5 things to do before the snow flies in Bend, Oregon
Pretty as it was, I’m not ready to bust out my puffy coat and winter boots just yet. Here are five things we all need to enjoy before snow starts falling hard in Bend:
Roll in the leaves
The leaves started turning in early October this year, which should mean we’ve got a couple more weeks to admire the bright fall colors around Bend.
Drake park—the 13 acre crown jewel of Downtown Bend—is a glorious place to admire all the leafy glory reflected in Mirror Pond. If the mood strikes you, make a crunchy pile of them and jump into it. Just downstream, Pioneer Park is a smaller riverfront locale that offers a good array of trees sporting bright gold and yellow adornments. Either spot is great for a fall picnic or stroll.
A drive along Mount Washington Drive will give you a showy look at the endless rows of leafy colors lining both sides of the street. Watch out for cyclists (or better yet, grab your bike and join them!)
You’ll also get some lovely views when the aspens start changing color in Shevlin Park.
For a bigger roundup of where to see fall colors in Bend, check out this blog post.
Hike, bike, or drive at high elevations
When Old Man Winter blankets the Bend area with white stuff, a number of roads shut down for the season. The Cascade Lakes Highway beyond Mt. Bachelor closes to through traffic around late-October or early-November, and doesn’t re-open until May. If you’re itching to hike around Devil’s Lake, enjoy a bit of fishing in Hosmer Lake, or do some horseback riding around Todd Lake, now’s the time to get up there.
The road up to Paulina Peak in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument shuts down when the snow starts flying, so you should have a couple more weeks to drive to the top for killer views from 8,000 feet.
As someone who loves hiking Pilot Butte without having to watch for cars, I’ll admit I celebrate in late-fall when they close the road to motorized traffic. But if hiking isn’t an option for you for whatever reason, you’ll want to jump in the rig and zoom up there before the gates close for the season.
If you’re a cyclist whose bucket list includes a ride along the Old McKenzie Pass Highway (OR 242) you’d better hop to it quickly. That bad boy will be covered with snow before you know it, and they won’t plow it to re-open until late-spring.
Make the most of evening daylight
Daylight Savings Time is slated for November 1 in 2014, at which point we’ll all “fall back” by an hour. That means darkness will come earlier, putting a seasonal end to some of the evening recreation we’ve been enjoying.
To make the most of the daylight we’ve got left, I’ve been hustling straight to the Deschutes River every day after work this week to sneak in an hour of standup paddleboarding. If that’s your sport of choice, you’ve still got a few evenings left to get out there and splash around.
Evening is also a great time to walk around Downtown Bend or the Old Mill District to enjoy the fall colors en route to your favorite Bend restaurant.
Stuff your face outside
Bend’s warm weather is dwindling rapidly, and you could probably count on one hand the number of outdoor dinners or lunches you can bank on for 2014. Still, there are plenty of spots where outdoor dining (or at least outdoor sipping) stretches into late-fall, thanks to outdoor fire pits.
The ones on the patio at McMenamins Old St. Francis are some of my favorites, and I love snuggling up by the fire with a pint of Ruby and some Cajun tots. Crux Fermentation Project also has a killer fire pit, and the added bonus of the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ll ever eat. Either spot makes a great place to cozy up with a pint and earn a stamp in your Bend Ale trail passport.
For a roundup of other Bend hotspots with fire pits (no pun intended) check out this post.
And if a warm fall afternoon leaves you craving an al fresco lunch, go here to peruse the lineup of Bend restaurants with outdoor patios. Many of them are still open for a few more weeks, especially if the warm weather holds.
Canoe or kayak while you can
Once the snow starts flying, the folks at Wanderlust Tours will be booking snowshoe tours faster than you can shake a snowflake off a spatula. But before that happens, it’s a great time to head out with them for one of their incredible canoe trips on the high Cascade lakes. The price includes all your gear and transportation, plus amazing insights from a talented naturalist guide.
Another option for paddle-sports is Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe. While most of their regularly scheduled classes and tours have ended for the season, they’re still offering plenty of private lessons, plus gear rental for those who want to go it alone. If you end up loving your kayak or paddleboard so much you want to strap one to your car and haul it home, now’s a great time to score a killer deal by purchasing some of their demo gear.