Enjoy Your Last Moments of Winter Wonder in Central Oregon
Signs of spring are slowly arriving in Central Oregon: The sun sets behind a snow-covered Mount Bachelor a little later each day, families are plotting spring break adventures, and colorful wildflowers are beginning to bloom along some of the region’s best-loved hiking trails.
So while the calendar might officially flip to spring this month, there’s plenty of winter remaining in Central Oregon. If you’re looking for one more blast of winter fun – whether from atop a snowmobile, at an ice rink, or in the saddle of a fat bike – here’s how to make the most of what’s left of this magical season in Central Oregon.
Every winter, families flock to the Village at Sunriver for its famous ice skating rink, and it’s easy to see why: The open-air rink means you’ll enjoy plenty of fresh air, the long-standing tradition has brought together generations of families over the years, and an upgraded sound system keeps the good vibes going all day long.
The rink is generally open late November through early April, and ice skates are available for rent in a variety of sizes – from toddlers to adults. Keep in mind that reservations are required in 2021 and can be made up to 14 days in advance. Each reservation covers a two-hour session, and a waitlist is available on The Village at Sunriver’s website in case your desired session is filled to capacity (50 skaters per session).
The rink is open 12-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday – with occasional closures throughout the day to maintain the ice.
Since 1993, Wanderlust Tours has introduced countless visitors to the wonders of Central Oregon – its legendary beer scene, its many caves, its forested backcountry, and more.
Even in winter, Wanderlust hosts daily tours that invite visitors to strap on a pair of snowshoes and head into the region’s quiet, snow-covered backcountry for all manner of unique experiences – from moonlit tours that show off our region’s starry night skies to trips that include a stop around a raging bonfire. Some even include a taste of Central Oregon’s acclaimed beer for a dose of winter cheer.
Learn more about Wanderlust Tours and their wide variety of winter outings.
Mount Bachelor, Dutchman Flat, and other snow-packed destinations might draw skiers and snowboarders en masse, but the high desert of Central Oregon offers plenty of hiking trails that remain accessible (and snow-free) year-round; coupled with cool temperatures and sunny days, those trails are an especially delightful treat in winter.
One fun hike is the Tam-a-láu Trail at The Cove Palisades State Park, just 20 minutes southwest of Madras. The park is best known for its proximity to water – its reservoir, Lake Billy Chinook, sits at the confluence of the Crooked, Deschutes, and Metolius rivers, after all – but the Tam-a-láu Trail delights with sweeping views of the surrounding river canyons, Cascade peaks, and the region’s expansive farmland.
In all, the Tam-a-láu Trail measures seven miles round-trip, with about 650 feet of elevation gain – almost all of it coming on the short, but steady ascent up a dusty plateau. The exposed nature of the plateau, covered in juniper and sagebrush, is best enjoyed in winter (when cooler weather and pleasant conditions prevail).
Cycling has long been the domain of spring and summer outings—but fat biking has changed all that, and is a growing phenomenon throughout Central Oregon.
In short, fat bikes look like mountain bikes – but with wider tires (hence the “fat bike” moniker) that afford extra grip on snowy surfaces. So even if your favorite trails are snowed over, they aren’t necessarily inaccessible until spring; play it safe, though, by riding only on groomed and packed trails.
The family-friendly Wanoga Sno-Park has earned acclaim for its family-friendly sledding and tubing opportunities, but riders appreciate the roughly nine miles of trails that afford views of nearby peaks and pass through peaceful forests. And in Bend, the popular Phil’s Trail network of mountain bike trails welcomes riders all year long – and is a popular, easy-to-reach outing soon after snowfall.
Every winter, the Cascade Range at the western edge of Central Oregon turns into a winter wonderland when hundreds of miles of trails take snowmobile riders through wide-open meadows, pristine forests, and to epic viewpoints.
So if you want to find some solitude and enjoy views unavailable anywhere else in the region, consider a small-group snowmobile tour with Central Oregon Adventures.
Each trip is limited to six machines and is tailored to the abilities and experience levels of the riders taking part, so no two trips are ever exactly alike. Along the way, each two- to four-hour tour stops at several snow play areas for a thrill-seeking experience. The two-hour trip covers the terrain around Mount Bachelor, while the four-hour trip includes a stop for food or hot cocoa at the remote Elk Lake Resort.