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Bend, Oregon, is a natural playground for families and nature enthusiasts alike. Named “The 2017 Best Multi-Sport Town” by Outside Magazine, Bend has edged out tough competition to earn this impressive title. Whether you are interested in summiting extinct volcanoes, mountain biking through majestic forest, whitewater rafting, indoor and outdoor rock climbing, skiing on Mount Bachelor, or fly fishing in the Deschutes River—Bend has an activity for you. It’s no wonder that people all across the country are visiting this small town year-round. According to a 2017 visitor survey, 37% of summer tourists to bend were in-state visitors, particularly from the Portland Metro Area. However, a handful of must-see places also exist just outside of Bend’s city limits!
As a local, avid outdoorsman, and the real estate professional, Peter Lowes, is frequently asked to recommend the best places in and around Bend to clients and tourists. In 1982 Lowes moved to the United States from Scotland and began working in investment real estate with Preferred Investments in Long Beach, California. After several years, Peter moved north to Bend, Oregon—the perfect locale for this avid adventurer. Today, he is the founder of Knightsbridge Realty, a top-rated firm in the area, and TEA Together (Teaching Environmental Awareness), a scholarship program for students pursuing science and environmental studies. As a lover of all things nature, Lowes is more than happy to reveal his favorite outdoor spots with readers. So, if you are up for an awe-inspiring day trip, consider buckling up and heading to one of the exciting attractions listed below.
Pilot Butte State Park (Deschutes County in Bend, Oregon)
Locals have referred to Pilot Butte as Bend’s North Star; observable from just about any point in town, it’s a handy navigational tool that can help you find your way. Interestingly, this topographic landmark aided wagon train immigrants eager to safely cross the Deschutes River. Pilot Butte is an extinct cinder cone that was produced during a volcanic eruption roughly 188,000 years ago. When the volcano erupted, lava began to spew from a vent in the ground, which later cooled and solidified. These remains created a 480-foot cone shape around the vent. Want to boast about climbing one of the few city-dwelling volcanoes in the nation? Well, you can! Visitors can choose between a mile-long paved road, a challenging nature trail, or a path that winds up the extinct volcano. Regardless of the route you take, once at the top, you will have achieved 360-degree views of stunning mountains, deserts, trees, and cityscape. Lowes recommends visiting in the spring to witness the wildflowers blooming, including sand lily, rock cress, paintbrush, blazing star, buckwheat, and monkeyflower.
Smith Rock State Park (26 miles northeast of Bend)
Smith Rock State Park has been dubbed one of the “7 Wonders of Oregon,” alongside the Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake, the Oregon Coast, Mount Hood, Painted Hills, and the Wallowas—and for a good reason. Smith Rock State Park is the origin place of sport climbing in the United States. Cliffs of tuff and basalt are perfect for rock climbing, and there is no shortage of routes available to guests. Today, both seasoned athletes and new climbers visit the area to participate in traditional climbing, bouldering, hiking, and mountain biking. As a keen adventurer, Lowes can’t help but rate this destination high on his list of must-visits. With 300 days of sunny skies per year, this region is perfect for outdoor exploring and is located near other Oregon hotspots, like Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument and Mount Bachelor. Not a fan of outdoor sports? Nature lovers will still gush over the opportunity to see various forms of wildlife, including golden eagles, river otters, beavers, prairie falcons, and more.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument (Bend, Oregon)
Newberry National Volcanic Monument is a stunning volcanic attraction located within the boundaries of Deschutes National Forest. While it’s commonly called Newberry “Crater,” it’s actually a caldera that spans across 17 square miles in the core of the volcano. This volcano, which is equal in size to the state of Rhode Island, is still seismically and geothermally active. Today, scientists are working hard to fully understand the “sleeping giant” that is Newberry Crater and watch for even the slightest signs of turmoil. Overseen by the United States Forest Service, the monument affords visitors the rare privilege of viewing more than 50,000 acres of lakes, molten rock, and other topographical formations. On your day trip, Lowes recommends waking up early to explore the Lava River Cave, the largest continuous lava tube in Oregon. Next, he suggests driving to Paulina Lake Road and participating in a hike up to Paulina Falls, a relatively easy and peaceful trek through nature. At this point, you’ve earned a tasty lunch, so head to Paulina Lake Lodge to enjoy a hearty meal and socialize with interesting people you may meet.
