Day Trips from Bend

Once a month we give you the opportunity to hear from some of our staff about what they do when they're not out on tour or booking activities in the office. This week, Bethany is sharing about two of her recent favorite getaways in Oregon. She has some pretty amazing pictures to accompany her advice. 

Here in the Wanderlust office, we often get people asking for recommendations on what to check out. We all have our favorite suggestions to make: Benham Falls, Tumalo Falls, Smith Rock, one of the Cascade lakes, Pilot Butte, one of the many breweries in town, shopping at the Old Mill, etc. The list of awesome, easily accessible spots goes on and on and on. And that’s definitely part of what makes Central Oregon so great!

Sometimes it seems like I send people to the same places over and over. I even find myself visiting places repeatedly. Recently, I’ve been trying to explore a little further outside of town. So for those willing to drive a little extra, here are a couple of day adventures you can take from Bend.

About 2 hours northeast of town lies the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

The John Day Fossil Beds are by no means an unheard of destination; to be sure, many people head out to visit them. I finally made it out myself not too long ago and it definitely made me realize I shouldn’t be shying away from pointing people this direction if they’re looking for something to do.

The Painted Hills are quite stunning. There are several short hikes in this area that take you around and through the various formations. This trip is friendly to explorers of all ability levels.

The colors in the hills are the result of various mineral deposits from the area's tumultuous volcanic past. The red comes partly from iron oxides while the yellow is caused by reduced iron. 

A little bit more off the beaten path is a place called Crack in the Ground. This neat slot canyon is also about 2 hours from town located near Christmas Valley. Be advised that the last 7 or so miles of road heading north from Christmas Valley got rough in a few stretches.

Crack in the Ground is about 2 miles long and is formed by rock deep underground spreading apart. This causes the weak basaltic rock at the surface to crack apart. Normally fractures like this fill in with soil and debris but the arid climate and general rocky nature of the area have kept this canyon intact.

There are stretches of it that are quite easy to explore and a few sections that require a bit of scrambling and maneuvering. My favorite part of exploring the canyon was that it provided an escape from the heat of the day. It was significantly cooler, especially in the deeper sections. 

These are just two ideas from tons of day trip options. Let us know if you have any favorite destinations!