Category: Mt. Bachelor
On September 23, Mt. Bachelor became the first ski area in North America to offer skiing and snowboarding in advance of the 2017-18 winter season when an early storm dumped more than a foot of snow.
Though that was only for a weekend, they followed it up this week by announcing for the first time in ten years that they’ll open the weekend before Thanksgiving. November 18 is the big day, guys!
It’s fabulous news for snow fans, and Mt. Bachelor is sweetening the deal with some awesome sales happening right now.
But Mt. Bachelor isn’t the only Bend entity enjoying noteworthy “firsts” this winter. Here are three more worth having on your radar for winter 2017-18.
Riley Ranch Nature Reserve becomes Bend’s first bike-free, dog-free park
But for recreation enthusiasts seeking a quieter, more wildlife-filled park experience, the opening of Riley Ranch Nature Reserve in December is an exciting event.
Riley Ranch is a 184-acre nature reserve featuring 35 acres of canyon floor and a 30-acre band of rimrock cliffs on the northwest edge of Bend. This mostly rugged terrain is a near-to-home nature experience unlike others provided by Bend Park and Recreation District. From its unique location adjacent to the Deschutes River, Riley Ranch Nature Reserve offers dramatic views of the Cascade Mountain Range and the river canyon.
The park’s size and location, coupled with a lack of dogs and bikes, means you’re much more likely to get close-up views of wildlife you may not see in Bend’s other parks. It should be an awesome spot for hiking and trail running, so put it on your calendar to visit this winter.
The High Desert Museum shows off their Pacific Lamprey
Ever seen a Pacific Lamprey?
Probably not, unless you’ve visited the High Desert Museum recently. That’s because they’re the first museum in Oregon to partner with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation to have the Pacific Lamprey on exhibit.
Lamprey have a rich cultural history with the tribal groups of the Columbia Plateau, but the fish have lost much of their native habitat. They’re bizarre looking creatures, but vitally important to High Desert river ecosystems and have a fascinating biology and natural history. Visiting the High Desert Museum right now is your chance to get a close look at this unique animal.
If that’s not a cool enough achievement for you, the High Desert Museum also has a Western Screech Owl named William who is believed to be the oldest living screech owl in captivity. The previous record is 13 years, but William’s history with the High Desert Museum goes back to 1997 when he arrived as an adult after being hit by a car. He’s retired from being on exhibit now, but you can feel happy knowing he’s there enjoying his golden years while you’re busy scoping out the Lamprey.
Bend’s first car returns to the Deschutes Historical Museum
Here’s one for the history buffs: This December, the first car that ever came to Bend will go back on display after spending time on the road for the county centennial.
The car is a 1907 Holsman, and following a tune-up, it will reappear at the Deschutes Historical Museum so you can get a close look at it.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page for the announcement of when the car goes back on display. To learn more about the background of Bend’s first car, check out this awesome video.
While I’ve blogged many times about family-friendly travel and fun things to do with the kids in Bend (both warm weather and cool weather options), it occurred to me yesterday that I haven’t given you the full story.
I thought of this as I was stuffing my car full of coolers, floaties, standup paddle gear, and oh yeah—kids—before heading to Little Lava Lake for the day. Thusly inspired, I ran back inside for notepads and pens.
“I have a job for you guys,” I said to Violet (age 9) and Cedar (age 13) as they climbed into the car. “I need you to write down your favorite things to do, see, and eat in Bend.”
They eyed the notepads warily, probably wondering how they got stuck with homework four days after school let out. But then they thought about the assignment.
“So you mean we get to write down all our favorite stuff so you’ll know what we like doing best and we can do it all the time?” the 9-year-old asked.
“Pretty much,” I agreed. “But also so other kids and parents will know what they might like doing.”
That sounded like a good thing to them. So with that introduction, here are 12 things your kids are sure to love doing in Bend.
The Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center (SHARC)
I wasn’t surprised to see SHARC in the top spot on both kids’ lists. “It’s fun if you like swimming,” wrote the nine-year-old, while the 13-year-old noted, “Great water slides.” In case you’re unfamiliar with it, SHARC is a mecca of cool water and warm sunshine open to the public year-round, even if you aren’t staying at the Sunriver Resort. SHARC features more than 2.5 acres of grass, indoor and outdoor recreation pools, a hot tub, two water slides, a lazy river, and a tubing hill. The outdoor pool sports a veritable water playground of kid-friendly goodies, while the lazy river makes an excellent spot for folks seeking a more laidback experience. It’s a great little day trip from Bend, since it’s a short 25-minute drive (plus you’ve got an excuse to hit one of the newest additions the Bend Ale Trail with a visit to Sunriver Brewing Company).
Cascade Indoor Sports
I actually had to ask the 13-year-old what Cascade Indoor Sports was when I saw it on his list. “It’s that place you took us rollerblading,” he reminded me in a tone that was blessedly devoid of “duh.”
See? This is why it’s great to have the kids make their own lists. I’d totally forgotten our skating adventure more than three years ago, but he hadn’t!
You can pick between roller skates and rollerblades, and there are special prices for birthday parties or skaters who bring their own equipment. It’s a terrific way to burn off a bit of energy or kill time when the weather is too hot or too cold to be outdoors. For skate times and fee info, go here.
This one made the list for both kids even though it’s currently 85-degrees outside and we’re all wearing shorts. “In the winter I like inner-tubing, snowboarding, and skiing at Mt. Bachelor,” shared the 13-year-old, though his sister was quick to point out the warm-weather options, too. “Bachelor is fun if you like hiking,” she added.
Sun Mountain Fun Center
It was no big shocker to see this one made both kids’ lists. With a plethora of arcade games, bumper cars, and bowling facilities, plus warm-weather activities like mini-golf, go-karts, and batting cages, Sun Mountain Fun Center is pretty much a kids’ paradise. “It’s fun for family play time,” the 9-year-old noted.
Since they also serve pizza and a lot of really good local craft beer, I’m inclined to agree.
The Deschutes River
Both kids wrote this one on their lists, and I had to ask them to be more specific about what they liked. “Floating,” they both agreed. “Especially when we rent those tubes.”
Ah, yes—the tubes. While we have a plethora of floating devices in our own garage, nothing quite compares to the cool float tubes we rent right in Riverbend Park from the folks at Sun Country Tours.
And while these two clearly had splashing and water play on the brain since we were en route to a lake for the day, it’s also worth noting the Deschutes River is a lovely place to be even when you don’t dip your toes in the water. Take a leisurely after-dinner stroll along the riverfront, or rent a surrey from Wheel Fun Rentals to cruise through the Old Mill District. Which leads me to the next item on the list…
The Old Mill District
I have to admit, I was a little surprised to see this one made the 13-year-old’s list. Not that Bend’s Old Mill District isn’t a fabulous place to shop and dine, but I hadn’t realized those were activities that piqued his teenage interest.
On the contrary, he not only digs Old Mill dining spots like Flatbread Community Pizza (where kids can make their own pizzas), but he likes browsing shops like American Eagle, Buckle, Gap, GameStop, and Zumiez.
And while the 9-year-old didn’t actually include this one on her list, I know she’s nuts about girly spots like Claire’s and Bath & Bodyworks, since we managed to hit both on Friday night after our family’s celebratory “school’s out” dinner at Red Robin.
Widgi Creek Golf Course
A budding golfer, the 13-year-old included Widgi Creek on his list. Since I’ve never been there myself, I’ll have to take his word for it (though I am quite fond of hiking the section of the Deschutes River Trail that runs right below the area).
For a full roundup of golf courses around Central Oregon, go here.
Elk Lake, Devil’s Lake, Little Lava Lake
We’re frequent visitors to Bend’s High Cascade Lakes in the summer months, but Elk Lake took the prize for both kids. They like the wide array of boat rentals and paddleboards, plus a cool lodge that makes tasty lunches. When winter rolls around, it’s a great spot for snowmobiling.
One kid also mentioned Devil’s Lake, which is one of my personal faves. It has glorious turquoise water and a lovely hiking trail that runs around the perimeter.
Since the kids wrote their lists as we were on our way to their first visit to Little Lava Lake, that spot didn’t officially make the list for either of them. However, based on how much they loved paddling around this mellow little lake using our own boards brought from home, I’m going to say this was another favorite. Like Devil’s Lake, there’s no motorized boat traffic here, so it’s a nice, mellow, relaxing spot to picnic and spend a quiet day playing in the water.
