Bend, Oregon

It’s a story that’s common all across the western United States: 19th-century settlers build a town around logging or mining jobs, the economy collapses, and the town struggles for years, even decades, until it reinvents itself as a hub for outdoor sports. Towns like these — Park City, Utah; Boulder, Colorado; Jackson, Wyoming — form part of what’s now commonly called the New West. Think of it as the Wild West but with climbers instead of cowboys.

One town in Oregon has done a particularly fine job of embracing its New West nature thanks to the multiple outdoor sports it offers year-round. Bend, population 80,000 or so and about a six-hour drive south of Seattle, sits on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, where the frosty volcanic peaks bleed into the high desert. Here, you can ski off the top of a 2,764-meter-high volcano at Mount Bachelor or fly-fish for trout in the Deschutes River. Hundreds of kilometers of mountain-bike trails wend through the forests, and kayakers ply the cool waters of mountain lakes. Bend has become the beer capital of the country too, with more than a dozen local breweries. There is even a 12-seater bicycle you and your friends can ride between pubs.

Sorry, you’ll have to be at least 21 years old to play that sport.

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One Comment

  1. Barry says:

    Shhh… Don’t tell anyone about how amazing Bend is.


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