There are particular places in the world where all the elements gather together to craft a certain slant of light during the summertime. Where the season lives bright in your imagination long after it turns. Sunriver, Oregon is one of those places. I’m almost certain that Ray Bradbury referenced it when he wrote Dandelion Wine, for no hours spent in Illinois could possibly have been as exciting as a single day along the Cascade Mountains. Truly, “summer gathered in the weather, the wind had the proper touch, the breathing of the world was long and warm and slow. You only had to rise (…) and know that this indeed was the first real time of freedom and living.” (1.1)
Sprawling across 3,300 acres of pristine Oregon country, Sunriver is the home to a residential and resort community in Deschutes County. At 4,164’, its high desert boasts lush meadows, pine forests, and the blue courses of the Deschutes. With world class amenities such as kayaking, fly fishing, spa and fitness centers, golf, mountain biking, and music and art festivals, there is something for each and every member of the family.
One of the most popular and convenient whitewater rafting outfitters leads tours through the Deschutes. Sun Country Tours (www.suncountrytours.com) includes transportation to and from the experience, all equipment, and expert guiding down the river’s popular Class III rapid, nicknamed “The Big Eddy.” A three hour round-trip tour easily fits into a morning or afternoon, so there is plenty of time to rehash the adventure over lunch or dinner afterwards! Big Eddy sounds too intimidating for your crew? Choose from other adventures down the Deschutes or the North Umpqua.
If you’d rather explore your virtual options, Sunriver VR (sunrivervr.com) rents virtual reality rooms for 1-5 players. Virtually go anywhere in the world: “hunt dinosaurs, battle zombies, defend your castle gate.” With over 1,600 mind blowing games and experiences to choose from, the world is literally at your fingertips. Perfect for birthday parties, or just a special night out, Sunriver VR has the space and time to get you into some serious fun. And from $10, you’ll have plenty leftover to pay a visit to the Sunriver Toyhouse (www.sunrivertoyhousetoys.com). Your DIY vacation headquarters, the Toyhouse is fully stocked for any adventure you can imagine. Tubes, rafts, SUP’s, kayaks, bikes, jet skis. You name it, they have it. Let the river take you downstream, or paddle around its bends and curves. Plan a trip that keeps you near your river entry point, or stay out all day for a two, four, or eight hour float. If staying on trail is your preferred method of adventure, you can choose your own ride: tandem, mountain bike, cruisers or fully equipped touring bikes are all available for the picking! The Toyhouse even has squirt guns for the kids and waterproof cameras to record their shenanigans.
Keeping the kids busy can be a task when it comes to vacationing. Morning paddle and an afternoon ride? Or perhaps getting up close and personal with nature – like eye-to-eye with a Great Horned Owl would satisfy their need for exploration and excitement. The Sunriver Nature Center has hands-on activities and exhibits that fit easily into a weekend vacation, and their staff of naturalists are more than willing to “keep your kids engaged and provide an exciting new perspective on the natural world.” Pair up the Nature Center with an evening at the Oregon Observatory, and you’ll have experienced the full range of a summer day in the great outdoors.
Sunriver’s elevation, pitch-dark surroundings, and crystal clear air make it perfect for stargazing. The Observatory boasts the largest collection of telescopes for public viewing in the United States, and when the historic eclipse was set to darken an enormous swath of the state at the end of August, they opened the roof to Sunriver- to the endless days of summer, and let the magic begin.
For more information on all the things to see and do in Central Oregon: www.visitcentraloregon.com