There’s a couple of ways to look at the annual winter closure of Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: You can see it as cutting off your recreational access beyond the gate until the snow melts in the spring.
Or – and this viewpoint is recommended – you can see it as as a chance for a new experience in nature and explore some of the most breathtaking backcountry the state of Oregon has to offer.
And there’s no better way to do that than to make plans to visit Elk Lake Resort for your family’s next winter adventure.
Remember – there’s no “road” to Elk Lake in the winter because the department of transportation doesn’t maintain the highway when it snows. Still, there’s several ways to get there and never has the old saying “getting there is half the fun” been more true.
The easiest way is to have one of the resort’s fleet of Suburbans-turned-snowcats pick you up from Dutchman Flat Sno-Park directly across from Mt. Bachelor or Mt. Bachelor’s parking lot on Friday afternoon and bring you back on Sunday. The most peaceful (albeit sweatiest) way is to Nordic ski to the lodge from Dutchman. The most thrilling way is to ride your own snowmobile in on the 11-mile groomed trail from Dutchman Flat. It’s not often in life you’re able to spend the weekend in a spot inaccessible by cars.
Central Oregon Adventures also rents snowmobiles and sets up shop at the Wanoga Sno-Park, located on Cascade Lakes Highway about 15 miles from Bend. You can rent for a couple hours, four hours or all day. The four-hour rental window gives you plenty of time to do some exploring and stop by the Elk Lake Resort lodge for some food.
The historic lodge is a perfect spot to warm up during a day in the backcountry. The menu has locally sourced, Pacific Northwest inspired meals including elk chili, burgers, mac and cheese and more. And, of course, you can cozy up to the fire with a hot cocoa or catch some football with one of the numerous Central Oregon craft brews on tap.
But for most folks, a few hours isn’t long enough at Elk Lake. For the hearty souls looking to spend the weekend in the winter wilderness, the resort offers deluxe homes, rustic cabins or camping cabins to extend your stay. Some of the cabins include full kitchens and are the perfect spot for large groups to hang together for the weekend.
What you do during your time at Elk Lake is up to you. Rent a snowmobile from the resort and head out into the powder. Take a hike with some snowshoes. Or venture out on the nordic skis you rented for the weekend from Mt. Bachelor. (The resort does not have ski rentals, so be prepared.)
Or, if you want to stay snuggled up inside your cabin all weekend, that’s perfectly fine too.
So find a way to get to Elk Lake this winter and get away from it all.
That road will be back open in no time.
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