Plan to spend a few days exploring this part of the state…a long weekend will do for a taste or if you’re very focused on skiing or a particular hiking trip or fishing destination.
Bend  is a natural base in the area, but it’s also worth considering Sunriver , especially if you have a family or group of friends. Both of these places allow easy access to the Deschutes River, the High Desert Museum , and the Lava Lands  sights.
In the summer, camping is another good option. There are few campgrounds prettier than the ones along the Cascades Lake Highway , and most have good places to fish and hike nearby. However, if fishing is going to be your main activity, don’t overlook Prineville ; the Crooked River offers outstanding fly-fishing and a string of campgrounds below the Prineville Reservoir.
A great way to explore central Oregon in depth is through Wanderlust Tours (143 SW Cleveland Ave., Bend, 541/389-8359 or 800/962-2862, www.wanderlusttours.com ), where the focus is on the area’s geology, history, flora, fauna, and local issues. Wanderlust has been in this business for years and really does it right; it’s generally thought to be the best tour company east of the Cascades. Day trips to Crater Lake , the Lava Lands , the Deschutes River, and the Cascades Lakes Highway  are featured.
Canoe lakes in the high Cascades ($47), or take a hike that’s selected for your group’s interests and abilities. Snowshoe tours ($47 half-day) and snow camping are available in winter, and special moonlight trips can be arranged too. All-day trips include lunch; vegetarian meals available on request.