Bend Summer Festival, Oktoberfest, Fall Festival, Munch & Music, Spring Festival, Winterfest
While the kids didn’t rattle them all off by name, both of their lists included some mention of Bend’s festival scene. I sometimes joke that Bend has more festivals than anyplace on earth, but it’s a definite plus when you have kids in tow. Bend’s festivals do a terrific job of establishing kids’ areas complete with bouncy houses, games, face painting, craft booths, and more. Check the Event Calendar to see if there’s a festival happening during your Bend vacation.
Bend is one of the only cities in the continental U.S. with a dormant volcano in the city limits, which carries a few cool points right there. But the biggest reason my step-kids love it is our family tradition of hiking to the top with a carton of bubbles. No matter how old they get, they never seem to tire of scurrying around the summit chasing rainbow-tinted bubbles that drift on fragrant mountain breezes.
Getting up there is good exercise for all of us, plus there’s the added bonus of providing glorious views of the city and mountains. We usually take the dog, who enjoys the hike as much as the rest of us do. Though we always hoof it to the top, some folks opt to drive between May and October when the road is open to motorized traffic.
Riverhouse Hotel & Convention Center
I was a little surprised to see a hotel make the list, since these kids reside in Bend full time. But the 13-year-old reminded me that he attended a birthday party at The Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center, and it made a lasting impression on him. “They have two swimming pools—one inside and one outside,” he shared, which is clearly a big selling point for most kids. He also spoke highly of the food, a claim I can back up after enjoying many lovely meals happy hours on the stunning riverfront deck at Crossings.
Juniper Swim & Fitness Center
This one made the list for the 9-year-old, who loves accompanying me to Juniper Swim & Fitness for regular yoga classes and their special kids’ fitness classes. They also have an indoor pool that’s open year-round (complete with steam rooms, hot tub, and kiddie pool) plus a terrific outdoor pool that’s open in the summertime with kids’ play areas and a great waterslide. It’s operated by Bend Parks & Rec and offers super low drop-in rates for out-of-town visitors craving a workout or a dip in the pool. Go here for rates, hours, schedules, and more.
I like Bend beer.
I also like wearing a bikini without cringing in horror each time I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the Deschutes River.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to have both things without one canceling out the other. It’s even possible to have a little fun while you’re at it.
Using this website, I plugged in the stats for the CDC’s estimation of an average 35-year-old woman (5’4” and 166 pounds). I don’t know about you, but none of those numbers apply to me personally, so you’ll probably want to plug in your own stats to get an accurate calorie count.
But this is more for fun than for actual scientific research, so here we go with my roundup of how much Bend recreation you’ll want to enjoy to cancel out all those extra calories along the Bend Ale Trail.
Hike Pilot Butte to earn some suds from Worthy Brewing
Pilot Butte is the 500-foot dormant volcano in the middle of town, and folks enjoy driving, hiking, or jogging to the top for a killer views of the city.
It so happens Worthy Brewing is located just a little east of Pilot Butte and boasts splendid views of the landmark. It’s convenient for watching fireworks when Independence Day rolls around, but also a handy way to remind yourself what you’ve gotta do to earn those tasty Worthy beers.
Craving something simple like their Easy Day Kolsch? It’s light, crisp, and on the low-cal end of the spectrum at 130 calories for a 12 oz serving. Using those stats I gave earlier, our 35-year-old woman could enjoy a leisurely, 40 minute stroll with her dog around the flat little track at the base of Pilot Butte and burn 159 calories. Score! You can even put an olive in that Kolsch if you want.
Eyeing something heftier like Worthy’s Dark Muse Imperial Stout? That bad boy comes in at about 350 calories, so you’ve gotta hoof it to the top of Pilot Butte to earn it. Figure the whole hike takes a bit less than an hour, and half of it is the equivalent of walking up stairs, while the other half is a mellow downhill hike. That should burn around 500 calories, which is more than enough to earn you that Dark Muse and a cozy spot by one of Worthy Brewing’s fire pits.
Play nine holes of golf for a few cans of Good Life
I’m not a golfer, so I was a little stunned when I learned the number of calories you burn whacking a ball around the course. A golf-fanatic pal told me it takes an average of two hours to play nine holes, and when I used our handy online calculator and selected the option to carry your own clubs, it showed me a whopping 916 calories. This article confirms what our little calorie counter says, so we’re going with it!
