Central Oregon is a paradise for anyone who loves winter sports, but even if you don’t, there are winter activities you’re sure to enjoy. You can go into the mountains for adventures in the deep, fresh-fallen snow, or stay in city for more comfortable winter outings. Either way, if you find yourself in Central Oregon during winter, here are some great activities you can try.
Featured Image – Skiing in Central Oregon
Central Oregon has plenty of places for ski enthusiasts. Mt. Bachelor is the biggest local ski spot, with 71 runs ranging from super easy to double black diamonds. With awesome powder and a range of services, from excellent childcare to guides who can show you around the mountain, it consistently ranks among the best ski resorts in the country. For some variety, you can also go to the Hoodoo Ski Area, which was the first ski area in Central Oregon.
For backcountry skiers, check out Tumalo Mountain, Ball Butte, and Tam McArthur Rim, after skiing Mt. Bachelor’s Cinder Cone. Cross-country skiers can go to Mt. Bachelor, too, or stop at one of the sno-parks on the way. One popular choice is Virginia Meissner, managed by Meissner Nordic. Or, if you want to bring your dog along, you can go to the Wanoga Snow Play area for a 2-mile, dog-friendly ski trail.
Central Oregon has dozens of incredible trails for snowshoeing. You can rent equipment and buy maps in town, then head out into the peaceful winter wilderness by yourself or with friends. Good areas for snowshoeing include the Ochoco Mountains, the Willamette National Forest, Crater Lake National Park, and the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Prefer having a guide? Check out Wanderlust Tours, an ecotourism company based in Bend. They can bring you on a memorable snowshoeing adventure, from a starlit walk with hot cocoa to a New Year’s bonfire with champagne.
Winter in Central Oregon
Ice skating is a simple way to have fun in winter with minimal preparation. You bring small children along during the day, or go skating in the evening with wine and a date. Seventh Mountain Resort, The Village at Sunriver, and The Pavilion in Bend all have excellent ice rinks worth visiting.
Ever wondered what it feels like to ride on a dog sled? You can find out by taking a trip with the Oregon Trail of Dreams, run by a father-daughter team. Both are experienced mushers that have competed in the Iditarod, so you’ll glide through the forest in safe hands.
If you love snowmobiling, Central Oregon is one of the best places in the Northwest to be. Mt. Bachelor and Paulina Lake Lodge both have extensive trail systems, or you can take the popular groomed trail from Dutchman Flat to Elk Lake Resort. You can rent snowmobiles or take a tour with Central Oregon Adventures to visit all the best views and play areas without getting lost.
Sleigh rides are a classic holiday experience, but they’re a good activity for children and couples during the rest of winter, too. Sunriver Resort offers one-horse open sleigh rides along the Deschutes River and through a forest, giving you beautiful views of the Sunriver Meadow and Mt. Bachelor. They have a lovely Victorian sleigh, too, complete with bells and cozy blankets.
For an urban sleigh ride, you can take a trip with Cowboy Carriage in Downtown Bend. You can reserve half hour or hour-long rides, or go on a spontaneous 15-20 minute ride through the city. If you happen to be in Bend during the holidays, you can try to get a complimentary carriage ride in the Old Mill District, with donations and tips benefiting Kid’s Center.
20 Acres in Central Oregon
Sledding / Tubing
You can find great places to go sledding and tubing all over Central Oregon, since there are hills and piles of snow everywhere. But, if you want to maximize your time on the sled, you can go to the Snowblast Tubing Park on Mt. Bachelor, where lifts will pull you quickly up the slope. The SHARC in Sunriver also has an established tubing hill, where it’s possible to ride down the hill even when there’s no snow. Finally, check out the Wanoga Sno-Park, an inexpensive and popular sledding area among locals.
Sitting in a Hot Tub
After spending the morning out in the snow, you can relax in a hot tub at a pool or resort in the area. For example, if you went tubing at the SHARC, you can slip into their hot tub right afterwards and enjoy their snack bar. Juniper Swim & Fitness has a sauna and steam room, too, along with exercise facilities and fitness classes (in case you still have leftover energy). One place that’s worth visiting for an entire day is the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Spa on the Warm Spring Reservation. They have a hot springs mineral pool and offer soothing mineral soaks and massages, so you can enjoy an active day outside without any remaining muscle aches.
Of course, if you lived in Central Oregon, you could just sit in your own hot tub or sauna every day. Your home would be your resort and the perfect ending to each winter adventure.
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