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In Bend, Oregon, A Drive For Adventure

A car that matches the spontaneity of adventure with creature comforts you wont find in the woods?

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Megan Snedden; Tamolitch Blue Pool / Via

Along the route to Sparks Lake, I caught a car’s Oregon plates in my rearview mirror as the driver pulled up beside us in the snow and rolled down his window.

“Are you guys alright?” he demanded, an alarm in his voice. He looked worried to see a couple girls parked in the middle of a snow bank during a snowstorm. Meanwhile, we sat there, cameras in hand with our seat warmers on full blast unaware of the precarious situation it looked we were in.

“Oh yes,” I called back to the concerned Oregonian. “We’re from Los Angeles.”

Megan Snedden; Route to Sparks Lake / Via

I thought that explanation might be a reasonable short hand for why we looked so wild-eyed and excited in this snow-covered environment (it's hardly anything other than sunny in Southern California). When he drove away shaking his head, I knew we looked crazy.

I’d come to Bend, Oregon to put GMC’s 2018 Terrain Denali to the test, and test it we did. The compact SUV comes equipped with all the creature comforts of a luxury vehicle — a sprawling moon roof, hand warmers inside the steering wheel, Apple CarPlay. Yet, it’s poised for adventure with features like all-wheel drive, dual zone automatic climate control, and enough space inside to fit either a surfboard, or all the camping gear in your garage. The fold-flat front and rear seats definitely make that easy.

Jake Chamseddine; Deschutes River / Via

Driving through snow — and through pouring rain, and through the dirt, and along narrow winding mountain roads — is something this luxury SUV was made for; just don’t act surprised when its performance captures the attention of locals. You’ll likely also get some looks when you slam on your brakes then turn on a dime when you suddenly drive past a clearing in the trees and pull off the road to take in a breathtaking sunset.

Megan Snedden; Skeleton Caves / Via

Bend, Oregon is the perfect place to put anything to the test: your car, your sense of adventure, your tolerance for cold. Temperamental weather conditions mean it could be sunny and clear at your hotel, then 20-minutes’ drive away up into the mountains, it could be snowing, which is what happened on the way to Sparks Lake. Climatic variance only makes the adventure more exciting as does driving the appropriate vehicle to handle anything.

Megan Snedden; Bend Oregon / Via

If you find yourself in Bend, make sure you explore these sights:

Tamolitch Blue Pool via McKenzie River Trail: a natural upwelling of the McKenzie River, this crystal water body will mesmerize you, after a two-mile out-and-back hike to reach its shores.

Skeleton Caves: a lava tube within Deschutes National Forest, the Skeleton Cave is the best place to experience pure darkness … if you’re bold enough to turn off your headlamp.

Deschutes River: an offshoot of the Colombia River, the Deschutes makes the perfect scenic backdrop for a picnic.

The Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway: cruise this picturesque mountain road en route to Sparks Lake and enjoy iconic Oregon scenery.

This time of year, seat heaters definitely cut through the cold, but you’ll want to make sure you prepare for anything. Besides, the thrill of not knowing what may arise along the road ahead makes the drive that much more exciting.

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