Off the Slopes: Central Oregon Winter Fun for the “Not-So-Adventurous”
It’s true skiing and snowboarding are a big draw to Central Oregon in the winter. With Mt. Bachelor (a top 25 ski resort in the world) and Hoodoo Ski area (one of only a couple night-skiing options in Oregon) you can’t go wrong hitting the slopes.
But everyone isn’t into shredding the hill or catching big air. (Lessons are available at both ski areas, by the way.) Still, they still want to find a way to experience the Central Oregon outdoors – and there are PLENTY of ways to do that.
In Central Oregon, our summer hiking trails in the winter turn into beautiful backcountry snowshoe trails that offer unmatched views of the Cascades. You can rent snowshoes at several locations around the region including Powder House Ski and Snowboards, Pine Mountain Sports in Bend and Sunriver Sports. One of the best ways to explore the backcountry is taking advantage of the free guided tours offered at Mt. Bachelor.
One of the most popular snowshoe trails is just across from Mt. Bachelor at the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park. The Tumalo Mountain hike offers a truly spectacular view of Mt. Bachelor in the distance. Also along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway you’ll find snowshoeing at the Virginia Meissner and Swampy Lakes sno-park areas. Here’s some more information on the sno-parks.
Come winter, there’s nothing better than grabbing an old plastic sled, dragging it to the top of the closest hill and zooming to the bottom leaving common sense, your stocking cap and maybe your eyeglasses behind the path you just blazed. Central Oregon’s best sledding is found at the Wanoga Sno-Park just off the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway (the road to Mt. Bachelor.) It’s a big hill with a warming hut and bathrooms, a food truck is usually in the parking lot and you can rent tubes there for the day. Keep going up the road and you’ll find the Mt. Bachelor Snowblast Tubing Park. Here, the ski area rents inflatable tubes for two-hour or all-day sessions. Hoodoo, the ski area near Sisters, offers the Autobahn Tubing Park and a sledding hill as well.
Maybe you dreamed of becoming Dorothy Hamill one day, pulling triple axels like nobody’s business. Or maybe you saw yourself as the next Wayne Gretzky, scoring goal after goal after goal as your teammates surrounded you on the ice. Either way, you can relieve those dreams at one of the fun ice skating rinks in Central Oregon. Seventh Mountain Resort is just outside of Bend on the road to Mt. Bachelor. The rink is open air and there’s a fire pit and concession stand nearby to buy cocoa and adult beverages. The Village at Sunriver’s skating rink is also outside, but it’s covered to shelter you from all of the elements. And in Redmond, the new downtown skating rink is a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike. And just in time for the holidays, Bend Parks and Rec will open the region’s first full-size ice rink at the new Pavilion near downtown. Here’s more info on all the skating rinks.
Ok, let’s face it: Some of you would much rather sit and watch the snow fly outside while sitting by the fire inside. Luckily there’s some great places for you to grab a drink while your friends or family are tearing up the slopes. You can’t go wrong with any of the breweries – including Deschutes, where there’s a roaring fire near the bar. Cascade Lakes is the closest brewpub to the mountain and they have a nice little fireplace as well. Other spots to belly up with a beer include Three Creeks Brewery in Sisters and Sunriver Brewing Co. (Local tip: Hit up the lounge at The Pine Tavern in Downtown Bend. Order a Jubelale and scones, sit back and soak in the season.)
Regularly scheduled dog sled tours led by qualified guides depart and return to Mt. Bachelor ski area every day when the resort is open for business. Trail of Dreams, owned by an Iditarod-competing family with their athletic dogs, take guests into parts of the forest many people never get to see. What an amazing way to experience the Central Oregon winter wonderland!