It’s that time of year when every fan of Bend, Oregon becomes bizarrely fascinated by road conditions. Which seasonal gates are open? Is the snow cleared yet from that road? Can I access my favorite recreation playground?
Relax, road watchers. We’ve got your answers as of May 16, 2019.
Cascade Lakes Highway
The plows have been working overtime on everyone’s favorite Central Oregon roadway, with the goal of opening things up by 6 a.m. on Friday, May 17.
There’s still lots of snow up there, so parking and access may be limited. Plan for snow-covered trails and bring appropriate footwear and apparel.
If you park alongside the road, be sure you’re completely off the road and not blocking traffic, and also be conscious of not damaging vegetation on the sensitive forest floor.
Mt. Bachelor’s finale weekend is slated for May 25 and 26, 2019. It’s a grand-slam weekend filled with boarding, biking, and brews to celebrate another great winter season in the books.
The Sunshine lift will be open for mountain biking, while Skyliner, Pine Marten, and Summit (weather permitting) will be open for skiing and riding. Can you do it all in one day?
Pilot Butte State Park
The paved road to the summit opened to motorized vehicles several weeks ago (much to my surprise as I was walking my dogs in the middle of the road!) so be watchful when hiking along the roadway.
The gate at FS Road 4603 is tentatively scheduled to open May 17, but roadwork happening now makes it tricky to predict for certain. Be aware that crowds can be thick on weekends, so get there early or choose a weekday for your visit.
Lava Lands Visitor Center and Lava River Caves
The Lava Lands Visitor Center and the Lava River Caves are open but running on limited summer hours. They’re currently open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but starting May 23, they’ll be open seven days a week through late summer.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
The Visitor Center at Newberry National Volcanic Monument will begin limited hours of operation (weekends only) May 25-June 9. Beginning June 15, they’ll kick into full summer hours from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., which will continue through September 1.
The road to Newberry Caldera is slated to open May 17. Paulina Lake Resort is open, but there’s still quite a bit of snow up there.
McKenzie Highway (OR 242)
The McKenzie Highway (OR 242) will open to motorized vehicles the third Monday in June. That gives cyclists a rare opportunity to enjoy a car-free road to themselves after the snow melts but before the vehicles start flowing. Do keep in mind that crews are still working to clear trees from summer wildfires, so be watchful of machinery. The machinery isn’t running Friday through Sunday, so that’s generally a safer time to ride.
The Cascade Welcome Station
If you’re heading up to the Cascade Lakes Highway, the Forest Service’s Cascade Welcome Station is a great stop along the way to get your bearings and pick up tips and information. Through May 22, they’re open Thursday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Starting May 23, they’ll be open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with this schedule continuing through September 2.
The High Desert Museum
One of Central Oregon’s most popular attractions, the High Desert Museum shifted to summer hours on April 1, operating daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October 31. Filled with cool exhibits, awesome animals, and tons of awesome art and natural history, they’re consistently ranked as one of TripAdvisor’s top Bend activities. Go here for a detailed schedule.
Crane Prairie and Twin Lakes Resort are already open. Cultus Lake is slated to open May 17, with Paulina Lake following soon after (May 20) and Elk Lake opening May 24.
Crater Lake National Park
You can enter the park from the south or west on Highway 62, but the North Entrance and most of Rim Drive are still closed due to snow. Conditions are changing daily, so keep an eye on this link for up-to-the-minute info.
Other cool stuff
A few other awesome Bend attractions worth mentioning for the 2019 summer season:
- The Bend Farmers Market kicked off almost a full month early this year, with the Downtown Market operating on Wednesdays. There’s also a farmers market in Northwest Crossing on Saturdays from 10-2 starting June 8, and you can learn more about that here.
- The 2019 Central Oregon Saturday Market kicks off on Memorial Weekend this year, with the first event happening May 25.