There are more than two dozen golf courses around Central Oregon, and most of them boast drink carts stocked with tasty Bend craft beer. On a hot day, few things taste better than a cold can of Sweet As Pacific Ale from GoodLife Brewing, and the drink cart at River’s Edge Golf Course has plenty to go around (along with brews from other favorites like Deschutes and 10 Barrel).
But let’s focus on the Sweet As, since its mild flavor and Pacific hops make this the perfect easy sipper for a warm day in Bend. A 12 ounce can of Sweet As has 183 calories, which means you could have three or four of these and still reap some calorie-burning benefit from your golf game (though your golf game may not benefit from that much beer).
If you do opt to guzzle several cans, be sure you line up a sober driver or a cab, OK?
Earn your Deschutes beer with an afternoon of paddling or skiing
When summer rolls around, I start itching to hop on my standup paddleboard and hit the Deschutes River. One of my favorite post-paddle treats is River Ale from Deschutes Brewery. At 140 calories for a 12 ounce serving, I only need to paddle for 20 minutes to kill 159 calories. Since I usually go for an hour in an afternoon of SUPing on the Deschutes River, I can have two beers or nibble a couple hot wings at their Bend brew pub.
If it happens to be wintertime when your craving for Deschutes beer hits, you’ll probably want something a little heartier to drink. My personal fave is The Abyss Imperial Stout, with its deep, dark body and complex notes of molasses and licorice. A beer this big packs a whopping 344.53 calories for 12 ounces, or 632.5 calories if you guzzle the whole 22-ounce bottle (an endeavor you’d want to undertake verrrry slooowly). Luckily, an hour of skiing at Mt. Bachelor burns about 657 calories, so earning your Abyss bliss won’t be tough.
Bike for your 10 Barrel brew
The great thing about Bend is that you can mountain bike all year long, even when snow is flying in the mountains.
You can also enjoy 10 Barrel’s flagship brew, Apocalypse IPA, all year long. Coincidence? I think not.
One hour of mountain biking on Phil’s Trail in Bend should burn about 637 calories for our aforementioned average female. The hoppy, complex, super-drinkable Apocalypse has roughly 195 calories for a 12-ounce serving, so you can swig a couple of them and still reap some calorie burning benefit from your singletrack adventure. You’re welcome.
Now who’s ready for swimsuit season?
How to sync your must-do list with your Bend vacation budget (plus a chance to win a family pass for Oregon Winterfest!)
When you’re planning a winter vacation in Bend, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the “must-do” activities. You simply MUST ski at Mt. Bachelor. You absolutely MUST go shopping in the Old Mill District. You really MUST take the whole family out for a gourmet meal at one of Bend’s best restaurants.
If you’re traveling on a budget, it starts to feel like you MUST take out a second mortgage on your home to afford all that.
I agree a Bend winter vacation should include most of the following activities, and it’s also true there’s usually a good reason the pricier version costs more. That said, here are a few ways you can enjoy variations of some must-do winter activities on a shoestring budget.
Hit the Snowblast Tubing Park at Mt. Bachelor
What’s cool about it?
Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park is my in-laws’ all-time favorite Bend activity, and no winter visit is complete unless we take the whole family up there for an afternoon of sliding down 800-foot slopes filled with rollers that make your belly flip with glee. With a pull rope that drags you to the top of the hill as you sit comfortably in the massive inner tube they provide, it’s the perfect activity for those who want the joy of sledding, but don’t want to deal with buying sleds or hiking up a slope again and again and again until you’re blue in the face.
As an added bonus, I always feel safe sledding there. Professionals man the top and bottom of the course, and they send people down the lanes in an organized fashion so no one gets squished. Even when the whole family joins hands to slide down together in a big cluster, there’s someone making sure we’re not doing anything sketchy. That’s a big bonus in my book, and generally worth paying $14 for adults or $11 for kids 12 & under to enjoy a two-hour session during non-holiday hours (prices go up for holiday periods or full-day passes).
What if I can’t afford that?
While Mt. Bachelor’s tubing park is a bucket-list item I highly, highly recommend, you don’t have to forego the sledding if you’re pinching pennies.
