.

As we headed back to the north the sun appeared and things warmed a bit.  We crossed the river and passed a nice metal sculpture of two horses pulling a log. The scene was to honoring Bend’s history as a lumber mill center

East Side Pedestrian Tunnel under Columbia Street

Three tall smoke stacks are all that remain of two large lumber mills that straddled the river a hundred years ago.

West Side Pedestrian Tunnel under Columbia Street

The weather remained cold and windy for the next few days.  One morning we looked out the window to the scene below.  That night the ski resort on nearby Mt. Bachelor was expecting 8.5 inches of new snow!

We finally got some sunshine on Monday, although it was still cold and windy.  We took advantage of the clear skies to visit the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, located about ten miles south of Bend.  The ranger at the gate recommended we begin our visit with a ride up to the top of Lava Butte.  Lava Butte is a cinder cone volcano that rises 500 feet above the entrance and nearby visitor center.   It can be accessed by either vehicle or hiking up a paved road. Interpretive signs, views of the surrounding lava flow and mountains, and an active fire lookout are found on top.

Lava Butte

The fire lookout on the top

Mt. Bachelor in the distance

Returning to the visitor center we met a volunteer ranger who also lives full time in an RV.  Since he and his wife are also retired educators, we spend some time exchanging stories.  One of the places in the monument he told us about is the Lava Cast Forest.  To get to that section of the monument we drove about five miles south on US-97, then nine miles east on a dirt road that ended in a small parking area.

Not too crowded today

Lava Cast Forest contains a 6,000-year-old lava flow that created casts of ancient trees.

A one mile paved loop trail takes you through the lava cast area.

What’s up with this?

A typical lava cast

Flowing lava, like any liquid, takes the path of least resistance.  When it runs into high ground it will try to go around it, creating an island in the forest.  These islands are known by their Hawaiian name, Kipukas.

A kipuka across the lava flow

At one time some of the lava casts were quite high, but the elements of nature and human abuse have caused many to lose their high tops.

Returning to the Jeep we drove about a mile back down the dirt road to take a short, two mile round trip hike on the Hoffman Island Trail.

The trail was an easy hike on what appeared to be an old logging road.

Apparently the rangers haven’t been out to check this trail yet, as we encountered a number of newly fallen trees across our path.

Be dainty now!

We found one tall cast along this trail

Mt. Bachelor

Another view of Mt. Bachelor as we returned to the highway

The forecast is for a couple more cold, wet days ahead, but then things should improve.  Once that happens we’ll be able to get out a bit more and explore this beautiful area.

More on that later . . .

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40 Responses to First Week in Bend, OR

  1. Laurel says:

    Bend is so beautiful, but it’s definitely cold and snowy for a good portion of the year! Looks like you have a beautiful spot to call home for a month. Love the Riverwalk in town — very cool photo you took through the tunnel. Two places we really like for lunch are Spork and Kebab (we went there with Hans and Lisa). :-))

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Laurel, for the lunch spots! Looks like our weather is finally going to change and heading a little too warm. Oh, well, maybe it will melt the snow a little faster:)

  2. Larry says:

    We stayed in Sisters and really enjoyed that area of the country.

  3. Jim and Barb says:

    The weather there is crazy! Our son spent the winter in Bend and was amazed at how much snow they get. I doubt he will be doing that again!

    • placestheygo says:

      From the weather reports it sounds like the winters are very different from year to year with this year being unusually snowy. While it will keep us from hiking at higher elevations, it sure makes for beautiful mountains.

  4. Here’s hoping the weather warms up significantly for all of us! We could get lots of rain today and snow tonight! 😦

  5. Yet another place to highlight on for our summer trip

  6. Sue says:

    Love the dainty hiker……We missed the tree molds, very interesting! We also didn’t see the metal horse sculpture, it really captured their movement beautifully. Oh, those dirt roads call me…..

  7. Mary says:

    Those lava casts are so interesting, what a fun thing to see. Bend looks like a nice place to hang out for a bit.

    • placestheygo says:

      We had never heard of the lava casts before so we really enjoyed seeing so many of them. Interesting to think that a tree stood in that exact spot 6,000 years ago.

  8. Gay says:

    The lava casts are very interesting. So glad you will be in Bend a month to enjoy the weather and still have time for adventures.

  9. Spring sure is unpredictable this year! I wonder if you can get out to the Newberry Volcanic monument down by La Pine? I hope the road is clear…

    • placestheygo says:

      Lisa, the road all the way into the lakes area doesn’t open til late June from what the volunteer ranger said. The Pauline VC opens Memorial Day weekend but only for the weeks until late June. We will try to see if we can get to the Pauline Falls but that will probably be as far as can go. The whole area is under snow cover and it snowed again the other night. We have some very warm weather coming but I don’t believe it will melt areas fast enough. We’ll need to return to hike the south end of Newberry.

  10. Jeff says:

    We’ve driven thru Bend at least a dozen times, but have never stopped in Bend. The Kla-Ma-Ya is about 90 minutes south and FREE, just what we are looking for while travelling. You offer more great reasons to give Bend a chance – including Lava Casts, never heard of them!

