Smith Rock is as striking visually as it is challenging to conquer—it all depends if you’ve come to climb and sweat or simply unwind and soak in the vista. Smith is arguably one of the birthplaces of sport climbing, where towers of volcanic ash—tuff and basalt—jut directly out of the High Desert floor. It offers hiking, climbing, and mountain biking options. And, of course, you can simply sit and watch others play. Crater Lake is the deepest body of water in North America, and has spellbound millions of visitors with its dark blue and calm water. The park is situated at a literally breathtaking 6,500 feet; hike around the near-perfect circular rim of the lake, or take the boat out to Wizard’s Island. No matter the weather, you owe it to yourself to take a dip—the experience is otherworldly. The Painted Hills is part visual wonder and part history lesson. Across the striped rolling landscape, you can see the Earth’s strata brought to the surface. They’re best visited in the late afternoon, as the sun saturates and magnifies the earth tones to psychedelic volumes. Most spend the afternoon gazing out over the land, soaking in the richness of the domain.
These three natural wonders are just in Bend’s backyard—no more than an hour’s drive from the city center lays a near endless list of outdoor excursions. Whether you’d like to sweat it out or sit it out, there’s something in store for you at these wondrous locations.