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Van Lifers & Overlanders Unite at Descend on Bend

Roofnest Team

Feb 22, 2024

Van lifers and overlander at descend on bend, Van with rooftop camper at festival with big tent and stage|Van lifers and overlander at descend on bend, group of people singing by campfire|Van lifers and overlander at descend on bend, man on bike jumping
Image courtesy of Oregon is a state with such dynamic natural beauty, it needs to be seen to be believed. From the dramatic coastal cliffs in Coos Bay to the lush green forests that surround Mount Hood’s snowy summit, tourists from around the world can get their toes wet in endless outdoor adventures (and we mean that literally...there’s a lot of rain). But then there’s Bend, Oregon. Bend is host to some of the state’s lesser-known geographic features — high desert plains, long semi-arid summers, sagebrush, and a ski bums’ favorite, Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort. For overlanders and van lifers, Bend is the epicenter for connecting with like-minded adventurers who prefer living life on four wheels.

What is Descend on Bend?

Descend on Bend is an annual gathering that brings together overlanding and van life enthusiasts from across the country for four long days of fun, food, learning, and camaraderie. Participants circle up their rigs around the “hole in the ground” (the remains of a natural volcano) to camp, potluck, learn new skills, play music, and celebrate all the best things about living life on the road.

When and Where is Descend on Bend?

Descend on Bend takes place in La Pine, Oregon, a small town just outside of Bend proper. This year the festival will be on Labor Day weekend — August 29 through September 2, 2019. When you register for the event, you receive private land access for four nights of camping in the Oregon outback, along with entry to the full docket of outdoor activities, workshops, and communal meals throughout the long weekend.

Activities at Descend on Bend

Descend on Bend provides participants with equal measures of fun and learning, thanks to the array of colorful activities and workshops that take place throughout the festival. Be sure to come hungry, because there’s no shortage of community meals to share with fellow participants. And don’t forget the antacids, because you’ll want to help decide who should take home the trophy for the salsa and chili contests. Activities at the festival include the following:
  • Community potluck
  • Salsa contest
  • Chili contest
  • BBQ dinners
  • Charity pancake breakfast (proceeds go to ONDA, The Oregon Natural Desert Association
  • Creatives community swap & meet
  • Slip-n-slide mud grotto
  • Heritage Distilling ladies' cocktail hour & whiskey tastings
  • “Nightly hootenanny” including live music, dancing, and more
  • Late night live music sessions
  • A raffle you won’t want to miss
This list doesn’t include the mysterious “inaugural moondust classic”, something described as “a thing to be experienced, not explained.” (If you turn into a fairy or werewolf, we won’t take responsibility).

Outdoor Workshops at Descend on Bend

Don’t go too crazy at those late-night hootenannies, because you’ll want to hit the coffee truck early and be revved up and ready for all the exciting outdoor workshops throughout the weekend. From daily yoga to nature hikes to presentations, you’ll have your hands, feet, and mind full with the wide variety of featured workshops throughout the event:
  • Morning yoga at the rim of the “hole in the ground” (remember that sunken volcano we mentioned earlier?)
  • Nature-observation walks and trail-runs lead by ONDA
  • Cast-iron camp cooking workshop
  • Sewing, knitting, and gear care workshop
  • Leather small goods workshops
  • Overland “recovery syncro run” workshop led by Vivid Vans
  • Happy hour songwriters’ session led by Portland-based singer-songwriter Austin Quattlebaum
  • Overland the Americas presentation: “The Pan-American Highway”

More Outdoor Fun in Bend

Once all the chili’s been eaten, the whiskey’s been drunk, and the last song has been sung, spend a day or two after the Descend on Bend festival exploring all the outdoor recreation Deschutes County has to offer. Bring your mountain bike and get ready to blast off some berms on one of the many mountain bike trails throughout the area. Or set up a line along the Deschutes River and try your hand at snagging some of the best salmon the country has to offer. Hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, paragliding, and golf are also all on the table in and around Bend. And for overlanders itching to get a few runs in with their rig, you don’t have to go far to find a forested back road with your name on it.

Go Far With a Roofnest

At Roofnest, we’re long-time members of both the overlanding and van life community. Our hard-shell roof top tents are designed to fit onto any rig setup, so you can comfortably sleep under the stars wherever you park. But don’t just take our word for it. Our Roofnest Ambassadors Karissa & Linhbergh slung a Sparrow Eye on top of their Mitsubishi Montero and have been blazing trails all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Follow their adventures and see where overlanding with a Roofnest could take you »