From Lakes to Rivers in Bend Oregon

June, 2014 – We had dashed across Nevada and Oregon, zipped through Crater Lake, and come to central Oregon because we had mountain biking on our minds. Bend, Oregon, is reputed to be one of the biggest mountain biking meccas around, and we were eager to get out on the trails and give it a try. First we got our feet wet…well, we whetted our appetites, I should say, at Diamond Lake.

Diamond Lake Mountain biking

On the jetty at Diamond Lake

Dechutes River Mountain BIke Trail Bend Oregon

The Deschutes River Trail is easy and super scenic.

There is a fun 13 mile loop around the lake, and although it is paved, it goes through some wonderful woodsy sections where tall pines towered above us on all sides.

There was also a fun jetty that was perfect for a biking photo op.

But once we got to Bend, we quickly understood why the area is so famous for its mountain biking trails.

There are oodles of trails of all varieties, and every car driving around town had bikes on the roof or hanging on a rack off the back.



Dechutes River Mountain BIke Trail Bend Oregon

Mountain biking the Deschutes River Trail

The Deschutes River Mountain Bike Trail follows the contours of the beautiful Deschutes River south of town.

We followed it from waterfall to waterfall for quite a few miles and met both hikers and bikers along the way.

There are other more challenging trails outside of town that climb up and down hillsides and jump over rocks in the woods, but the River Trail was an easy and scenic place to start.

The paved Urban River Trail follows the riverbanks right in downtown Bend, and we enjoyed that ride one weekend afternoon.

Paddle boards and kayaks Dechutes River Bend Oregon

Lots of people paddle the Deschutes River in downtown Bend

The sun was warm and the air was clear and crisp, and everyone and his brother was out enjoying the river.

Stand-up paddleboards were the most popular way to get out on the river and get a workout and a tan, and we saw tons of them going upstream and downstream.

Most paddleboarders were flying solo, but one little family caught my eye.

Dad was paddling and the two kids were sitting cross-legged on the paddleboard enjoying the ride.


Family on standup paddleboard Deschutes River Bend Oregon

What fun!


But some people were more concerned with their tan than with their workout.

Floating on a Coleman air mattress

I never thought of using an air mattress this way!

Funny bikes on Deschutes River Bend Oregon

Folks zip up and down the riverbanks in all kinds of contraptions.

We both got a laugh when we saw a few folks asleep at the wheel, floating downriver or anchored to shore on an air mattress!

Around us on the paved path we saw walkers, bike riders and skate boarders.

And one family went by on some funny cart bikes!

The Deschutes River runs through the heart of Bend, but it is not the only river in the area.

The Crooked River zig-zags along nearby, and Smith Rock State Park is a lovely park filled with soaring cliffs lining this river.

There are several hiking trails through this park, and most are enjoyed by locals.

Smith Rock State Park Bend Oregon

Smith Rock State Park has a pretty riverside hiking trail.


Butterfly on a wildflower

Mark spotted a butterfly on a flower.



We saw wildflowers sprinkled here and there.

More surprising was that we had several wildlife sightings.

First, Mark spotted a beautiful butterfly resting on a big pink flower.

Meanwhile I was busy lining up a shot of the river and noticed something walk into my view finder.

I looked up and it was a deer!


A deer in the Crooked River Smith Rock State Park Oregon

A deer walked right into my photo while I was setting it up.

After getting a few snaps of this pretty, lanky animal, I noticed a duck swimming across the river surrounded by her little ducklings.

Smith Rock State Park is not too far outside the Redmond city limits just north of the city of Bend, and I was really surprised to see so much wildlife.

Duck and ducklings Smith Rock State Park Oregon

A mama duck and her ducklings swam by.

Rock climbing dude Smith Rock State Park

This dude rounded out the wildlife sightings!

Mark left his butterfly and looked up to find himself face to face with wildlife of another sort: a rock climber with a pink mohawk!

From sparkling Diamond Lake to intensely royal blue Crater Lake to the Deschutes River in Bend to the Crooked River at Smith Rock, we discovered that this high desert land in Oregon, which sits on the dry eastern side of the Cascade mountains, comes alive along the waterways.

Before we got to Bend I was scanning the Visit Bend website for ideas of what to see and do, and I found the most intriguing description of their outdoor art tours:

Smith Rock State Park Oregon

The Crooked River lies at the heart of Smith Rock State Park

“Art looks different in Bend, Oregon. It has skinned knees and a gleeful, good-time grin.”

After spending a little time here, it seemed to me that, in Bend, art imitates life!


Curious about Bend, Oregon?  Click the following links for more information about:



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