Just a few miles downhill from Mt. Bachelor is Wanoga Sno Park. For a $5 Sno-Park Permit (which you can purchase at the Bend Visitor Center on the corner of Lava and Oregon) and the cost of a cheap plastic saucer sled (you can find ‘em for around $8 at spots like Dick’s, Big 5 and Home Depot), you’re ready to roll at this family-friendly sledding hill.
Bonus: You’ll get plenty of exercise hiking up the slope at the end of each run, and there’s a nice warming hut at the bottom where you can toast your toes by the fireplace. For more ideas on sledding in Bend, check out this blog post.
Enjoy a guided snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours
What’s cool about it?
When it comes to natural history and geology, the naturalist guides at Wanderlust Tours are like walking encyclopedias. That’s assuming walking encyclopedias could take you to really cool places like ancient caves and a massive amphitheater hand-carved into the snow.
Wanderlust’s winter tours are the crème-de-la-crème if you’re looking for the best snowshoe outing money can buy. You get all your gear, instruction, and transportation to and from your Bend hotel or vacation rental, plus cocoa (if you’re on a non-boozy daytime tour or one of their family-friendly adventures), local beer (if you’re on one of their Shoes, Brews, & Views tours), or other adult beverages and snacks (if you opt for one of their nighttime outings like Bonfire on the Snow or the Moonlight & Starlight trips).
Snowshoe tours range from $55-$75 per person, depending on your age and adventure of choice. I’ve gone snowshoeing with Wanderlust at least half-a-dozen times, and if money were no object, I would snowshoe with them every single day. Whether you’re a brand-new beginner who wants a bit of hand-holding, or an experienced trekker hoping to discover secret spots for launching yourself off snow-covered boulders into a pillowy sea of powder, an outing with Wanderlust is sure to be the highlight of your Bend winter vacation.
What if I can’t afford that?
Okay, okay . . . I get it. Sometimes a tour like that just isn’t in your budget. You’ve got a couple options here. You can rent a pair of snowshoes on your own and set out for a solo adventure. Local rental shops like Mountain Supply and Powder House can give you tips on where to go.
But if a guided snowshoe tour is what you want, drive up to Mt. Bachelor and knock on the door of the U.S. Forest Service shack in the parking lot not far from the main lodge. That’s where they offer free guided snowshoe trips with a Forest Service naturalist.
The good news: They provide snowshoes, instruction, and a pretty awesome 90-minute interpretive tour, where you’ll learn about the winter ecology at Mt. Bachelor, the geology of Central Oregon, the Deschutes National Forest watershed, and the plants and animals found throughout the area. The outing is free, though they accept donations for the Discover Your Forest program.
The not-so-good-news: These tours fill up super-fast, especially around the holidays. You also have to provide your own transportation to and from Mt. Bachelor. But if you’re willing to deal with those inconveniences, this is a pretty cheap way to get a taste of snowshoe adventure.
Go ice skating at Seventh Mountain or Sunriver Resort
What’s cool about it?
Okay, “twirling” might be a slight exaggeration. “Sliding awkwardly and falling down a lot” is probably more accurate.
Still, both of those resorts are a great place to do it. The rinks are large and well-maintained, and they offer amenities like private lessons and parties (Seventh Mountain) and a covered rink that stays nice and toasty (Sunriver). There’s also tons of room to move around without crashing into anyone (always a plus for novice skaters like me).
At Sunriver, the fee is $13 for adults or $9 for kids 5-12, and that includes your skate rental (though they’ll knock $3 off if you have your own skates). At Seventh Mountain Resort, you’ll pay $8 for admission and $6 for skate rental (though their weekly “Cheapskate Tuesday” deal gets you $10 admission with skates included all day each Tuesday, excluding holiday weeks).
What if I can’t afford that?
My step-kids looooove ice skating. Me? I feel so-so about it, which is why I’m sometimes hesitant to shell out much money for the experience. My solution? A 15-minute drive to Redmond, where Redmond Parks & Recreation operates a perfectly lovely (albeit, small) ice skating rink.
Fees are $4 per person, which includes your skates (they knock a buck off if you have your own). Taking the whole family? Nab a $12 family pass for up to six people in the same household, and everyone can enjoy a full day of skating for less than the cost of a pizza.
