We spent quite a bit of time planning our route for the next six days since we have to be in Missoula, MT on the 23rd. Weighing all the options/routes, etc. The park host had dropped off a book of all the state rec areas and parks so we scoped out which ones we might want to stay. Since we are in Oregon I wanted to check out Bend.Bend was a good 200 mile day with a couple of things to see along the way. Not only that but US 26 is a designated ‘Oregon Scenic Byway’ so it should be fun to ride as well. The plan was to stay at another state park – Tumalo.
The US 26 takes you through valleys and farming land as well as the Malheur and Ochoco National Forests which offer pines forests and wide open meadows. No chance to get bored during the ride. Not just because of the varying scenery but also because the road always has to wind itself up and down the various summits in the forests. Fun riding :-).
We stopped at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument along the way but no hiking for us – just a lunch break. It was only noon but it was hot already. I cannot say it often enough but the Camelbak hydration system is a life saver. With a 100oz. (3 ltr) capacity it lasts all day and allows us to drink constantly, even while riding, vs. only when stopped for a break.
After more riding we get to the ‘Painted Hills Unit’ of the John Day monument. The last bit of road to the visitor center is not only gravel but also dirt since there was bridge construction going on. Enough riding challenges for the day so no going to the overlook.
We keep pushing on to Prineville for a lunch stop. Time to call the campground as well to check on availability – just get a recording: ‘first come, first served’. Oh well. We’ll take a chance. By this point we are both getting tired but luckily only have about 30 miles to go.
A ‘No Vacancy’ sign greets us at the state park campground :-(. Into Bend proper we ride and pull over at a random parking lot to regroup. With map in hand we walk into a pool/spa store and ask them for a hotel recommendation close to … you guessed it .. breweries! After a long day riding in hot weather the beer just tastes better :-). They name a hotel, we ride there, check in and before long are on our way to drink some beer and have dinner.
We walked by the Deschutes Brewery but it was packed so we headed to the Silver Moon tap room which is a bit off the beaten path. We were rewarded not only with a nearly empty bar but even better beer – Snakebite Porter. We walk around the downtown area for a bit looking for places to eat, settling on a pizza joint. Bend feels a little bit like Berkeley, CA – somewhat on the funky side. At least the downtown area does.
Here’s the route.