Bend is firmly established as an active community blessed with an incredibly diverse outdoor playground—mountains, rivers and forest trails are all at our doorstep. As if that wasn’t enough, Bend boasts a robust Parks and Recreation District managing more than 2,600 acres of parks, which has branched off in recent years to include a new surf wave at the Bend Whitewater Park and the rolling transitions of the 11,000 square-foot Rockridge Skatepark. These new surf and skate offerings pair nicely with the unique terrain of Mt. Bachelor to make for a very doable surf-skate-snowboard trifecta.
The Central Oregon hub has established itself as an ideal setting for three sports in one day, thanks to the proximity of Mt. Bachelor’s spring skiing and the region’s high-desert climate, which offers a moderate year-round temperature as well as an average of 160 sunny days per year. The lines between surfing, skating and snowboarding are fairly fluid among outdoors enthusiasts in Bend. The term “surf” is used equally to describe riding the waves at the Bend Whitewater Park, the terrain at Bachelor and the rolling lines of the new skatepark.
The region is already a magnet for surfers and skaters who are drawn to the transitions of Mt. Bachelor. Legendary big wave surfer Gerry Lopez is a longtime local, having moved here in the early 90s to slash the natural wind lips and endless frozen waves at Bachelor.
The winds at Mt. Bachelor are known for whipping the snow into features that mimic the look of waves, especially in the natural lava flow halfpipes off the summit. Lopez has even named the different features after waves he’s surfed around the world.
The annual Big Wave Challenge hosted by Lopez pays tribute to the “surfability” of this mountain, with local snowboarders and world-famous surfers laying fluid lines down the transitions.
With Mt. Bachelor a short 30-minute drive from downtown Bend, there’s no rush to knock out all three sports in one day. The Bend Whitewater Park, located near Bend’s Old Mill District under the Colorado Avenue Bridge, is a man-made diversion in the Deschutes River.
This stationary wave is engineered to allow surfers to drop in from either side and surf the face of the wave using traditional surfboards or river-wave specific surfboards from local shapers like Bend’s Cubicle Surfboards shaped by former pro-snowboarder Travis Yamada. Surfers session the wave year-round, although thick wet suits are mandatory in the winter, when riders are rewarded with smaller crowds lined up for a turn at the wave.
There are numerous skateparks in Bend, but the new Rockridge Skatepark, opened in 2017 and built by Portland’s Evergreen Skateparks, adheres to the renowned builders ethos of making fun, innovative skate parks that people of all abilities and experience can enjoy.
Tucked into the large Rockridge Park in Bend’s Northeast neighborhood, the skatepark features flowing bowls and smooth transitions, interspersed with lots of rolling features — you can’t get away from describing it as surfy. It’s an equally great park for recreation, rolling around in or skating like a pro.