Dog-Friendly Destinations: Bend, Oregon

I have heard so many great things about Bend, Oregon over the years, so I had to include it on my career break itinerary. I knew that Bend would make a great dog-friendly destination. Bailey and I enjoyed 3 nights in Bend before moving on to Southern Oregon. Thankfully, we arrived just after the majority of smoke from the wildfires, although the smoke did blow back in the day before we left. Bend is known as a destination for outdoor adventure, and although I was surprised at how large the town is, I really enjoyed Bend.

Here are the dog-friendly spots we found in Bend, Oregon.

Eat in Bend

There is no shortage of dog-friendly food stops in Bend! We enjoyed several al fresco meals, where Bailey was treated like a valued guest.

Currents at the Riverhouse

Currents at the Riverhouse

I enjoyed a birthday dinner on the patio at Currents at the Riverhouse. Everything, including the service, the setting and the food, was top notch! I started with a pomegranate coconut cider and the Rogue Smokey Bleu Cheesecake. It sounded weird, but I took the server’s recommendation and it was delicious! I would come back and just order this again!

Currents Restaurant at the RiverhouseRogue Smokey Blue Cheese Cake - roasted garlic, pear chutney, baby arugula, crostini

I chose a steak for dinner, and savored every bite along with this amazing view of the Deschutes River. Bailey lucked out and got leftover steak from the couple sitting next to us! We both had filet for my birthday!

Birthday Dinner at Currents at the Riverhouse

McKay Cottage

The McKay Cottage is located very close to the campground we were staying at, so I stopped in for a yummy breakfast on the patio. The outdoor area is really large, but it was full when I visited, including several dogs and families enjoying the fall weather in Bend. Bailey was happy to receive a bowl of water and a dog treat!

Broken Top Bottle Shop

The Broken Top Bottle Shop is a “brew hub” and mostly serves bottled beer, although they do offer a food menu with counter service and outdoor seating. I had a tasty iceberg wedge salad. No beer for me!

Play in Bend

The Bend area offers tons of outdoor adventure activities.

Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park is located just outside of Bend and is an icon of outdoor adventure in the Bend area. The park is popular with rock climbers and slack liners, as well as hikers. We hiked part of the Misery Ridge Trail, although turned around when it got too hot. There was no water on the trail, so I didn’t want to push it with Bailey. Instead we headed back and I let her splash in the river.

Smith Rock State Park

Robert Sawyer Park

Sawyer Park is a nice little city park which is also close to Tumalo campground, where we were staying. There’s a bridge over the Deschutes river, that leads to a trail network and offered access to the river for splashing around.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

The Painted Hills unit is almost two full hours from Bend, but well worth the trip. I can’t say that I’ve seen any place like this in the US! I only learned about it when I was looking into a trip to the Painted Mountains in Peru! There isn’t much hiking here, just a short trail up to some overlooks, but it’s a great spot for photography! It’s also a beautiful drive from Bend.

Painted Hills - John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Stay in Bend

Tumalo State Park

We camped at Tumalo State Park for this visit and it remains one of my favorite campsites of the trip. It is practically right in town, but you would never know it when you’re at the park. The lower loop, which did not have hookups, is right along the river and very quiet. The upper loops featured shower houses and you can also rent yurts here!

Tumalo State Park

Tumalo State Park

Riverhouse Hotel

If camping isn’t your jam, check out the Riverhouse Hotel for dog-friendly digs. They were full when I visited, but we were given a tour of the property before dinner at the restaurant. My first impression of the hotel was the scent – the lobby and common areas smell like Westin’s White Tea scent, which is one of my favorites. I was already sold!

The location along the river can’t be beat!

Currents at the Riverhouse

The hotel recently underwent a major renovation, which you can see in the guest rooms. The pet fee at the Riverhouse is a bit high at $75, but if you’re staying more than a few nights, it’s not bad averaged out over the stay. Only 2 of the buildings are pet-friendly, so be sure to reserve early!

The Riverhouse Hotel

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I was provided with a complimentary dinner and a tour at Riverhouse Hotel. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.

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Summer Fun in Ouray, Colorado

I really had a tough time deciding where to go in Colorado this year. Do I stick with my old favorites, the familiar places I know and love? Or explore some new areas? Ultimately, I did a little bit of both, but I couldn’t resist the rumors of the San Juan mountain range. I spent 1 night in Telluride several years ago, but otherwise this was a new corner of Colorado for me.

Ouray is called “the Switzerland of America” which is funny, since I just returned from two weeks of hiking in Switzerland. Switzerland was beautiful, but I found the diversity of scenery in Ouray even better – in addition to the usual mountain peaks, you also have a lot of red rock, including the Red Mountains, which were so scenic! I arrived from Silverton and Durango over the “Million Dollar Highway” which provided breathtaking scenery, but also required 100% attention on the road!

