I first moved to Bend back in the summer of ’98. I was fresh out of high school, looking for a place that I could further my education and ski.
Since my dad lived in Oregon, I could get residency. I’d spent summers in Bend for most of my life, and it seemed like the best option for a good balance of skiing and school.
One day of spring skiing at Bachelor changed my life when I met Chris Collins in the lift line for Summit Chair. He had been filming with TGR. We connected as friends, and he soon recruited me to move to Utah. After two years of community college, I put school on hold and followed my intuition and the invitation. From there, my life was on the fast track in the ski industry. I spent the following five summers in Bend, and my love for the town grew. I never forgot that pivotal moment meeting Chris.
A Search for a New Home
After moving away for a number of years and meeting my now wife Annie, we were continuously on the hunt for our future home. We flirted with Jackson and Tahoe, and had dreamt of Canada, but one day we had a realization: what about Bend? For Annie and I, who were starting to plan a family, Bend had the perfect balance of what we both wanted for our future, needed for our joy, and hoped for in a community. I had a place to ski, bike and train, she had a place to continue her passion and work in design. We already had a community of friends and could find a more rural place to call home just outside of Bend where we could cultivate our future and our family.
We pulled the trigger and found a three-acre piece of land with a little house and a big garage. Moved in, found out that we had twins on the way, and started settling into our new abode. I quickly found Mt. Bachelor, with its fun and exciting vibe, and started to meet fellow snow enthusiasts who I connected with on and off the hill.
Our love for Bend, the community, and the surrounding environment has only grown, and the potential for growth and exploration in those areas seems limitless. We have just barely tapped into the welcoming scene of tribe, barely explored the vast recreation, and started to dial in the little slice of paradise we call home.
A Small City With an Entrepreneurship Problem
One of the biggest challenges for people moving to Bend is finding work. There are plenty of service industry jobs and opportunities in recreation jobs, but one place that people have really found a niche is in taking that big leap and starting their own business. While not an easy task, Bend has a community that notices and supports the small entrepreneur and can help a little idea turn into big deal.
From pet brands such as Ruff Wear and Dog Grog, to jewelers and designers Nashell and Maya Moon, to outdoors brands Hydro Flask, SnoPlanks, and Metolius climbing gear, as well as a plethora of restaurants, there is a vast range of companies that have chosen Bend to be their home.
The community of people living here–as well as visitors–are passionate about and eagerly support local business. They truly make them thrive. Bend is small enough for a new idea or company to stand out, but big enough to foster growth and visibility.
For Snowplanks, a local snowboard manufacturer, the journey started with a super niche product of wood boards without edges made for riding fresh powder. After people took notice, interest grew and Snowplanks was able to expand and explore more possibilities of different types and shapes of boards–all the while keeping a focus on locally built, unique designs.
The Hometown of Craft Beer
Over the years, Bend’s craft beer experience has boomed: 28 breweries have popped up in the Central Oregon area, with 22 of them residing in town. It all started way back in 1988 with Deschutes Brewery, an OG craft brewer that put Bend on the beer map.
One of the biggest names in the market today is 10 Barrel. 10 Barrel got started in 2006 by Garrett Wales and brothers Chris and Jeremy Cox, who owned a bar-restaurant downtown and decided to start brewing their own beer. Things took off, they renamed the side project 10 Barrel, and the project quickly gained notoriety in the beer game. Fast forward to today, 10 Barrel has a full team of brewmasters and skilled crafters at the helm who have the freedom to experiment and create the beer of their dreams and our future.
Bend’s huge number of restaurants go hand in hand with its beer industry. From casual counter service to fine dining, Bend has it all. Places like Spork and El Sancho offer delicious flavors with global influences and a casual atmosphere. Ariana, Bos Taurus, and Joolz offer a fine dining experience that one would expect to find in a much larger city. And–fear not–there is no shortage of pub-style options offering up a comforting and delicious slice of Americana. Each of these establishments features a unique selection of local and regional craft beers. Each restaurant has its own unique dining and drinking experience, offering new and exciting flavors to tempt your tastebuds no matter where you end up.
A Sport Climbing Icon
One of the recreational opportunities that I have yet to tap into that’s very much a part of the culture here is rock climbing. Smith Rock State Park, a world-class climbing location, is an iconic part of Central Oregon’s landscape. The astounding beauty and awesome climbing at Smith Rocks are also an important part of climbing’s history: in the ‘80s, Smith Rocks was the first place to be developed as a sport climbing location. Bolted routes were controversial at the time, but the establishment of a place that made quality climbing accessible to more and more people allowed sport climbing to take off.
Smith Rocks helped to provide proof that sport climbing could become a standard for modern climbing with quality experiences for climbers of all abilities. Sport climbing paved the way for climbers to develop and master skills at extremely high levels. Without a location like Smith Rocks and its passionate climbers to develop and refine the sport, modern climbing in the United States couldn’t have progressed nearly as quickly.
Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
Bend is so much more than the sum of its amazing parts. Beyond the hundreds of miles of biking trails, river community, craft breweries, climbing scene, and much more, Bend's residents have a quiet but fierce pride. This comes from a proud connection to the outdoor world and the corresponding work ethic to make that dream a reality. This dream and reality connect everyone who has chosen to settle in Bend, ensuring that it will remain a special place to call home for years to come.
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