It’s officially been spring for more than a month now, but those of us in Bend know the new season is seldom ushered in by a fanfare of flowers and warm weather.
Our little high desert mountain town sees winter temps well into May, and most of us don’t put away our snow shovels until late in the month.
That said, fans of winter are running out of time to seize the final moments of wintertime fun in Bend. Here are 5 things you should jump on while you still can.
Carve those final turns
While a lot of other ski resorts are winding down for the season, Mt. Bachelor still has plenty of season ahead of it. Bend’s beloved ski hill has one of the longest ski seasons in the nation, lasting all the way through Memorial Weekend.
Their popular Springtacular Season Pass is a great way to score springtime skiing at a killer discount, and a good way to access the coveted springtime corn snow local skiers crave.
One last snowball fight, one final snowman
So maybe you’re not into any sort of outdoor winter sport. Maybe you don’t even like snow all that much.
*quietly raises hand*
But the fact is that you’re not going to see the white stuff for a few months, so you may as well bid it farewell. Why not choose a nostalgic form of childhood snow play as a way to usher out the last of winter?
Stage a snowball fight with the kids. Build a snowman (or snowwoman) with your buddies. Lie down on a field of rapidly dwindling snow and make snow angels with your sweetie.
Higher-elevation spots like Dutchman Flat and areas around Mt. Bachelor are most likely to hold onto their snowfall later than the others, so head there first to savor the last bits of winter.
Soak up the last of winter by freezing your butt off
Hey, I get it—some people like the cold.
If you’re one of them, now is the perfect time to squeeze in a camping trip. Temps are still dipping low enough at night that you’ll get nice and shivery (though not miserably so—spring camping is delightful with the right equipment).
Bonus: Camping is ideal this time of year because campgrounds aren’t packed the way they’ll be at the height of summer. The first-come-first-served system works beautifully in spring and you won’t have to contend with the reservation system that starts around Memorial Weekend.
Privacy, solitude, a cozy fire, sleeping bag snuggles….aren’t these the reasons we camp in the first place?
The best of winter brews and menus
In chillier months, many Bend restaurants build their menus around comfort foods designed to warm your belly. Meatloaf, pot roast, stews, and other heartier fare are popular main dishes, with seasonal produce like root veggies rounding out the offerings.
That starts to change in spring and summer when lighter cuisine is more in fashion, and farm-fresh seasonal produce is at the top of everyone’s menu. If you’re a fan of heavier dishes, now’s a good time to make some hearty dining memories.
The same holds true for Bend’s beer scene. While seasonal porters and stouts are more popular in chilly months, spring and summer bring menus packed with pilsners, lagers, and my personal fave, the gose. If you have a taste for the heavier stuff, hit the Bend Ale Trail now to swill those last sips.
Have the road to yourself
Many of Central Oregon’s popular roadways close to vehicular traffic in the winter, making them the sole domain of foot-powered traffic like hikers, snowshoers, and skiers.
But many of them have already started to re-open to cars, including the road up Pilot Butte and the road to Tumalo Falls. If you’re looking for one last hurrah on roadways not open to motorized vehicles, here are a few dates to keep in mind:
- May 14, 2018 is the tentative open date for both the Cascade Lakes Highway and Paulina Lake Road.
- Lava Lands Visitor Center, Lava Butte, and Lava River Cave all open May 3, 2018, but they’ll be operating on limited hours until May 24 (in other words, it’s a good window of time to enjoy some solitude out there).
- The road to Newberry National Volcanic Monument’s Newberry Caldera is tentatively set to open to motorized vehicles the weekend of May 12.
- The McKenzie Highway (OR 242) typically opens to motorized vehicles the third Monday in June, so cyclists often seize the opportunity to have the roadway to themselves before that.
Keep in mind that hiking or biking on muddy trails is super uncool, and can damage the trails for the rest of the season. For more info on that, check out our Visit Like a Local page.