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What’s the best hiking trail near Madras?

I suggest the 7-mile Tam-a-láu Trail loop hike near Lake Billy Chinook. It features a mile-long climb to the top of a lava plateau called the Peninsula, which separates the Deschutes River and Crooked River arms of Lake Billy Chinook. Hikers are treated to bird’s-eye views of the reservoir and the dramatic cliffs and plateaus that line the water. The hike starts at the Cove Palisades State Park Upper Deschutes Trailhead. Enjoy!

 

Where should our family go for a Christmas getaway near Bend?

Hello! It’s hard to say about the weather for sure, but there’s a good chance it’ll be cold in Central Oregon. Still, there are plenty of great places to visit. The High Desert Museum is great for families. The resorts Black Butte Ranch and Sunriver are also good choices. You can still walk the river trail in town and get outdoors. Smith Rock is a lovely place to see/hike. Plenty of great dining and culture too — holiday fairs at the Museum and Fairgrounds, and music and theatre around town. Seventh Mountain Resort is another choice — there is an ice rink there. Have a wonderful getaway.

Where should we go stargazing near Bend?

Hi Jason, welcome to Bend! There are two actual observatories, one in Sunriver and one at Pine Mountain east of town. Aside from that, I’d suggest getting away from the lights of town. Smith Rock would be a good choice, or head up Cascade Lakes Highway to Mt. Bachelor or one of the Cascade Lakes. Brasada Ranch is also an excellent place to see the sunset or stars. Good luck and have fun!

What should we do in Bend if we only have one day?

There is much to be discovered in Bend. If you only have a day, here are my suggestions. Walk a bit of the Deschutes River Trail, in town. Visit a few of our famous breweries – I suggest Crux, Bend Brewing Co. and Worthy. Walk through Drake Park (the leaves should be changing, and beautiful, then). Drive to the top of Pilot Butte to see the amazing view. Visit downtown and eat at Zydeco or McMenamins Old St. Francis School.

Also, from Bend you can have an incredible daycation.

What are the must-do trails south of Bend?

Definitely check out the Green Lakes Trail on Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. It’s popular, but for a good reason — it’s a very scenic and a great trail. The more ambitious climb would be South Sister, an accessible but challenging hike. In Newberry, don’t miss the Obsidian Trail. There’s also a short hike to the Paulina Creek Waterfall. Have a great time!

What are the best places for water sports near Bend?

You’re in luck. There are great rafting and water sports options around here. The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway offers many lakes for flatwater kayaking and boating. The Deschutes River offers kayaking and slow-rafting right in town, or sign up for a white water raft trip with Sun Country Tours, on the river southwest of town. Also in town, try out the new Bend Whitewater Park, with standing waves and awesome floating, surfing and kayaking options.

No doubt, you’ll work up an appetite. Some of my favorite places to eat nearby are Jackson’s Corner, Spork, Hola!, Brother Jon’s, the Lot, Zydeco and Bend Brewing Co.

What are the best lakes to wakeboard near Bend in June?

I’d say the most popular place for wakeboarding in Central Oregon is Lake Billy Chinook. It’s strikingly beautiful and large. Three rivers come together and are dammed into a fantastic waterway for boating.

Another popular spot is Cultus Lake. Both Billy Chinook and Cultus are about the same accessibility from Bend, but they are vastly different in terms of surroundings. Cultus is surrounded by forested mountains while Billy is in a high desert rimrock canyon. Given the time of your visit, I’d choose Billy Chinook. Cultus can be colder as it’s at a higher elevation.

Plus, Billy is simply bigger and, in my opinion, more fun to traverse than Cultus. Have fun!

What restaurants should I try in Central Oregon? Mind you, I’m a chef!

I can recommend many great restaurants. Don’t miss 5 Fusion — award-winning chef Joe Kim is amazing. Ariana and Zydeco are other excellent fine dining choices. For more casual food, try Jackson’s Corner and Nancy P’s Bakery. Also, Hola! has great Peruvian food. Definitely hit a few brew pubs — my favorites for both food and beer are Bend Brewing Co., 10 Barrel and Three Creeks Brewing. Do you need lodging recommendations too? I like the Oxford Hotel, Tetherow and Hampton Inn and Suites.

Do you have any suggestions for day trips on a motorcycle?

I can think of several scenic tours you might enjoy. The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway is a great choice — lakes, mountains and lots of beautiful forest. Take Highway 26 east through Prineville to the Ochocos — another great backroad through forests. Old McKenzie Highway, Highway 242, is amazing, as is the Aufderheide, Scenic Highway 19. A trip to Crater Lake would be well worth the time, too. Have a great trip!

What should we do and see in Central Oregon in September?

Hi! You’re in for a treat. Central Oregon in September is so beautiful.

I have several recommendations for you. Don’t miss the High Desert Museum, which presents natural and cultural history and also has live animals on site. For hiking, try Smith Rock State Park, the Deschutes River Trail, or the Cascade Lakes region. Tumalo Falls is near Bend and easy to access. The Newberry National Monument offers cool volcanic history and views as well as a waterfall, Paulina Falls.

Take a stroll through Sisters - a fun little town with Western flair. Many events take place in Sisters in September, too. There is a ton of great dining in the area – try the Old Mill District or downtown in Bend for starters.

What else do you want to know? Have a great time!

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