Hours of operation can vary, depending on weather, so if temps are a little warmer, call first to make sure they’re open.
Check out Oregon Winterfest February 13-15
What’s cool about it?
Oregon Winterfest is a massive annual celebration of the snowy season, and it happens right here in Bend. There’s live music, a Wine Walk, The Playground Games featuring both ski and snowboard competitions, live music, ice carving, a fire pit competition, live music, motocross with Metal Mulisha, an OMSI kids’ tent, live music, a 5k and 10k race, tasty food and beverages, live music, and more.
Did I mention live music? There’s tons of that, including March Fourth Marching Band (described by the Phoenix New Times as “like Sergeant Pepper leading a freaky Cirque du Soleil performance from the bandstand or European Gypsy camps stumbling upon the rhythms of Brazilian Jungle tribes”). You’ll also have the chance to see platinum-selling artists, Filter, in their only Northwest show on the tour. They’re known for their rough-around-the-edges production, lavish bass lines, and jagged guitars set to a backdrop of drum machines punctuated by the unfurling of Richard Patrick’s vocal prowess and signature roar.
Seriously, Oregon Winterfest is one of those awesome winter events you don’t want to miss. Check out the schedule of events here and plan your Presidents’ Day Weekend trip accordingly. Advance buttons are $6 at OnPoint Community Credit Union, or $8 at the Old Mill District’s Ticket Mill and Newport Avenue Market. They’re $10 at the gate. You can also purchase a family pass at the gate, which includes four all-access buttons for $30. Tickets are also available online through BendTicket.com.
What if I can’t afford that?
How about the chance to WIN a family four-pack of buttons? Free is a pretty budget-friendly price.
Here’s how you enter: Go here and “like” the Oregon Winterfest Facebook page so you’ll have up-to-the-minute updates on what’s happening at the event.
Then leave a comment on this blog post sharing what Oregon Winterfest event or activity you’re most looking forward to this year. Need a roundup of ideas? Go here.
You’ve gotta do both things to make your entry count. We’ll draw a winner at noon on Thursday, January 22 so you have plenty of time to plan your trip.
Now get out there and enjoy the season!
But whether or not you love strapping slippery boards to your feet and sliding down an incline, Bend still offers a dizzyingly diverse array of activities to enjoy during the snow-packed months of winter. Here are five winter vacation ideas you can get the most from your vacation in Bend.
Do the ever lovin’ heck out of Mt. Bachelor
First things first: Mt. Bachelor has the highest skiable elevation in all of Oregon and Washington, and it’s one of the largest single-mountain resorts in the country. The fact that it’s a dormant volcano gives you the rare opportunity to ride 360-degrees off the summit, and with an average snowfall of 462 inches, there’s plenty of white stuff to go around.
Like to ski and snowboard? They’ve got 3,700 acres of lift-accessible terrain ranging from beginner slopes to terrain parks to treed slopes with pillowy caches of powder. And unlike a lot of resorts around the country, Mt. Bachelor makes sure you spend a lot more time on the slopes than you do standing in lift lines.
If Nordic skiing is more your speed, Bachelor has the longest groomed Nordic season in North America, with trails open from mid-November to late-May. More than a dozen trails sweep over 56km of forest, and the area is machine-groomed and track-set every night.
Craving something a little outside-the-box from your Mt. Bachelor experience? Try a sled dog ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams, or grab the whole family for an afternoon of sledding fun on the Snowblast Tubing Park.
Biking in wintertime?
When I explain the basics of a Bend winter vacation to journalists who’ve never been here, one thing that consistently blows their minds is the idea that you can ski powder all morning, then drive 20 minutes down the hill and spend your afternoon mountain biking on 277 miles of sweeping singletrack.
That’s the beauty of this area. While Bachelor might get the aforementioned 462 inches of snow each season, the city of Bend averages only 23.8 inches. You can credit the magic of elevation gain and the high desert climate for that little miracle.
If you’ve got your mountain bike loaded on your car already, check out Visit Bend’s mountain biking guide to learn everything you need to know to have a blast when you’re out riding. Prefer to hit the trails in the company of a seasoned tour guide who can hook you up with all the equipment you need? Book a full-day or half-day adventure with Cog Wild Mountain Bike Tours.