  11. Sandra Silva says:

    Be sure and visit the Obsidian Mountain. It is fascinating. Also, if it gets warm enough take the kayak out on the river. We always enjoy that.

    We are currently staying in Blanding, UT. On our way to explore Monument Valley today. It is cold and rainy but the showers are very scattered.


    This is Bob descending in to a kiva. We have been doing lots of hiking and exploring. My knees are really doing well. Sent from my iPhone

    • placestheygo says:

      I don’t believe we’ll be doing any hiking in Obsidian Flow or the Obsidian Cliffs. Everything is under lots of snow. Higher elevation hiking will be out for this trip since they had so much snow this year and it was still snow as of a few days ago. But there are still lots of lower elevation hikes.

      Enjoy Blanding! We stay in Bluff but make lots of trips up near Blanding to get 95 for many of the canyons. We have lots of hiking ideas on our post with our four years in that area. So glad to hear your knees are well enough to hike! I couldn’t open your photo.

  12. TravelBug-Susan says:

    We LOVE the Bend area. Be sure to go to McKenzie Pass to see the Dee Wright Observatory and take the trail through the new lava. At Dee Wright Observatory you can look out the windows to see a lot of mountain peaks in the Cascade Range. Also, the lava caves south of Bend are worth exploring. If you love waterfalls, be sure to take the McKenzie/Santiam Pass Scenic Byway to see Koosah and SahalieFalls. Proxy Falls is also in that area. Go north of Redmond to Smith Rocks State Park for hiking along a river with towering rocks adjacent. Smith Rocks is a rock-climbing mecca. Sounds like you’re off to a great start. Enjoy!

    • placestheygo says:

      We do have all these places on our long list of hikes. Thanks for sharing, Susan! We won’t be going to the Dee Wright Observatory since that section of the McKensie Hwy doesn’t open til July. I guess we’ll just have to make a fall return visit!

  13. Sherry says:

    What a big site you have. Really nice. Love that pedestrian tunnel. The lava cast trees are really interesting. I’d never heard of them before. Thanks for introducing me. We had unexpected weather too………….95 degrees in mid May……….that NEVER happens. Not sure which I’d rather have, snow in May or boiling in May. Well actually I’d prefer neither. Looking forward to more about Bend.

    • placestheygo says:

      The lava casts were new for us, as well. We found them fascinating. I did see that your temps have gotten a little too high. Hope it isn’t sign of what is to come. We are heading for some much warmer weather starting tomorrow. Hopefully, some of the snow will melt.

  14. heyduke50 says:

    Here is to hoping much warmer weather comes your way soon…

  15. LuAnn says:

    We love Bend but not sure we would want to move to an area with snow and cold again.

    • placestheygo says:

      At one time I thought this might be a place to settle one day. But looking at all the snow, which doesn’t happen every year, especially where all the good hiking is, makes for a very short season.

  16. geogypsy2u says:

    Bend area has so much to see good thing you’re going to be there a month. Plus maybe the weather will get nicer. There are many tree casts on the south side of Mt St Helens, one log you can even crawl through.

    • placestheygo says:

      We have never seen the casts before. We saw a few tunnel type things and now I wonder if they aren’t from fallen trees that the lava went over. Glad you mentioned this.

  17. I’m going to Bend in August. I like reading about your adventures. Your blog post gave me some ideas for hiking in Bend. 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      Janet, there will be so many more hiking options in August. They had quite a snow fall this winter and many trails and several roads won’t be opening til July. But we should have several good ideas for you by the time we leave.

  18. pmbweaver says:

    Your site is amazing for sure. How cool that they painted the tunnel. It is beautiful. But brrrrrrrr…we went to Oregon the wrong time of the year also.

    Lava Cast Forest looks pretty cool. I wouldn’t want to have been there during the irruption though.
    What the nimble hiker not being dainty…you jest!

    I love the Three Sisters Mts. The header photo is awesome. We loved that area too! But didn’t spend near enough time there!!!

  19. It’s great to see Bend in a different season and it still as beautiful. We missed that Lava Cast Trail! A month in Bend may not be enough to explore all the trails in and around Bend. Just be reminded that a weekday hike at Smith Rock SP is best to avoid the crowd 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      A month won’t be long enough, MonaLiza, especially since half of the best trails will be under snow until long after we leave. So, we are coming back through on our way south from Washington for a ten day visit over Labor Day to do the higher elevation trails. Thanks for the reminder about Smith Rock SP!

  20. Jodee Gravel says:

    Love the colorful tunnels! We almost did Bend this route but originally I thought it would be getting hot there by now :-))) Such a beautiful area, glad you’ve got a month to see some of it (if you can get around the snow).

    • placestheygo says:

      People actually told us we were coming here too early. I guess it doesn’t that warm this early. We are coming back at the end of August/early Sept to hike the higher elevations. With so much snow this year, we’ll never get to the higher elevations and the scenic roads are opening a week or two later than usual. Too bad you didn’t join us!

  21. Debbie L says:

    Brrrr! We’ve noticed our summer has been a bit chilly, but no snow! There was a hail storm but it skirted around us!
    Looks so beautiful there! Great adventures you’re having! 😄

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