Central Oregon is one of the most magnificent natural playgrounds in this part of the world, with a scenic collage of green forest and black basalt outcroppings topped by extinct volcano cones covered with snow. Plenty of lakes, rivers, and waterfalls provide a sparkling contrast to the earth tones.
It’s easy to find ways to explore these natural areas: hiking, biking, and cross-country ski trails abound, as do resorts both luxurious and rustic, waterways teeming with fish, and increasingly, good restaurants and shopping.
There are several premier resorts in Deschutes County that have helped transform it from a primarily agricultural area to the Aspen of the Northwest. Golf, horseback riding, tennis, swimming, biking-jogging-hiking trails, saunas, and hot tubs grace these year-round playgrounds, along with first-rate lodgings and restaurants. Ski packages and other special offers are also available at each establishment. Among the best resorts are:
The Central Oregon Cascades, and especially Mount Bachelor , are a haven for winter sports that range from alpine and Nordic skiing to snowmobiling, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Skiing can be a special treat for west-side Oregonians accustomed to Mount Hood ’s fierce weather and frequently heavy snow. Of course, Bachelor is in Oregon, not Utah, so don’t expect all powder all the time.
If you plan to do a bit of hiking in the national forests, pick up a Northwest Forest Pass , which is required for parking at most trailheads and which will get you into sites such as the Lava Lands Visitor Center . Passes (www.fs.fed.us/r6/passespermits , $5 one-day, $30 one-year) are sold online and at ranger stations, visitors centers, most local resorts, and many sporting-goods and outdoors stores.
Central Oregon has gained recognition for world-class golfing. And no wonder: With over a dozen courses, this region of the state offers just about every kind of golf challenge. The warm sunny days, cool evenings, and spectacular mountain scenery make every shot a memorable one.
With respect to everything except rain, the climate is a bit more extreme here that it is on the west side of the Cascades. Expect it to be fairly dry, though perhaps not as constantly sunny as advertised in many tourist publications—that snow on Mount Bachelor  has to come from somewhere, cold in the winter, and hot in the summer, with cool to cold evenings year-round.