Bend vs Boulder

  by   |     July 3rd, 2011   |    10View Comments

Growing up in Colorado, my perception of Oregon was that it was like Seattle: green and lush, but rainy nearly every day.  I’m guessing it might be like that on the west side of the state, but I’ve been blown away at how sunny and dry Central Oregon is.

Mirror Pond in Bend, Oregon

Mirror Pond in Bend, Oregon

In fact, although Bend is only 3 hours from Portland, the weather is more similar to Denver’s.  But Central Oregon’s biggest city is not only similar to the Denver/Boulder area because of the weather; Bend has actually been coined the “New Boulder” because of the ridiculous amount of outdoor activities.

The two cities are surprisingly similar:

  • they’re both considered high desert plateaus
  • they’re both on the east side of a mountain range
  • they both have over 300 days of sunshine
  • they’re both a mecca for beer snobs
  • they both boast the ability to ski and golf in the same day

Here’s the difference:

Denver metro

  • has 2.5 million people
  • it takes at least 30 minutes to get across town, including to a decent hiking trail.
  • it takes 1.5 hours to get to the mountains

Bend, Oregon

  • has 81,000 people
  • it takes 10 minutes to get anywhere in town, including an awesome hiking trail
  • it takes 20 minutes to get to the mountains
  • the Deschutes River flows through downtown and is full of people kayaking, canoeing, tubing and stand-up paddling

What's SUP?

That’s why this Colorado native decided to pack it up after 35 years and move to Bend: it has everything I love about Colorado, but since it’s a much smaller city, it’s much easier to actually do the things I love.

Remember how I said both cities boast the ability to ski and golf in the same day?  Well I’ll let you in on a little secret: no one actually does that in Colorado because it’s a good 90-minute drive from the mountains to the city.  However, with only a 20-minute commute between the two in Bend, I think I’m going to have to finally give it a shot!



Tags: Bend Oregon, Boulder, Colorado, Denver, Deschutes River, Oregon, Outdoor recreation

10 Comments → “Bend vs Boulder”

  1. Catherine

    1 year ago

    This was so helpful! My husband and I are considering relocating from Boulder to Bend and I am currently doing research on the town. This has a lot of the little logistical things I was curious about. Thanks for posting it!

  2. Theresa

    1 year ago

    Thanks for your comment, Catherine, and I’m glad you found that post helpful! You’re going to LOVE Bend! It has everything we all love about Boulder, but without the attitude — or the high prices: Bend really got hurt in the housing crash, so you’ll be blown away by how affordable real estate is, especially compared to Boulder. And wine is super cheap out here, too ;-) Look me up when you get here and I’ll be happy to show you around! Best of luck!

  3. Josh

    11 months ago

    Theresa, I’d appreciate your updated thoughts on this comparison now that we’re into the winter months. Does Bend still feel like it stacks up well against Boulder, especially regarding weather?

  4. Theresa

    11 months ago

    Hmmm, good question, Josh. So far they still seem very similar: we’ve gotten 1 “real” snow storm in Bend so far this year, and from what I’ve heard, I think Boulder has gotten 2 or 3. But those numbers could be reversed next year. I think the snow might stick around a tad longer in Bend, and the streets might be a bit icier. But it’s hard to say for sure after just 1 snow fall. In Denver/Boulder, we’d always seem to get 1 snow storm at around Halloween, then we’d hope for a white Christmas — which we’d maybe get. People seem to say the same thing in Bend.

    But here are some other things I’ve noticed:

    the fall was more colorful in Bend than in Denver/Boulder
    the fall was much milder in Bend (although maybe this year was a fluke – I remember random years in CO with long, warm falls)
    in Colorado, I never used chains on my tires. In Bend, it seems more common that people either use chains or get studded snow tires
    the season pass for Mt. Bachelor is more expensive than any of the season passes at the Summit County ski resorts. I’m sure it’s because Mt. Bachelor is the only good mountain nearby, whereas Denver Metro has so many options that are equal distance away.

    Thanks for asking! I’ll keep you posted as the winter really gets underway! Are you thinking of relocating?

  5. Tall Trees in Bend, OR

    11 months ago

    [...] like how Boulder gets all the fame and glory.  Whereas in my comparison of Bend vs. Boulder, Bend gets my vote every [...]

  6. Josh

    11 months ago

    Yes, thinking about both of those places, so I appreciate your thoughts.

  7. Theresa

    11 months ago

    Well, both cities are nice so you really can’t lose either way. Good luck deciding!

  8. Lee

    8 months ago

    To those asking about the weather… In comparison, Bend on average at ANY given time of the year is somewhat colder than Boulder. Boulder has an average high for January of 47 degrees and a low of 20. Bend has an average high in January of 39 and a low of 20. Boulder’s summer is also a lot warmer. July is both Bend and Boulder’s warmest month and in Boulder they average a high of 88 and a low of 56 where as Bend has a high of 80 and a low of 44. Boulder does receive more snow IN TOWN than Bend, but Bend tends to keep more snow/ice on the ground on average because of the latitude. Bend is only 18 miles to Mt. Bachelor which averages over 400 inches of snow per year though, so its all relative I believe. The sun is also stronger in Boulder than in Bend(also has a lot to do with latitude). The falls and springs are also less pronounced in Bend as they tend to swing more. Boulder has more of the true “4 seasons”. All in all the weather is more of the same in both places than comparing them to somewhere else.

    *I loved in Longmont, Colorado(in between Denver and Boulder) for a couple of years before Bend.

  9. Theresa

    8 months ago

    Ah ha! Thanks for the additional information, Lee! Now that I’ve been in Bend almost a full year, I have a little better sense of the weather patterns. I agree that the snow and ice seem to stick around just a tad longer in Bend, and we also get more rain here than in Denver/Boulder. However, people keep telling me that this is a weird year, so it’ll probably take a couple more years until I can say for sure — which is what I always told people about Colorado!

    I’m surprised to see your comment about Boulder having more distinct seasons, however; I feel like that aspect is the same in both cities.

    Anyway, the dry air, 300+ days of sunshine and outdoor activities make me forget I moved outside of Colorado sometimes!

    Thanks for your comment!

  10. gaius gracchus

    2 months ago

    Boulder has more and better climbing gyms and Bend has better air quality, maybe water quality, too.

    Boulder has separate bike/multi-use paths, but I don’t see any of that advertised for Bend — but I may be missing it online.

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