We’ve got news for you, Portland: Bend is not Eastern Oregon.
Far too many city dwellers seem to believe the state ends in the High Desert community and Idaho lays claim to whatever exists beyond that—or, worse, some assume there’s nothing worth seeing in this sparsely populated wide swath of land. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
You owe it to yourself to fuel up the car and lose cell service for a few days by exploring this region. It’s where you can immerse yourself in nature and never encounter another soul—at times it feels as if it’s just you and the open-range cows. Somewhat paradoxically, it’s also a place where you’ll never drink alone if you don’t want to. The small-town bars and breweries always have stools occupied by locals eager to chat up a fresh face. They know right away you’re not from around there but are delighted you came to visit, and won’t hesitate to share all the secret gems, from hiking trails to hot springs, even directing you to the best cuts of grass-fed, marbled steak.
Eastern Oregon also has the remarkable ability to make you marvel at the mundane. Perhaps it’s the spotty internet coverage, but you’re forced to pay attention to the environment in ways you don’t elsewhere. Out here, the sun shines a little brighter, the air smells a little fresher, and the vending machines are all stocked with live bait. It’s a different environment—hills glow in shades of red and gold, and sparkling lakes are stuffed with bass the size of small dogs. And it’s a different way of life.
Go ahead, take the road beyond Bend and check it out.