All About Roundabouts

It’s worth taking a round-about route for this view.

While Bendʼs many roundabouts often catch visiting drivers by surprise and lead to some tentative entries and exits, Bendites embrace them as gas-saving alternatives to traffic signals and four-way stops. And their artwork is always a popular topic of conversation.

Heading into town on Century Drive, itʼs not uncommon to encounter at least five roundabouts on your way. While their function is to aid traffic flow and increase safety, their form has become a staple of Bend culture. From the “Flaming Chicken” on 14th Street and Galveston to the Mt. Bachelor Compass on Century and Mt. Washington Dr., roundabout artwork has created several city landmarks.

One of my favorite pieces of roundabout art in Bend is the “Lodestar” on the hill at the intersection of Bond Street and Reed Market Road. If youʼre driving to the West side from the other side of town and you hit this roundabout in the evening, you can catch the sun setting over Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters. In this sublime lighting, you are treated with a spectacular view of the sparkling Deschutes River running through Farewell Bend Park.

The art that was chosen for this particular site is a rounded copper-colored sculpture, which frames each mountain as you circle it. Itʼs almost worth an extra lap around to take in the whole view. It is at this moment in my busy day that I can take a breath and gain a renewed sense of gratitude for the beautiful city I live in.

Roundabout art is featured as its own tour, just like the Bend Ale Trail. The Bend Visitors Center provides maps of the 20 roundabout sculptures in the city, and you can even win a prize if you answer all the trivia questions correctly. So when youʼre done exploring in the mountains for the day, feel free to explore the city… by roundabout.

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