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5 reasons less snow makes this a great winter to visit Bend


Scenes from last year’s snowpocalypse in Bend.

This morning we woke to the news that Mt. Bachelor had six inches of new powder overnight, and it’s still snowing. Storms will keep blowing through the Pacific Northwest over the next week, bringing much-needed snow to Oregon’s ski areas.

Okay, so all that aside, it’s tough to miss the fact that winter of 2017-2018 has turned out much drier than anyone expected. After the crazy, snow-filled season Bend had last year, it’s been a shock for many of us. But even for a ski town like Bend, there are lots of upsides to having a lighter-than-normal snow year. Here are five of them.


Getting here got a whole lot easier

Last winter’s snowpocalypse was responsible for crushing a lot of Bend visitors’ vacation dreams. Flights were canceled and snow-packed roads forced many families to think twice about making the drive to Bend.

That hasn’t been an issue this year.

We couldn’t find parking last year, but had lots of spots to chill our beer.

The mountain passes have been blissfully clear, making for easy drives to Bend. Flights have been more reliable, too, with fewer weather-related delays and cancellations.


Where did all these parking spots come from?

When you get massive dumps of snow in short periods of time, you run out of places to put it. That’s what happened last year, and as the season progressed, we ran out of spots to stash those massive mounds of white stuff. Parking lots got smaller, and parking spaces shrank as curbside pileups grew.

This year it’s a whole lot easier to find a spot for your car in the Old Mill District and Downtown Bend. Ditto that for sidewalks and walkways, which haven’t required shopkeepers to work double overtime shoveling huge piles of powder. That means it’s easier than ever to access your favorite Bend restaurant or retail shop.


So much to do on dry land!

Bend has long been touted as one of those multi-sport destinations where you can ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Marmot recently included Bend in their roundup of 7 places in America that have mastered the art of 3 sports in one day, and that’s been especially true this winter.

A mountain bike outing with Cog Wild is a great way to get some non-snowy recreation this time of year.

Mountain bike trails are blessedly snow-free (though if you encounter muddy trails, please don’t ride on them or you’ll wreck them for future users). There’s been great riding at Matson and Horse Ridge lately, and you can always check for great info on trail conditions.

This time of year, there are countless areas to hike and climb without slipping on ice or snow. Heck, I’ve seen people out surfing in the Bend Whitewater Park (brrr!)

But for those folks journeying to Bend for skiing and snowboarding, you’ll find plenty more to do. Which leads me to my next point…


The slopes are still fab at Mt. Bachelor

Thanks to Mt. Bachelor’s higher elevation, the mountain has seen a lot more snow this year than its lower-elevation competitors. That makes all the difference in the world when it comes to lean snow years like this one.

Bluebird skies are common at Mt. Bachelor in less stormy seasons.

That said, there’s no question Mt. Bachelor has seen less snow this season than they did last year. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Storm-free skies bring an abundance of clear, bluebird days for skiing and boarding. The decrease in storms also means Mt. Bachelor can run the Summit lift more often, carrying winter enthusiasts all the way to the 9,000-foot peak of the mountain. That didn’t happen as often last year.

Another upside of having more dry, sunny days is that groomers can get out across more runs. The result? A veritable paradise for those who like to cruise the corduroy.

A low-snow year is a great time to try ice skating in Bend!

Oh, and since more Bend residents are opting to stay home and wait for powder days, visitors have the run of Mt. Bachelor’s slopes lately. There’s ample parking, and lift lines have been nice and short.


So much more to a winter vacation

Whether you’re a skier or not, you’ve gotta love how many other winter activities abound in Bend. With milder temperatures this year and fewer cancellations due to deep snow, you have access to Bend’s full range of winter fun.

Go ice skating at The Pavilion. Try a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours. Book a sled dog ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams.

Once you’ve had your fill of chilly activities, take advantage of clear skies and mild temps by walking between breweries on the Bend Ale Trail (no snowshoes required!) or strolling the grounds at the High Desert Museum without fretting about how many layers you’ll need to wear to get a glimpse of the otters.

The possibilities are endless, and it’s a great season for enjoying the best winter has to offer in Bend.


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