Central Oregon is a mountain lover’s dream. No matter the season, you can expect constant adventure at your fingertips. But, make no mistake: Winter is not just for the thrill seekers. Luckily, Bend, Oregon has far more to offer in the chilly months than Mt. Bachelor, its world-renowned ski resort and backcountry mecca. If you don’t fancy zooming down mountains on planks, are out for the season, or just want some diverse fun in your world, read on to learn about Central Oregon’s best endorphin-boosting activities (without the skis!).
Fresh Air Fun | Outdoor Activities
TAKE A SNOWCAT ON ELK LAKE
Let the fun begin with a snowcat excursion at Elk Lake Resort. Grab your friends, and the resort will handle the rest, especially if you go for the snowcat and dinner package! From Dutchman Flat Sno-Park, you’ll head through snow-covered terrain along the Cascade Lakes Highway and use the included certificate for dinner and drinks at the lodge. After dinner, hop back on the snowcat for a peaceful ride back—or stay at one of the resort’s cozy cabins and cruise the trails all day long on its rentable snowmobiles.
STOMP AROUND IN SNOWSHOE
If you prefer stomping over sliding, check out the many ungroomed trails in your mountainous backyard and relax on a snowshoe walk. For an afternoon-to-evening option, take a snowshoe out to Suttle Lake, then grab a drink and dinner afterward at the Skip Bar in the Suttle Lodge. Stay overnight, and wake up to a gorgeous snowy sunrise.
Looking for an easy to moderate snowshoe option? Check out the Swampy Lakes Sno-Park. Open until May with minimal elevation and tons of loops totaling less than 2 miles, it’s excellent for beginners. Or, if intermediate, take a 4-mile adventure like the Porcupine Loop. With plenty of long stretches, advanced snowshoers will also be in heaven. Bird-watch, take in the surroundings, and get your fresh air on.
Want dog-friendly trails? Check out Kapka Sno-Park. And when you’re ready to hit the trails, get the inside scoop on all things snowshoeing in Central Oregon—and read on for winter tours in Bend and Central Oregon.
RIDE IN STYLE ON A SNOWMOBILE
Itching to cruise an open meadow? Having snow machine dreams? Get out into nature to shred the powder or take it easy on the trails with a snowmobile ride. No matter what vibe you’re going for, this versatile activity has it all! Central Oregon Rentals is great for beginners and experts alike, so take one for a spin in five hours, or explore the 10-hour or multi-day options, complete with a trailer to one of the region’s many sno-parks.
If you’re feeling a tour instead, Central Oregon Adventures offers customized snowmobile trips led by professional guides in 2-4 hour sessions. Learn more about tours, rentals, and more with our page on snowmobiling in Central Oregon.
SLED IN THE SNO-PARK
Fill that thermos with hot cocoa, grab your tube or saucer sled, and get ready to shred. Nothing fills you with a childlike wonder quite like flying down a hill on a toboggan! Dog-friendly and fun for all ages, Wanoga Sno-Park is a quick drive to the southwest of Bend, whether you’re seeking a gentle slope for a relaxing ride or a steep hill for a thrill. This one is particularly popular, so get there early for the best parking! (A Sno-Park permit is required, as well.)
ICE-SKATE AT THE PAVILION
Play hockey, try curling, or learn the art of ice skating with lessons. It’s all possible at The Pavilion in Bend. This centrally located facility has everything you could want for a romantic skate sesh or a full family evening out! The Pavilion is a large facility that offers a variety of activities. Its spacious interior and lights for night skating are top-notch, and there’s also a snack bar and skate rental, so you’ll have everything you need. Whether you’re an experienced skater or just learning the ropes, the Pavilion is perfect for a fun experience to remember.
Off-The-Cuff | Indoor Activities
When you want a break from all the sunshine and fresh air, Central Oregon is full of indoor activities to integrate into your trip, whether for weekend or longer stay. Check out the plethora of family-friendly activities and games below to enjoy winter in a new way.
GET YOUR PICKLEBALL ON
Pickleball is an easy-to-learn sport and a fun, low-impact way to stay active. A simple game that’s great for all ages and skill levels, it combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. Go for the improved balance, strength, and coordination benefits; stay for increased flexibility and socialization. Pickleball Zone is a brilliant spot to try it out for its variety and inclusive atmosphere. You may even meet tons of new friends in the process!
BOUNCE, SLIDE & SOAR
Have you ever tried dunking a basketball on a bouncy court? If not, you’re in for a treat. When you and your friends or family have some extra energy, consider a day at Mountain Air Bend. The facility features a variety of trampolines, an air court, and a toddler zone to get the adrenaline pumping.
Trampoline Zone and Adventure Park is another fantastic option, with tons of trampolines, dodgeball, a Ninja course, climbing walls, and a laser maze. (Don’t sleep on their party packages.) Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced jumper, Bend, Oregon’s trampoline adventure parks are sure to provide you with an unforgettable experience.
We bet it’s been a while since you’ve experienced the excitement of go-kart racing. At K1 Speed in Bend, you’ll find a professionally designed track with plenty of turns, curves, and straightaways for a thrilling ride. With electric karts and powerful torque, you could even get up to 45 mph! The karts are adjustable for different heights, so everyone can enjoy the speed. The track is open seven days a week and hosts special events and leagues for experienced racers. K1 Speed also features an arcade with a variety of games, food options, and a full-service bar. Whether you’re a racing enthusiast or just looking for nostalgic entertainment, K1 Speed in Bend is the place to get your endorphins.
Photo courtesy DejaPhoto.com
HIT THE TARGET
Embrace your inner lumberjack, get the tension out, and learn about Bend’s history; add a cold beer and you’re all set. Unofficial Logging Co. is right on the outskirts of downtown Bend and offers a safe, fun atmosphere for every group. Ax throwing has become increasingly popular among locals and visitors alike, and for good reason. Battle it out with your friends, and try Unofficial Logging Co.’s variety of lanes and targets. The constantly rotating craft beer and great food are a bonus. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone! (And if you need coffee to perk up beforehand, head to Lone Pine Coffee Roasters right next door.)
GO TO A BOUTIQUE THEATER
Did you know Bend has an eclectic variety of theaters? Outside of the traditional theater experience, there’s Tower Theatre, with an incredible variety of speakers, concerts, film screenings, and events. If you’re looking for an independently curated experience, check out Tin Pan Theater in the alley across from Bonta Gelato; it’s a single-screen, kid-friendly art-house theater with beer, an old-school snack bar, and a cool lineup of unique films. Learn more about the screens and stages in Central Oregon.
No matter what the activity, Central Oregon in the winter months is full of fun. There are plenty of ways to get your endorphins with friends and family without skis or snowboards. Come see for yourself!
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
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Our Favorite Sledding Hills in and Near Sunriver
The town of Sunriver sits on the edge of Deschutes National Forest, surrounded by tall Ponderosa pines and, as the name suggests, plenty of sunshine and the meandering Deschutes River. However, Sunriver isn’t just a great spot to spend sunny days on the water. The town gets an annual 50 inches of snow, about 20 inches more than the nearby city of Bend receives, on average. Central Oregon weather can vary heavily within relatively small areas, and Sunriver is a huge benefactor of this. As a result, snow in Sunriver falls fast and hard, and leads to the perfect opportunities to break out winter sleds. Whether it’s an old school tobogan or something a bit more modern, be sure to visit Sunriver and the surrounding area for plenty of sledding options.