Bend was thankfully far enough from the fires to let us escape the haze, but the fires brought us into the area a couple of days earlier than we planned, so we had some time to check out the nature that Bend is so renowned for.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
The most famous area is the Newberry volcanic monument, so we drove in to check it out. We only saw the Eastern part, which is two nice lakes, an area of obsidian mounds, and a very tall peak that you can drive to the top of. There are two hot springs by the lakesides, but the rangers told us that they are mucky and kind of trashed, so we begrudgingly chose other things to do.
Our first stop was a hike to the falls near the entrance, where you can hike to the top and the bottom. It’s a cool little falls and well worth the hike, which is extremely short.
My favorite part, however, was the peak of the mountain. We drove because the hike is a steep, all-day affair, but the view is amazing and a great place for a picnic.
We spent most of the afternoon, so our easiest camping spot was a sno-park a couple miles away from the park entrance. It’s a perfectly good place for dispersed camping, but as Bend is known for outdoor activities, we were surprised by a bus load of bikes that pulled up as we were brushing our teeth.
They unloaded about half the bikes because what do you know, they were using the sno-park as launching spot for a off-road bike tour. Fin was just fascinated by all the bikes.
Salt Creek Falls
We had another couple of days before meeting our friends, so we doubled back a little bit to visit Salt Creek Falls, a gorgeous waterfall that is Oregon’s third tallest. The whole area is lush and serene, with great hiking and a tremendous falls.
Hot Air Balloons
We still had a night, so we stayed a night in a trailer park to shower before meeting our friends. That night, though, we discovered that the very next morning at the break of dawn a local elementary school as hosting the Sunday launch of a ballon festival.
Fin was asleep when we found out, so we set our alarms for early the next morning and packed what we could as quietly as possible. The next morning we finished, started the van, and of course woke the child up. His bed is directly over the engine, after all. So Shiz held him as I drove in the predawn darkness to watch the balloons go up.
It was completely worth it.
We arrived with plenty of time to make tea and scrap together some food for breakfast, then pull up our blanket and watch the balloons go up. Fin was awesome about the whole thing and while only three balloons were launched, the small size of the festival allowed us to watch everything ring-side and talk to people about hot air ballooning.
Afterwards, we needed coffee and donuts and it only seemed appropriate to do it like this: