The first time I went to Bend was on a snowboarding trip to Mt. Bachelor back in 2004. I loved it; it's such a beautiful town with wonderful access to a variety of outdoor activities and features. Since moving to Oregon, I have been to Bend three times.
Sparks Lake is probably one of the best known and most photographed places in the area. It provides beautiful views of South Sister and Broken Top, and if you move to the right position, you can see Mt Bachelor as well. The first time I visited here was back in June and we were greeted with a spectacular sunset with some beautiful lenticular clouds.
The second visit was quite the opposite; on my recent trip just this past week (November 1-3rd, 2016), I decided I wanted to see the sunrise at Sparks Lake. We left Bend shortly after 6am and were welcomed with glowing peaks and glassy water. The reflection was perfect; not a ripple in the water! Watching South Sister and Broken Top glow pink was incredible - all we could see was glowing peaks both in the sky and on the water in front of us. Sadly, by the time I had my camera setup the sky lightened up just enough that the peaks were no longer the only lit features.
Stepping away from Sparks Lake for a moment, there is so much more to offer in the Bend area. This trip we explored the beauty of the Metolius River. The color was so much like the rivers of Iceland and we found an area called Wizard Falls, which reminded me of Brúarfoss. The water pours over rocks and into a slot that really allows the colors of the river to glow. In addition to the water itself, the moss covered rocks beneath the surface of the crystal clear water offer an abstract view.
Our last day in Bend I woke up early for the sunrise, but I was feeling lazy, the cloud forecast wasn't looking promising and so I opted to stay in bed. I laid there arguing with myself for a solid hour that I should have gotten up and gone back to Sparks, but I didn't. I decided to look out the window in hopes of fooling myself that I chose wisely, but of course the sky had other plans. I could see beautiful clouds over Broken Top casting beautiful blue and pink colors, almost taunting me for being lazy. Needless to say, I did start the day a bit bitter that I had decided to stay in bed rather than enjoy the sunrise.
We drove the Cascade Lakes loop, making a stop at Todd Lake, an area brought to my attention the day before at Sparks by a very nice guy named Ryan Field (who has a wonderful Instagram feed focusing on the Central Oregon region - check him out on Instagram @Ryan_field_). The Cascade Lakes area is beautiful; the landscape is full of lakes and incredible old lava flows. You can also see a lot of burn zones from wildfires over the years. Truly a valley of fire if you get my drift.
From the Cascade Lakes we drove back to Portland, but opted to go another route and take Willamette Pass into Eugene. The clouds in the sky were looking promising for a nice sunset, so my next course of action was to find a place with a view. We came up on Odell Lake and ironically, saw a sign for an area called "Sunset Cove". I decided why not, and we pulled up, parked and walked along the water until I found a place to shoot.
The sky was filled with cotton ball looking clouds; I was hopeful, but I knew it was still going to be sometime until the sun was low enough to provide any color and that over that course of time, the clouds could break and leave us with a bland sunset. Well, I can say the clouds did break apart and as I watched I became frustrated and felt like the sunset was going to be a total bust.
The sun started to set, the clouds went from blue to gray and I thought it was all over, but then, on the horizon, the sky started to glow pink. The longer I sat there and waited, the more and more the sky started to glow beautiful hues of pink and orange!
Needless to say, the sunset did not disappoint, nor did the entire trip to Bend. It's such a beautiful part of Oregon with more sun, nicer weather, a beautiful cluster of volcanic peaks mixed in a diverse landscape. I love Bend and I always have a wonderful time when I'm down there. If you haven't been to Bend, I strongly suggest you visit sometime.