by Joshua Savage
During the summer months the population of Bend, Oregon, surges with people exploring the outdoors. In winter, the snowcapped Cascade peaks and the enthusiastic vibe in town are just as inviting.
For snow lovers Mount Bachelor has over 4,000 acres to discover. Skiers and snowboarders can hone their skills on 101 runs. Those who don’t ski can enjoy snow tubing, snowshoeing or even dog sledding.
Speaking of sledding, the many sno-parks near Bend are an exciting, inexpensive way to play in the white powder. Grab a sled from a local shop and visit Wanoga Sno-Park. Flying down the steep hills brings out the kid in anyone!
Snow in the higher elevations limits hiking, but many trails can still be traversed. With few crowds and less heat, hikes like Misery Ridge and the Rim Trail at Smith Rock State Park are ideal this time of year.
The Deschutes River Trail follows the river through Bend. One minute the mighty rapids beat against giant boulders, and the next the calm waters flow lazily through the Old Mill District where you might want to stop and shop or grab a bite.
Acres of open space, striking views, and proximity to downtown make Drake Park a year-round favorite. Take a relaxing stroll and snap photos of geese intrepidly playing in the chilly waters of Mirror Pond. If one location captures the spirit of Bend without leaving the city limits, Drake Park is it.
Depending on lodging preferences, a resort like Brasada Ranch offers every imaginable amenity, and you may decide never to leave. If opting to stay in Bend, the Oxford Hotel sits in the heart of downtown while the Riverhouse on the Deschutes boasts amazing views of the rolling river.
First-rate nourishment is absolutely necessary. Trying the delicious food and drinks from a Bend brewery is a satisfying way to pass the time, plus you get rewarded! Grab a Bend Ale Trail passport and get it stamped in at least 5 of the city’s 22 breweries to receive a free beer.
Though beer reigns as Bend’s favorite drink, nothing warms the bones during winter like a specialty cup of hot chocolate from McKay’s Cottage or Sparrow Bakery. Add Bend's famous ocean roll to the mix and you are set.
Find every imaginable type of cuisine at the many food truck lots. Most of them, like On Tap and The Lot crank up the outdoor heaters, ignite large fire pits, or have indoor seating to keep you warm.
And if the cold is absolutely too much, shelter inside the High Desert Museum. Here, the story of Central Oregon’s climate is told through the multiple exhibits. Family-friendly and educational, the museum is a bonus for any Bend itinerary.
Get more information on a winter getaway to Bend and Central Oregon at visitcentraloregon.com.