Crater Lake National Park (90 miles south of Bend)
Another one of the seven wonders of Oregon, Crater Lake National Park, tops Lowes’ list of splendid places to travel just outside of Bend. Famous for being the deepest lake in all of the U.S. at 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is also one of the cleanest bodies of water in the world. Mount Mazama erupted nearly 7,700 years ago, leading to the formation of Crater Lake. Legend has it that the Makalak people who were native to the area believed the eruption occurred due to a violent battle between the spirit of the sky and the spirit of the mountain. In general, most people come to this region to hike, as there are more than 90 miles of trail divided into four classes: easy, moderate, difficult, and strenuous. These paths include Cleetwood Cove Trail, Pinnacles Overlook, Watchman Peak, Garfield Peak, Sun Notch Trail, and Wizard Island Summit. Lowes’ favorite trail, by far, is Mount Scott. As the highest point in the region, Mount Scott offers the most spectacular panoramic views of the park. Additionally, this trail allows you to hike alongside gorgeous alpine wildflowers before coming to a cozy fire lookout. Lowes recommends that you use caution when deciding whether to attempt this summit as it is rated ‘difficult.’
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (90 to 210 miles from Bend)
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is made up of three areas: Sheep Rock, Painted Hills, and Clarno. “Visiting all three units in one day is difficult but not impossible,” says Lowes. However, if you only have time for one, then he suggests visiting Painted Hills. Less than two hours away from Bend, this stunning region is comprised of colorful banks of fossilized ash and clay in red, tan, orange, gold, and black hues. Essentially, these beautiful rock formations provide a record of plant and animal evolution, changing climate, and tell a story of past ecosystems dating nearly 40 million years ago. For instance, if you decide to visit, you will see a diverse collection of leaf fossils called the Bridge Creek Flora. While the fossil beds are beautiful at any time of day, you will get the best photos in the late afternoon during the ‘golden hour.’ Again, Lowes recommends visiting in the spring so you can get a clear view of the vibrant rock after the snow has melted.
As you now know, there is an abundance of natural attractions in and around Bend, Oregon. Found on most “must-travel” lists within the United States, Oregon is a place for passionate adventurers and nature enthusiasts. If you fall into one or both of these categories, consider putting these five locations on your next spring/summer bucket list, and you won’t regret it!
(Disclaimer: The article is sponsored, and hence promotes some commercial links.)
Along with the undeniable natural beauty, the Kashmir valley has developed a reputation for adventurous activities like trekking, hiking, and river rafting. Kashmir has maintained its charm, allowing us to time-travel into beautiful destinations which make one forget about the stress and worries of life. The hikes in Kashmir offer adventurers to go on a self-discovery trip through nature's lap over the mountains while taking in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds them on their journey. In addition to the hikes, there are many thrilling adventure activities, like rock climbing, rope climbing, etc. Trekking across the region of mountains and lakes will allow you to experience living in the "Paradise on Earth," and you wouldn't want to return to your regular life after that.
The following are some of the finest hiking destinations in Kashmir:
#1: Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. In addition to three high-altitude passes and five river valley crossings, this is the only trip in the Himalayas that includes seven alpine lakes, each of which is a stunning shade of green, blue, or turquoise. The extravagance is limitless and breathtakingly stunning every day: infinite blue sky, a larger-than-life backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, colourful meadows overflowing with wildflowers, river crossings are just a few examples of what you will encounter during the trek.
You will be transported to a heavenly and unseen aspect of Kashmir on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. | Photo by prayer flags on Unsplash
#2: Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora Trek: The Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides a glimpse into Kashmir's undiscovered regions. Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey that is the perfect experience for anyone looking to get away from the frantic tourist rush. This trek is a fascinating journey that allows nature enthusiasts to bask in the splendour of nature's grandeur. The trek goes over many high mountain passes, some as high as 4000 metres in elevation. The hiking route, in addition to providing breathtaking views of the magnificent Vishansar Lake, provides visitors with the chance to see more than 50 alpine lakes.
Sonamarg, famously known as the Meadows of Gold, is the starting point for this fascinating journey. | Photo by YASER NABI MIR on Unsplash
ALSO READ: Top 10 Beautiful Sights To VIsit In Kashmir
#3: Tral-Narastan-Marsar Trek: The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. The hiking trail passes past a waving saffron field, beautiful meadows, and several streams. The path also crosses the Dachigam National Park, where there is an opportunity to see various animal species. Trekkers may take in spectacular views of the high mountains running parallel to them as they cut and pass through Narastan, a Hindu pilgrimage place.
