Bend has something for every kind of outdoorsy traveller

Skip Portland and head for the mountains, says Sunshine Flint

Thursday 12 March 2020 17:28
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Mount Bachelor, seen from the calm waters of Todd Lake in Bend
Mount Bachelor, seen from the calm waters of Todd Lake in Bend

The first great breath you scoop into your lungs as you descend from the plane in Bend, Oregon, is the moment you realise what those millions of tree-shaped air fresheners, bathroom cleansers and sprays have been trying to approximate; this is what “pine fresh” actually smells like.

Do we spend enough time talking about what places smell like when we travel? Say, the primeval damp filtered with wood smoke in the jungle north of Chiang Rai, the humid tang of south Florida, or the sunbaked dust of Rome? Well, central Oregon smells like heaven ­– if heaven were surrounded by forests of juniper, great Ponderosa pines, and blinding white snow caps topped with an endless blue sky.

A three-and-a-half-hour drive from Portland, Bend is in Oregon’s high desert, along the eastern flanks of the Cascade Range. It’s the sunniest spot in the state, with close to 300 sunny days a year, and the flip side to Portland’s grey skies – a reminder that the Pacific Northwest is a vast region, one that still hews to its western heritage, with space for everyone from beanie-wearing hipsters to fervid skiers to cattle ranchers.

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