Ahhh…spring. It’s officially here, but it doesn’t look much like it does in other parts of the state.
This morning I stood and watched fat, fluffy snowflakes settle on the crocuses wiggling up through my frosty lawn. By afternoon, I’ll leash the dogs and head for the Badlands where I will almost certainly encounter snow-free trails and plenty of desert dwelling spring blooms.
Spring is the time of year to make your vacation plans do double-duty, bringing you the best of warm-weather and cold-weather recreation. Here are 5 ways to do it.
Ski in the morning, golf in the afternoon
Ski-to-tee is a unique phenomenon made possible by Mt. Bachelor’s killer spring skiing conditions (not to mention great deals on spring passes) and the fact that Central Oregon boasts more than two-dozen golf courses. Those courses stay nice and dry and protected, thanks to the shield of the Cascade Mountains, making Bend the perfect spot to ski and golf all in one day.
Spring skiing at Mt. Bachelor conjures images of short sleeves and bluebird skies as you swoop down the slopes through fields of fresh powder. Cap off your morning with a bloody Mary in the Sun Bar, which just might have the umbrella down if it’s a sunny day.
After that, drive 20 minutes down the hill and head for the sprawling greens fringed by heart-stopping mountain views at your favorite Bend golf course. Don’t forget to schedule a tee time in advance, since the ski-to-tee phenomenon is a popular one this time of year!
Fat bike in snow, then surrey bike by the river
Bend boasts a million fun ways to kick your pedal power into gear, from road cycling to cyclocross to mountain biking and more.
This time of year, embrace two biking extremes by kicking off your day renting a fat bike and pedaling miles of snow-covered trails surrounding Bend. Ask your rental shop for a trail map and tips on where to go.
Once you’ve checked that off your bucket list, head for the Old Mill District for a leisurely pedal with the fan-damily beside the meandering Deschutes River. Wheel Fun Rentals rents a huge variety of pedal-powered options, but my personal fave with the fam is a four-seater surrey bike.
Pedal along the river watching geese and ducks and the occasional brave paddler while you scope out restaurants and pick one that piques your interest. Afterward, you’ll wander the shops and maybe catch a movie at Regal Cinemas.
Try some fancy footwork on ice, then the hiking trails
Work those feet in two wonderfully opposite ways by planning a day that’s part plod, part slippin-and-slidin’.
You can rent ice skates other essentials at The Pavilion, Bend’s only NHL-sized ice rink. It also boasts amenities like a viewing room, a fireplace, and full-service concessions. Twirl on the ice ‘til you’re dizzy, maybe pausing from time to time to toast your toes by the outdoor fire pit.
Once you’ve had your fill of ice dancing, unlace the skates and pull on your hiking boots to hit some scenic Central Oregon hiking trails.
Pilot Butte State Park is a nice in-town option with plenty of killer views from the top, or go for something splashier with a visit to Steelhead Falls or the Deschutes River Trail.
For more winter hiking ideas (and let’s face it, it’s still winter here, even when it’s spring!) check out this blog post.
Scope out snowflakes, then wildflowers
If you’re very lucky, your Bend spring break will include at least one burst of snow flurries offering the chance to catch fresh-fallen flakes on your tongue.
If that doesn’t happen, you can still cruise up to one of Bend’s amazing Sno-Parks for a good ol’ fashioned snowball fight with the fam.
Mission complete, zip back to lower elevations and hunt for the tiny, beautiful wildflowers that start popping up around Bend this time of year. Watch for sand lilies and larkspur on the trail up Pilot Butte or in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. If you want more, cruise some Bend neighborhoods to see crocuses and tulips making their annual appearance (that’s assuming the dear don’t get there first!)
Whirl around in snow tubes, then bumper cars
Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park has been a favorite for my family since the day they opened, and spring is an extra-fun time to visit. Temps are milder, so you can zip down the slope as many times as you like without pausing to warm frozen digits. Tubes are provided on site, and the handy tow rope saves you the hassle of lugging it (or your own lazy butt!) to the top.
Still feel like bouncing around in a rubber-ringed device? Head for Sun Mountain Fun Center for a whirl in the bumper cars. You’ll also find plenty of arcade games and bowling, or if the weather’s nice, head outside for mini-golf, batting cages and go-karts.