Dare the Bear

| April 07, 2005

Anglers come from all over the world to the swift, green Deschutes River, attracted by a world-class steelhead fishery. These big fighting trout are a challenge to any fisherman, but they are a particularly special triumph here because of restrictions on both the bait and tackle you can use. If you prefer hunting, there are parts of the park well above the river valley where you can hunt upland game birds and waterfowl.

History buffs also get a special treat here. Traces of the legendary Oregon Trail can be seen across the river from the main campground. And just a few miles away in the town of The Dalles, America’s pioneers once loaded their wagons onto rafts for their journey down the Columbia River.

Not far from the park you can fish for salmon and windsurf on the mighty Columbia, and you can jetboat on both the Deschutes and the Columbia. Want to do more? The park offers equestrian trails in the summer and whitewater rafting, biking, boating and camping year round.

Yes, you can take your tractor into the park, hook it up and make your own little woodland cabin. But Anderson has two suggestions: “It can be tight to turn around here if you come with a trailer,” he says. “Always call ahead; sometimes there’s not much space available.” The park is open year round and there are no fees. But before you head out, take Jim’s advice and call the park at (800) 555-6949 or (541) 739-2322. For campground reservations call (800) 452-5687.

How to get there:
The park is off Highway 206, 17 miles east of The Dalles. Eastbound on I-84 take exit 97. Westbound use exit 104 at Biggs Junction. Follow the signs on Highway 206 to reach the park. Or, if you come north from the Redmond, Ore., area, you can exit to 206 where it meets U.S. 97.

Off the Beaten Road
Put Your Mettle to the Pedal
Off-road bike trails go through some of America’s wildest places.

Drivers who want to get out into wild America but can’t find the time – and I get a lot of e-mail about lack of “outdoor” time in a trucker’s life – can easily plunge themselves into some real open air adventures whenever they have a layover.

Mountain or trail biking may sound a little extreme, but consider this – it is a relatively inexpensive sport that has great health benefits. Biking is a great exercise, and when you live an over-the-road driver’s life, exercise is about the most beneficial thing you can do for your health.

Another plus is that equipment is easy to take along with you. Most drivers can fit a bike into their cab. There are even some bikes that fold.

The key to getting started is to find the right equipment. In this sport, equipment is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Try a pro bike shop, or go online. I suggest a good search engine like www.google.com. Or go to a site like www.dirtworld.com or www.mtbr.com. If you are looking for folding bikes, both Montague and Dahon make good ones (and an Internet search will find others).

Once you have found that perfect bike, you’ll need to know what riding opportunities await you along your route. This is one sport where the Internet helps tremendously. It’s the easy way to find places to ride, and directions for them, wherever you are. Some, like www.dirtworld.com and www.mountainbikingonline.com, are easy and helpful. But I suggest going to a major search engine and typing in “mountain biking” and the name of the state you’re considering for an outdoor adventure.

No matter where you decide to ride, keep one thing in mind: If you don’t exercise regularly, you shouldn’t just jump into the saddle. You should talk to your doctor before you start any new exercises like trail biking. And when you do start, begin slowly and build up gradually.

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