Traveling in Bend
While many businesses choose their locations based on proximity to shipping hubs, Atomic-Moto (wisely) chose Bend for its RIDING. But, it is also a beautiful and fun town, and you should visit here.
Bend is located in Central Oregon, with the Cascade mountains to the west and a high desert to the east. There is an extraordinary variety of terrain, temperature, precipitation, and weather. It is a terrific location for adventure and off road motorcycle riding, and requires one to really think hard about their gear setup.
Elevation is approximately 3650', much of the surrounding area goes up from there. The climate in Central Oregon is NOT what most people think of (rainy). We are on the east side of the Cascades, with a dry high desert climate. Little rain in summer, a good amount of snow in the winter. This is a key factor for those traveling through on dirt.....one must consider altitude and where the snowmelt lines are in spring, particularly over 4500 feet. Occasionally the higher alts do not fully melt off until July.
Fire danger in summer is a very, very serious thing here. There have been several major fires over the last few decades. Don't screw around. Be careful.
While it is a good sized town, once you get outside of it things get fairly rural. Basically, this is a good sized town, surrounded by desert and mountains. Oregon, east of the Cascades, has among the lowest population densities in the US. Because of this, there are many routes into the area mostly on dirt.
Population is approximately 85,000 people, by far the largest town east of the mountains. There are a good amount of the usual amenities for medical, repair, food, services, also stuff moto people need: hardware stores (nuts and bolts), Home Depot / Lowes, tools, pressure washing, welding, electrical supply houses, etc.
The town and surrounding area are very easy for motorcycle touring and travel in general. There are a wide variety of lodging prices, and plenty of places to camp near town.
WHERE TO RIDE:
Oregon Backcountry Discovery Route - Routes 3 and 4 of the OBDR run through Bend, and several other routes are close by. There are a ton of connector roads in and around the routes, and Bend sits in the middle of them.
Trans America Trail- The TAT, which ends at its western border in Oregon, runs south of here. Our apologies, we do not have much info on this route.
Surrounding Bend - There are quite a few routes in the areas surrounding town, but mostly to the east. To the east is high desert with very low population density and plenty of routes. Great for multi-day, camp off the bike routes. Navigating around various ranches can get tricky. Make sure you have plenty of fuel. Dusty in summer, watch for snow levels in spring. To the west is the Cascades and the Deschutes National forest, great for day rides and short multi day routes. Lots of high altitude lakes for water acquisition. Elevation is higher, watch for snow levels in spring, and you may deal with tree blowdown. Note this area goes under a annual seasonal road closure to accommodate Elk migration from December 1 - April 1.
WHERE TO STAY:
Picking a place to stay sight unseen is as sketchy as a bald front tire. Recommending a place to stay to others is even more risky, but we ain't skeered. Bend has mostly good options, but these stand out because they are all clean, cheap, nice, in a good location, or some combination of those. All have good moto parking.
Bend Riverside Inn and Suites - Funky-cool, a little worn but in a good way. Very good location; near to town, next to a park, and on the river. Great motorcycle parking. Ask about the "condos", small studios with kitchenettes on the river.
Comfort Inn - On Eastern edge of town. Far enough away from everything that you don't feel crowded, but walking distance to a grocery store, gas station, a few restaurants, etc.
Red Lion Inn - Lots of rooms, reasonable, good staff, good moto parking. Old school Bend at its best.
Hampton Inn - Brand new, near Old Mill area. Typical chain hotel but in a good location.
You cannot swing a dead stator in this town without hitting a place that has great beer. Bend truly does an amazing job at making delicious and unique brews. Here's a few names in no particular order: Deschutes, Boneyard (our fave, and the owners ride...), Good Life, Crux, 10 Barrel, Worthy, BBC, there are about 10 more (seriously). Just promise us that you will stay off the bike if you check them out.
WHERE TO EAT:
First, Bend is a food and drink town. Not awesome food, but good, and most places are fun. Generally you cannot go wrong at any of the brewpubs, or walking the downtown. But here are a few suggestions:
La Magie - Downtown, cool atmosphere.
Black Bear Diner - Quick, cheap, easy, big portions, central location.
Original Pancake House - harder to get to on Westside but really good and no lines.
Mothers Juice Cafe - Healthy, fresh juices and smoothies (not the sugary kind, real veggies and fruits) and fresh sandwiches.
Rockin Daves Bagel Bistro - Bagels, sammiches, and full breakfasts.
10 Barrel Brewing - Most popular place in Bend. Located on the West Side, Great food, great beer, plenty of "scenery". Often crowded. There is a strip of other places along this street to go to.
Summit Saloon - Most underrated place in Bend. Great burgers, and most everything else. Downtown location, rarely crowded, one of the coolest buildings in Bend.
Deschutes Brewing - The original brewery and pub in Bend, and arguably the best beer. Usually crowded.
Pacific Pizza and Brew - On Westside. Great pizza, gourmet style, great salads, etc. Owner is a friend and fellow moto dude.
Old Town Pizza - Back East style hand tossed pizza, the kind that weigh 5 lbs. Plenty of seating, locals kind of place. Kinda slow but worth it.
Pizza Mondo - Downtown, fast, cheap, slices.
El Sancho Tacos - Hipster Central but great tacos.
Los Jalapenos - Total dive, very few tables, good burritos.
La Rosa - Upscale Mexican, but still somewhat reasonable. Fantastic food, even better margaritas. Terrific location on western edge of town. Often crowded.
Parilla Grill - Westside location is a mildly sketchy but good dive. Also a newer more sanitized mid-town location near Pilot Butte. Cheap wraps, Tacos, etc. Fish Tacos and a tall PBR for less than $10.
Cibellis Pizza - Three locations in town, cheap slices.
Jersey Mikes - Two locations, fast, cheap, easy parking at both.
Tacos Pihuamo - Stupid good Mexican food for cheap. Picnic tables in a parking lot next to a busy street, and completely worth it.
Upscale - Our upscale dining doesn't stand up to most cities, but it's still good.
900 Wall - Smack in the middle of downtown, great building, great cocktails, strong depth to the menu.
Zydeco - Also right downtown, Gets crowded but has a good scene.
Greg's Grill - Old Mill District. Good food, easy to get to, nice views of the river. Has great outside area to chill in warmer months.
Jackalope Grill - Downtown, more quiet, great wine list.
McMenamins - OK food, overpriced, great atmosphere in a renovated catholic school. Multiple rooms, fire pits, courtyards. Check out the O'Kane room, an adjacent separate cigar and whiskey bar.
The Lot - Collection of food trucks, with covered heated pavillion, and beer sales. Some of the best food in Bend.
Worthy Brewing - On the eastern edge of town, with a huge, open patio. Great place to kick back after a long dusty day, boots and all.
Bend Brewing Company - Really cool place downtown, on the river with amazing beer and a great outside courtyard. Kitchen is tiny so when it is busy food service is slow.
Best Place to Go if you want an entire restaurant to yourself (or you are anti-social):
Hilton Garden Inn Restaurant - A restaurant in the Hilton Hotel, with a skilled chef and absolutely no patrons. On 4th of July weekend when the entire town has a wait list, this place will be completely empty.
Anthonys at the Old Mill - Absolutely criminal that a place can take good seafood and turn it into something so flawlessly mediocre. If KMart had a restaurant this is what it would be like, except these folks grossly overcharge you for it.
Cascade Lakes Brewing - Consistently, stunningly awful food. Locals talk in low voiced disbelief about how shitty this place is. Even the beer sucks.
Hong Kong Chinese - Oregon has an assisted suicide law. This would be one way to do it.