There’s frost on the grass, some newly-naked trees, and fresh, frosty caps on our mountains. Must be November in Bend!
More than any other month, November hums with anticipation. Will Mt. Bachelor open Thanksgiving week? Will you win a prize for Bend Ale Trail Month? Will we wake beneath blankets of sparkly snow?
The answers appear as November unfurls her frosty wings. Wondering what’s awesome to see and do as November comes to Bend, Oregon? Read on!
It’s beginning to look a lot like…winter?
While the first day of winter isn’t technically ‘til December, Bend’s weather does a chilly nosedive in November. There’s just a whisper of autumn while we pack up shorts and flip-flops and then wake to find frost on the ground.
November brings icy roads and snow at higher (and sometimes lower) elevations, so it pays to prepare. Coming from someplace less snowy? Buy a set of tire chains and know how to use them. They’re required by law when mountain passes get icy, and the friendly folks at your local tire store can teach you in a jiff how to use them.
Bend’s shopping districts do great with shoveling sidewalks, but if you’re not used to slippery terrain, grab a set of Yaktrax for peace of mind and extra traction. I always have a pair handy for hoofing it up Pilot Butte this time of year. Speaking of which…
Where can we hike and drive?
Winter hiking is one of Bend’s most magical adventures. The crowds are gone, and you’ll seldom see a soul on some trails. As November dusts our mountains with snow, lower-elevation trails stay bare and more temperate than they’d be in July. Go here for a roundup of my favorite winter hikes.
With all of that said, you do need to watch for trail and road closures. November’s when we see major traction (pun intended) on seasonal shut-downs. Some of the biggies to watch for:
- The road up Pilot Butte typically closes to vehicles in early November, but don’t worry! The hiking path stays open year round.
- Officials close the Cascade Lakes Highway at the snow gate just past Mt. Bachelor once snow starts piling up. The date’s a moving target each year, but expect it to happen in November.
- The road through Newberry National Volcanic Monument shuts down at 10 Mile Sno-Park sometime in November as well, cutting off access to attractions like Paulina Falls, Paulina Lake, and East Lake (though you can still ski or snowshoe in).
- The seasonal gate shuts down Forest Service Road 4603 in November. Since that’s your route to Tumalo Falls, you’ll need to park at the gate and hike, fat bike, or snowshoe the extra couple miles to the waterfall.
- Bend’s the perfect home base to explore Crater Lake National Park, which is a couple hours’ drive each way. While the park stays open year round, its north entrance closes to cars in late October or early November. You can still access Crater Lake using highway 62 from the south or the west.
- The McKenzie Highway (OR 242) typically closes to cars in early November and re-opens sometime in June.
That’s a whole lot to keep track of, and it’s just the tip of the iceberg for seasonal closures. How do you know exact dates? I wish I had a crystal ball or a handy, lone link to share, but alas…it’s not so simple with multiple organizations managing different areas.
For info on most roadways, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s TripCheck page makes a solid resource. For trail closure info, follow the Deschutes National Forest on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re an in-person kinda traveler, stop by the Bend Visitor Center for up-to-the minute trail and road info, plus complimentary maps and smiles.
Time to fall back
Though current legislation means Daylight Saving Time may someday be a historic relic, we’re not there yet.
As we fall back this November, the loss of daylight hours makes Bend a bit more “indoorsy.” Lucky for you, there’s still plenty to do when the sun goes down.
Bend’s arts and culture scene kicks into high gear each fall, with The Tower Theatre boasting an impressive lineup of music, theater, films, and other fabulous entertainment.
Families with kiddos will appreciate spots like Mountain Air Trampoline Park and Trampoline Zone for getting the wiggles out, or head for the K1 indoor Kart track to fuel your inner speed demon. Or, hone your hatchet throwing skills at Unofficial Logging Company.
Guests of all ages can hit the High Desert Museum for cool exhibits and native wildlife including river otters, a bobcat, porcupines, and oodles of raptors.
And while indoorsy fun is great, Fido still needs fresh air. Charge up your headlamp, then head for your favorite Bend pet store to grab a lighted collar and maybe some glow-in-the-dark toys.
Here come the holidays!
November opens the holiday floodgates, and they keep flowing ‘til we all heave a collective sigh in the new year.
Though Oregon’s been a 100% vote-by-mail state since 1998, many guests count Election Day as a paid holiday. If you’re among them, why not treat the second Tuesday in November as an excuse for a four-day Bend adventure?
Bend’s Veteran’s Day Parade is touted as one of the largest in the state, and typically takes place the second Friday in November. It’s another three-day weekend when folks flock to Bend for the season’s first taste of snow.
Then come the big guns. Thanksgiving week brings a flurry of Bend restaurants offering turkey and pie and all the trimmings. Go here for a list of Thanksgiving dining options in Bend, then check out our event calendar for a plethora of fun runs to burn off that pumpkin eclair.
If the notion of Thanksgiving makes you feel a bit icky, you’re not alone. Scan the schedule for the Museum at Warm Springs to find events and attractions celebrating local indigenous culture. Make a day of it with lunch at the Painted Pony Expresso Cafe or the Twisted TeePee, then stroll to the Tananawith Art Store for a special souvenir. You can also shop online through Sakari Farms, a Central Oregon grower specializing in Native American tribal foods. Bonus: Their online store makes a great stop for holiday gift giving.
With Thanksgiving done, it’s time for Black Friday. Shopping centers like the Old Mill District go all out with day-after-Thanksgiving sales, kids’ activities, and more. Search the Old Mill’s holiday happenings page for dates and times to help you kick your holiday into high gear.
Downtown Bend has its own holiday events, plus a celebration of Small Business Saturday and the annual Christmas Tree Lighting (typically happening in December, but it sometimes lands at the tail-end of November). Go here to learn what’s happening in Downtown Bend.
And now, for Bend’s biggest holiday of all…
When’s Mt. Bachelor opening?
With one of the longest ski seasons in the country, Mt. Bachelor leaves fans pining for opening day the moment it closes each May.
This year promises to be an epic ski and snowboard season with a wealth of new pass options, not to mention 4,300 acres of lift-accessible terrain. This craggy volcano gets dusted in powdered sugar snow that’s perfect for families, experts, and everyone in between.
The Friday after Thanksgiving has historically been opening day, but climate change keeps getting in the way. When’s opening day this year? That’s the million dollar question, and the answer comes when the snow does.
For up-to-the-minute news on what’s open when at your favorite ski hill, keep your eyes glued to the Mt. Bachelor website.
And if you need backup plans, check out Visit Bend’s event calendar.
It’s beer’s biggest month
Speaking of things worth celebrating, November marks our most celebratory beer season of the year. Bend Ale Trail Month spans the whole month with special prizes, cool events, and gobs of great incentives to explore new territories in the Bend Ale Trail.
This post has everything you need to know about this year’s prizes and how to make the most of your Bend Ale Trail Month bonanza.
If you can’t wait for November, hit the Bend Ale Trail Month kickoff event October 29 at MidTown Yacht Club. That’s Beers from the Dead, featuring resurrected recipes from the archives of Bend’s most cherished breweries. Then pocket your passport and head out to tackle Bend Ale Trail Month.
Cheers to a great November, all!