Nudity may not be a must in your vacation plans, but you must admit November’s newly-naked trees are cause for excitement. It’s a sign of change as we cycle from bright leaves to bare branches and fresh caps of white on the mountains.
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!
Welcome, Old Man Winter!
Technically, the first day of winter doesn’t come until December. But tell that to Bend, where frosty temps and anticipation of impending snowfall keep us giddy all month.
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 microspikes for peace of mind and extra traction. I always have a pair handy for icy dog walks or for hoofing it up Pilot Butte this time of year. Speaking of which…
Time to pivot your hiking plans
While many folks turn their eyes to snowshoeing and skiing in November, it’s still an awesome month for hiking. That’s the perk of visiting a town that sees an average of 30 inches of annual snowfall set right next to a ski hill that sees more than 30 feet of the stuff.
Winter hiking in Bend is a magical experience. 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. I’m especially fond of close-to-town hikes like Sawyer Park, Riley Ranch, and the Oregon Badlands Wilderness this time of year. Pilot Butte makes an awesome winter hike as well, as long as you’re mindful of ice on its steep slopes. For more of my favorite winter hikes, go here.
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 on X (formerly known as 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.
Times they are a’changin’
Though current legislation means Daylight Saving Time may someday be a historic relic, we’re not there yet.
As we fall back this November, sparser daylight hours make Bend 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.
Hone your hatchet throwing skills at Unofficial Logging Company, or pet kitty cats at Playful Paws Cat Cafe. I can’t believe I just suggested those two things in the same sentence, but I swear they’re both awesome!
Didn’t get enough of a ghost fix in November? Bend Ghost Tours leads spooky adventures all year round. Be sure to bundle up for your ghosty stroll through Downtown Bend.
Guests of all ages can hit the High Desert Museum for cool exhibits and native wildlife including river otters, a fox, 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 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 pep you up before or after the main meal.
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 most importantly, the arrival of Santa via Air Link helicopter. 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…
Time for Mt. Bachelor’s opening day?
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 fab 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 also Bend Ale Trail 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.
Even if November weren’t the official month of America’s favorite trail of suds, it’s a fabulous time to taste craft beer in Bend. All the breweries bust out their tastiest seasonal offerings, from luscious porters to belly-warming stouts. Why not spend a magical evening sipping suds (boozy or non-alcoholic) by the fire pit at your favorite Bend brewery?
Cheers to a great November, all!