The first time we visited Bend, in Summer, 2018, smoke from nearby wildfires blanketed the region through most of our visit. This time, wildfire smoke drove us to Bend when we canceled our Fall travel plans and found ourselves with nowhere to go. Fortunately, the smoke finally cleared, and our friends who live in Bend told us about Crown Villa RV Resort.
Crown Villa RV Resort
I had heard of Crown Villa before, but knew it only as an exceedingly pricey option. Like $90-$100 per night, pricey. (What I like to call “GFY Pricing.” And that doesn’t stand for “Good For You.”)
But our friends told us they offered discounted offseason monthly rates and once I started digging in, I realized they were actually pretty reasonable. In October, we paid $31 per night, while in November, we paid just $23 per night.*
Each enormous site is constructed with these nice pavers, there’s separate parking for your car, a storage shed at the back, and spacious grassy areas on either side.
This was our site – which easily could have accommodated multiple Barney-sized motorhomes:
There are huge common lawns between rows of sites which provided plenty of squirrel monitoring opportunities for the doggo:
and they even have trash and recycling pickup from your site.
We got our own trash can, y’all!!!!
The resort has tennis/pickleball courts, a fenced in dog run, a hot tub/steam room/fitness center (some of which was closed because of Covid), and many other well maintained facilities. But, truth be told, all we care about is space and Crown Villa delivered that better than just about any commercial campground we’ve stayed at.
We ended up staying for seven weeks and just loved it.
Bend is a really nice town and the local government obviously spends tons of money keeping it that way. Sidewalks, streets, parks, and schools are all well maintained and modern. Residents take pride in their homes and neighborhoods. The overall vibe is warm and welcoming, and the people are refreshingly normal (it’s not a given, trust me.)
We really noticed how cooperative locals were when it came to Covid. As we wandered around one afternoon, I remember thinking “this is what happens when a bunch of people climb into a boat, grab a paddle, and start paddling in the same direction.”
The local government made clear that its intention was to keep things open, but it needed businesses and citizens to do their parts.
Businesses responded by making their expectations clear:
and adjusting their operations to keep their customers and staff healthy…
And locals did their part by keeping their groups small, putting on masks, and bringing their wallets:
Overall, the incidence of positive cases in Bend – at least when we were there – remained relatively low, and we saw very few “out of business” signs.
What we observed in Bend was noticeably different than what we’ve observed in our current “hometown” of San Diego. Whether the right call or not, the repeated closures of businesses in southern California has resulted in numerous lawsuits, countless closed businesses, blatant rule breaking, and a much clearer sense of “us vs them” between the business community and the government. For example, this rather large sign strung across a restaurant after the government prohibited outdoor dining:
Or this “trashcan art” displaying the artist’s heartfelt thoughts about the California governor’s decision making:
I’m not here to make judgment calls on any of this. Everyone is doing their best in a bad situation. We just noticed that in Bend, it seemed like government employees, business owners, and customers were all on the same team trying to make things work rather than fighting each other. It felt a lot more cooperative and a lot less antagonistic.
Given the low test positivity rate, the willingness of businesses and residents to do what they were asked to do, and the resulting availability of what we felt were safe options, we did what we could to support local businesses while also supporting our desire to eat delicious food. While we have not partaken in indoor dining at all since the start of the pandemic, we are more than happy to hit up food trucks, grab to-go meals, and eat outside on well spaced patios – something that was easy to do in Bend.
And that meant we got to eat tacos:
And also tacos:
Bend has several “pods” of food trucks around the city. We really like The Lot, which boasts several trucks parked around a communal picnic area. There’s a roof overhead, but the sides are completely open, and on chilly days, heated benches and overhead heaters keep the space comfortable. There’s also a bar offering sixteen local beers on tap. Most importantly, in the middle of the day, it’s frequented by people who understand the art of social distancing.
The most recognizable food truck at The Lot is a historic, restored double decker bus housing “Fricken Faco.”
And ya know what “Fricken Faco” sells? Yep:
(they also sell fried chicken. Hence, the name.)
Bend also offers numerous excellent breweries, many of which had shifted their operations outside. The back wall at Silver Moon Brewing showcased some pretty incredible artwork:
When not sampling the local wares, we walked all over the place, taking advantage of the beautiful parks and interconnected trail systems in town.
The city is centered around the impressive Deschutes River
Which is surrounded by a series of manicured parks and natural trail systems:
You can basically make your own trail along the river and through the city, depending on how far you want to walk. It’s a wonderful public system, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, and we made use of it several times to get out and enjoy the Fall sunshine.
Canine tourists love it too:
One afternoon, we headed up to Pilot Butte State Park. This park, located right in the center of the city, contains a spiral path up to its top:
where visitors can take in panoramic views of Bend
and see all the volcanic mountains out in the distance.
Had I written this post four months ago, I could tell you what mountain is what, but now I have no idea, so here’s a nice map thing from the plaza at the top:
Bend also offers several nicely designed dog parks. Some, but not all, are fenced, and most offer water fountains for the dogs. Thor’s favorite was Pine Nursery which is an absolutely enormous park with walking trails, agility equipment, and a massive grassy field full of well behaved dogs and their friendly owners.
Time to Go
Honestly we were enjoying our time so much, we wanted to keep extending our stay. But, eventually, the reason for Crown Villa’s ultra affordable November prices became painfully apparent:
While it wasn’t always this cold, once we got past Halloween, we quickly started noticing huge piles of wood sprouting up outside people’s homes:
and supersized propane tanks being delivered to our more hardy neighbors.
Hell, even the dogs at Pine Nursery started showing up in GIANT fur coats.
We got the message loud and clear. It was time to head south.
Where we stayed:
Crown Villa RV Resort, Bend, Oregon
*Note: Crown Villa was recently bought out by Sun Resorts, and between the time we stayed and now, their old website has disappeared, so it’s possible their pricing and policies may change.