The Tral-Narastan-Marsar trek is filled with a range of exciting experiences from beginning to end. | Wikimedia Commons
#4: Chhatargul-Mahlish-Gangabal: The journey, which passes through beautiful locations such as Chattargul, Mahlish, Kolsar, and Trunkul, provides a peek into an utterly uninhabited wilderness of Kashmir. There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one trek into the alpine wilderness. Trekkers can also enjoy fishing in the crystal clear lakes, camping, or just seeing towering snow-capped mountains while on their journey.
There are lakes and meadows adorned with flowers along the route as one treks into the alpine wilderness. | Wikimedia Commons
#5: Kolahoi Base Camp Trek: The Kolahoi Base Camp trek in Kashmir has been famous since the early 1900s and has been a goal for many seasoned hikers from across the world. While Srinagar serves as the beginning point for the trip, it is in Aru Valley that the actual hiking begins. The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. The breathtaking sight of the peaks rising into the sky on the horizon of the Pirpanjal and Karakoram ranges is certainly worth capturing. It is considered to be one of the most popular treks in the Kashmir valley.
The Kolahoi Base Camp Trek is a gentle adventure that is ideal for novices and families with children. | Wikimedia Commons
Kashmir's natural splendour, with its beautiful valleys and towering mountains, is really unlike anywhere. Trekking through various valleys and peaks while taking in the scenic beauty is something that always calms the heart and provides us with memories that we will remember for a lifetime.
Keywords: Kashmir, Lakes, Alpine, Hiking, Trekking, Treks, Sonamarg, Gangabal, Kolahoi, Chhatargul, Mahlish, Tral, Narastan, Marsar
The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
At the heart of Bangalore city, a large 300-acre space of lush greenery and heritage stands as a symbol of the city's past, present, and future. Cubbon Park is every child's favourite park, every Bangalorean's haven of fresh air, and altogether, the city's pride.
It stands testament to the past, in terms of the diversity of flora it houses. Bangalore traffic in the recent past has grown into a menace, but the stretch between MG Road and Cubbon Park is always a pleasurable place to stop and wait for the signal to turn green. The gust of wind that blows here, and the smell of mud, coupled with floral scents instantly transports citizens to Old Bangalore, where the weather was fine, and the trees loomed over roads with thick canopies that did not even allow rainwater to penetrate. Cubbon Park is also a historical site, and one of the few remaining monuments of colonial heritage in Central Bangalore. It houses many statues and among them, the most famous is that of Queen Victoria, which faces the St. Mark's Square.
The stretch outside Cubbon Park is cool and well-shaded from the canopy of trees over it. Image source: wikimedia commons
At present, Cubbon Park is known for the cultural hub that it is. It houses Jawahar Bal Bhavan, which is a large theatre that hosts film festivals through the year. Festivals, poetry open mics, and other such shows are conducted on the lawns every Sunday. A small stream runs through the park, where boat rides are held occasionally when the water level is high enough. There is a children's park on one corner, and a government-maintained aquarium, two-storeys tall, with exotic fish.
The Park has been renamed many times in the past. It was originally named Meade's Park, after Sir John Meade, the acting commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was later changed to Cubbon Park after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the longest-serving commissioner of the Mysore state. In 1927, the park was renamed after the Mysore Maharaja Sri Krishna Wodeyar, to celebrate his silver jubilee, since the park was developed during the reign of his ancestors. Even though it is officially named Sri Chamrajendra Park, it is still known as Cubbon Park all over the city. In fact, Bangalore was alluded the sobriquet of 'Garden City' because of the rich botanical diversity of this park.
Art Installation at Cubbon Park Image source: wikimedia commons
In many parts of the country, governments have renamed structures, places, and cities to remove traces of colonialism. But, in a city like Bangalore, there is too much evidence of the British rule. Many of the most prominent attractions of the city are known by their British identities despite the change in name. Even the city's name continues to be Bangalore, despite having been changed to Bengaluru. Last year, the British era and its achievements were celebrated in Cubbon Park when Sir Mark Cubbon's statue was moved from the grounds of the Karnataka High Court and placed in the Park.
Keywords: Cubbon Park, Mark Cubbon, British Colonialism, Cultural hub, Garden City