Central Oregon Winter Adventures
The model of a complete snowsports resort, Mt. Bachelor offers 360-degree lift-served groomed skiing and riding from its volcanic summit. It’s been named the “Most Underrated Ski Resort” in the Pacific Northwest, and that’s OK by us. That means instead of packed slopes, all you get is packed powder.
With tons of groomers, several terrain parks, steeps, bowls and enough backcountry to fill your day, Mt. Bachelor has something for snowriders of every skill level.
Like your trails groomed for skating and classic cross-country skiing? Head to the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center, Hoodoo Ski Area or the Virginia Meissner Sno-Park. If, however, you prefer un-groomed skiing on marked trails, then try one of the region’s 14 Sno-Parks. If making your own path through the forest is the order of the day, almost any place that has snow in the Deschutes National Forest is there waiting to be tracked.
Superb and among the most accessible in the country, backcountry skiing is just minutes north and northwest of the Mt. Bachelor Ski Area. A slightly longer haul is required to get into some virginal backcountry runs in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, the Three Sisters volcanic peaks from nearby Sisters and Pine Mountain east of Bend.
Thanks to the efforts of regional snowmobiling clubs, there are literally hundreds of miles of groomed and well-marked trails to “sled” throughout Central Oregon. Popular take-off spots include the snowmobile parking and shelter area at Wanoga Sno-Park on Century Drive near Bend, Edison Butte on the road between Mt. Bachelor and Sunriver, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument at La Pine and nearby Hoodoo Ski Area outside of Sisters. Another local favorite is to head from Dutchman Flat along Century Drive and out to Elk Lake Resort. Don’t have your own sled? You can rent one for a couple of hours or the whole day from Central Oregon Adventures – they set up shop at Wanoga all winter long.
Wherever there’s snow cover in Central Oregon, there’s an opportunity to snowshoe. Try marked snowshoe routes at Virginia Meissner and Swampy Lakes Sno-Parks off of Century Drive just outside of Bend. These are two main areas where snowshoers can find trails, warming huts and solace in the Deschutes National Forest.
The place to be for family sledding fun is Wanoga Sno-Park off Century Drive on the way to Mt. Bachelor. There’s ample parking and plenty of room to sled, toboggan or inner tube. Bring your own hot chocolate or buy it from the snack trailer in the parking lot. Head a little farther up to Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast tubing park and snag a day-pass for an afternoon of zooming down the mountain on innertubes. In Sunriver, SHARC has its own snow-tubing hill, and Hoodoo’s AutoBahn Tubing park is one of the largest snow-tubing parks in entire West!
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!
Just like paddleboarding has taken over Central Oregon during the summer, Fat Biking is the new winter craze that has avid mountain bikers extending their riding seasons throughout the snowfall. Picture a rigid mountain bike on steroids – with blown-up tires that make it easy to pedal through and over the snow. Several Fat Bike-specific trails are available in the Wanoga Sno-Park area but other popular spots are near the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park, Todd Lake and along the snow-covered Cascade Lakes Highway. Since you’re probably not traveling with your own Fat Bike, local shops like Hutch’s, Pine Mountain Sports, Sunriver Sports and The Hub Cyclery have fleets for you to rent.
Don’t miss The Village in Sunriver or Seventh Mountain Resort near Bend on the way to Mt. Bachelor. Both offer an outdoor winter skating experience that’s fun for your whole family. Drinks are rink-side for your apres ski. Or visit the new 4,000-square-foot ice skating rink in downtown Redmond.
Central Oregon is home to Prineville, the unofficial “Rock Hound Capital of the United States,” where precious gemstones lie just beneath the land’s surface, waiting to be uncovered. Discover a piece of Oregon’s geologic past at one of many public recreational collection areas. Get the Rockhound Map from the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce (see directory, page 120) for a full-color guide to your adventure, with pictures of what you can find at each site, historic and geologic information, and lots of tips, such as GPS coordinates.