Bend, Oregon at a Glance Guide
Some thirty years ago, Bend was a sleepy little mill town in the high desert of Central Oregon. So what’s fueled its remarkable transformation since then?
In a sentence, stunningly beautiful scenery and completely awesome outdoor recreation. From hiking, snowboarding, mountain biking, golf and even spelunking to world-class fly-fishing and rock-climbing, the Bend area literally has it all. Heck, there’s even a human-made whitewater kayaking and river-surfing course in the middle of town. Having more micro-breweries per capita than anywhere else in the country doesn’t hurt either.
Peer past this impressive surface though, and there’s even more going on to put Bend over the top. When describing Bend’s vibe, the word “laid-back” comes to mind, but this is not a city of people who just kick back and laze around.
Maybe it’s the mountain air, but Bend is more than anything else a community of people who are active, vibrant, and deeply appreciative of where they are. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: people in Bend work hard and they play hard.
Culturally, it borrows some of the best features of Portland, with music and culinary scenes rivaling those of much larger cities. In particular, the Old Mill District is home to amazing restaurants, and with extensive shopping and an old-time movie theater, it’s a hot spot for tourists and adventurers drawn to Bend from all over the world. The nearby Les Schwab Ampitheater features world-famous musical acts with superb acoustics and views of the Deschutes River.
One thing needs to be admitted: Bend’s public transportation is not up to snuff. But it more than makes up for it with supremely walkable and bikable neighborhoods. The Deschutes features over 12 miles of both paved and unpaved trail, and for those drawn to the water, there are long stretches of intertube-friendly river, perfect for a hot summer day. There’s a lot here for canine companions to enjoy too: In 2012, Bend was rated the country’s “Dog Friendliest City.”
Naturally, Bend has a ton of jobs in the outdoors industry, but the medical and tourism industries are also booming. With the recent opening of OSU Cascades, a satellite campus of Oregon State University, higher education is also a growing presence.
And if you’re a beer brewer—or a kombucha brewer for that matter—needless to say, your skills could be in high demand. Don’t just believe the hype though. Come get a sense for yourself of what the Bend vibe is all about.
Looking for just the basic facts? Here’s a rundown:
Bend, Oregon Population
Bend’s current population is estimated at 105,418 people, with an estimated 202,374 people living in the Bend metropolitan area. That represents a population growth of 38% since 2010 and – brace yourself – 439% since 1990. As of late 2019, Bend was the third fastest-growing city in the United States.
How far is Bend, Oregon from Portland, Oregon, Boise, Idaho, and other cities?
Bend is located in the high desert just to the east of Oregon’s Cascades mountain range, about a 3.5 hour drive southeast from Portland. Latitudinally, Bend is a little closer to the Washington border than to the California border. Boise, Idaho is a 5.5 hour drive to the east. The distance from Bend to Eugene, Oregon is only about 130 miles, less than a 2.5 hour drive.
Bend is the seat of Deschutes County, which includes the cities of Sisters to the west, Redmond to the north, La Pine to the south and the small unincorporated community of Brothers to the east along Highway 20.
Outdoor attractions in and around Bend are too many to mention, but we’ll name a few anyway: Mount Bachelor (skiing, snowboarding), the Deschutes River (kayaking, intertubing, fishing), Smith Rock (climbing), the Three Sisters and Mount Jefferson Wilderness (hiking, camping), Sparks Lake (paddleboarding, photography), Phil’s Trail (mountain biking)… We could go on.
Bend, Oregon elevation
While Bend is just a short distance from peaks that are 8,000-10,000 feet high, Bend itself sits at 3,623 feet. Redmond to the north is lower, at 3,077 feet, while La Pine to the south is higher, at 4,236 feet. That has an effect upon the average snowfall you’ll see in different parts of the Bend area, which brings us to…
Bend, Oregon climate and average weather
Being in the high desert, Bend’s climate is dry, with an average of just 11 inches of rain per year, most of it in the late fall and winter months. Bend’s average snowfall is close to 34 inches of snow per year, with snow depth exceeding two feet an average of only once every 20 years.
Bend averages 158 days of completely clear weather per year and 105 days that are mostly sunny. The average low temperature bottoms out at 23 degrees in January and February, with average highs of 42 degrees during the coldest months. The average high temperature for July and August is 82 degrees, cooling down significantly at night with temperatures dropping into the upper 40s.
Bend, Oregon median home price
In October of 2021, residential properties in Bend sold for a median of $645,000, up 16% year-over-year. Bend’s rapid growth has meant a rapidly-appreciating housing market. An unprecedented wave of buyers from summer 2020 through fall 2021 coupled with a shortage of new inventory led to home prices in Bend climbing higher than ever. High home prices are the number one factor making the cost of living in Bend one of the highest anywhere in Oregon.