Red Mountains

Ouray’s downtown is a designated National Historic District and serves as the hub for all kinds of outdoor recreation, including hot springs, hundreds of miles of historic Jeep trails, the world-famous Ouray Ice Park and close to 100 hiking trails. History buffs will also appreciate the mining history and Victorian buildings that remain in and around Ouray.

Downtown Ouray

Ouray Jeep Tour

Colorado West Jeep TourImogene Pass

Ouray is a prime destination for Jeep and 4×4 enthusiasts. I tried taking my Subaru down a mining road and after scraping up the bumper during a 137-point turn, I decided I better leave the off-roading to the professionals. (That Subaru is my home!) Walking down Main St, I popped in to Colorado West Jeep Tours to see about a tour. They had two scheduled for the following day, so I signed up for the morning departure, which was a 4-hour ride to Imogene Pass. ($61.95 for 1 adult)

Colorado West Jeep TourImogene Pass

We met our driver, Ken, an Ouray native, at 8am and since there were only 3 of us on the tour, we were able to take a comfortable Jeep instead of the usual open-air trucks they take on the tour. At first, I worried this might be less adventurous, but it was still super fun, just warmer!

Colorado West Jeep TourImogene Pass

Ken was full of information about the mining history – his dad was a miner – as well as current developments in the area. When I expressed my surprise that everyday tourists can waltz in and rent a Jeep, he regaled us with tales of horror stories and I was once again glad I was not in the drivers seat!

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Just one hour from Ouray, Black Canyon is a relatively new National Park (designated in 1999) and much less crowded than many other National Parks. The canyon is carved by the Gunnison River, which drops an average of 95 feet per mile in the park carving a canyon that is an average of 2,000 feet deep. The park is also designated as an International Dark Sky Park and has special astronomy programs.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The South Rim drive offers 12 viewpoints where you can exit your car and get astounding views of the canyon and river below. The viewpoints and short trails are mostly dog-friendly, which was a pleasant surprise.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Taking the East Portal road, you can drop (at 16% grade!) down to the river level, where you’ll also find the campground.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

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Photography in Ouray

Of course, photography is a part of most of my activities, but on this trip I spent a lot of time driving around specifically in pursuit of some cool shots. Following directions from Photographing the Southwest: Volume 3-Colorado/New Mexico, I had a great time chasing down interesting locations that were off the beaten path. Through the book, I learned that there is a public highway easement right through Ralph Lauren’s 17,000 acre ranch, so of course I had to take a spin back there!

Sneffels Range

The book mostly targets scenic stands of aspen trees, which will be glorious in the fall…most likely late September. Sadly, I was a few weeks early, but I can’t complain about the scenery!

Sneffels Range

Sneffels Range

Dog Boarding in Ouray

Not all of Ouray’s activities are dog-friendly, but that’s no reason to miss out! (But please don’t leave your dog in the car or tent!) I stopped in to Ouray Dog Company on Main St, to ask about dog boarding in town. I was directed to Chris’ Pet Grooming, LLC. Chris lives right in town and was able to fit Bailey in for a 1/2 day while I went on a Jeep tour. She charged $20 for 1/2 day, which seemed really reasonable, especially given the short notice!

Uncompahgre River in downtown Ouray

Ouray Campgrounds

I stayed at the Ouray KOA for this trip. The campground is just 10 minutes from downtown Ouray and also close to nearby Ridgway. The tent sites are separated from the RV area, which is nice, although more shade would have been nice! It’s a huge campground with multiple sections. There were bears in camp each night (I heard about bear problems throughout Ouray) but luckily they stayed out of my site! The Creekside Cafe serves breakfast daily from 7:30-10:30. Since I visited after Labor Day, they were running specials to get rid of inventory, so the menu was limited, but at a great discount!

Camping setupColeman Air Mattress Cot

I initially stopped at 4J+1+1 RV Park in town as I thought the location was nice, in walking distance of Main St. However, all of the campsites were just rocks on cement, and on top of each other with no separating trees or anything. The ladies were very nice and refunded my money when I realized there was no way I could get a tent stake in the ground. If you’ve got a camper and want to be right in town, this is a good spot right on the river!

Getting to Ouray

Ouray is fairly remote as far as Colorado towns go. You will need a vehicle as there is no airport in Ouray. I approached from the south, coming through Durango and Silverton. This is a super scenic route, but would scare me in sketchy weather! You can also arrive through Montrose in the north, which is also where you’ll find the nearest commercial airport.

Have you been to Colorado? What’s your favorite mountain town?

So much fun to be had in Ouray, Colorado! @Ouray_CO #VisitOuray Click To Tweet

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