If you just can’t get enough snow, you’ll be fired up about the latest cycling craze. Fat bikes have oversized tires designed to cruise through the snow. You can rent one from Hub Cyclery in Downtown Bend, then stick around and enjoy a free beer from their in-house tap while you chat up the staff about which trails to hit.
Now it’s time for some suds
You’ve played hard in the great outdoors, so you’ve earned the right to reward yourself with some delicious craft beer along the Bend Ale Trail.
Pick up your passport at the Bend Visitor Center or any of the 14 breweries that are part of the program. Then sip your way from brewery to brewery gathering passport stamps and sampling hoppy IPAs, malty porters, and unique seasonal selections you’ll only find in the pubs.
For tips on making the most of your Bend Ale Trail adventure, check out this post!
Soak up some arts and culture
Now that you’re nice and relaxed, it’s time to scope out Bend’s unique arts and culture scene. If you’re in town at the beginning of the month, don’t miss First Friday Art Walk and the awesome opportunity to browse shops in Downtown Bend while enjoying music, art, wine, nibbles, and the chance to chat with artists about their work.
If you want to catch a show, the historic Tower Theatre is a great place to start, or check out the kitschy-cool Tin Pan Theater. While you’re there, stroll around Downtown Bend checking out the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection for a look at one of Bend’s most unique assortments of outdoor art. Want more? Swing by the Bend Visitor Center to grab a passport for the Roundabout Art Route, then set out on a mission to see an exciting array of sculptures in the center of Bend’s traffic circles. If you’d prefer to leave the driving to someone else, call Bend Tour Company and book their popular Bend Art Safari tour.
If you’ve got a hankering for some Bend history, check out the Des Chutes Historical Museum, or visit the High Desert Museum for Central Oregon’s coolest collection of natural history exhibits and animals.
Snow play without slipping and sliding
Ready to get back to the snow now? Try snow play of a different sort when you book a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours.
Choose from daytime outings with your kids in tow, or opt for the Shoes, Brews & Views tour featuring an array of local beer from breweries along the Bend Ale Trail. If you’re more of a night owl (or just want the experience of seeing the snowy landscape under sparkling stars) try one of their Moonlight or Starlight Snowshoe Tours, where you’ll trek to an amphitheater carved into the snow.
Your snowshoe outings with Wanderlust include all gear, transportation, refreshments, and the most engaging, entertaining, and educated naturalist guides in the biz.
The seasonal countdown has begun, and powder hounds around the Northwest are watching the weather and gearing up for opening day at the mountain with the highest skiable elevation in Oregon and Washington (uh, that’s Mt. Bachelor, in case you’re wondering).
While the actual date is in the hands of Mother Nature, Mt. Bachelor’s website indicates they’re hoping for the traditional Thanksgiving week opening around November 26. So what should you do to get ready?
Get your gear in order
Whether you need a brand new set of skis and bindings, or just a tune-up for your snowboard, you’ll find tons of shops in Bend where they’ll be happy to hook you up. Check out our winter gear rental page to browse retailers and rental shops, or visit the retail and demo shop at Mt. Bachelor for all the latest equipment.
Become a stalker
No, we don’t want you dressing in black and following strangers down the street. Being a snow-stalker is a lot less creepy (not to mention less likely to get you arrested). Facebook fans will find frequent mountain updates on the Mt. Bachelor Facebook page, or check out Visit Bend’s Facebook page 3-5 daily posts about everything from snow conditions to Bend events to what’s happening along the Bend Ale Trail.
Mt. Bachelor does an awesome job keeping their website updated with current conditions, so check it often for up-to-the-minute info about lift operations and snow reports.
Line up your lodging
Hotels and Bend rentals can book up fast once the snow starts falling, so don’t get caught without a reservation. Now’s a great time to scope out the roundup of hot deals on Visit Bend’s lodging pages. Book early to find the best selection of bargains ranging from kids-stay-free promos, to packages that include lift tickets or even free nights.
Live in a fantasy world
I know it’s weird to suggest you deliberately watch a television commercial—much less two television commercials—but hear me out on this.
In the moments leading up to your first seasonal swoop through shimmering powder, it pays to get yourself pumped up. Visit Bend just debuted a pair of amazing commercials guaranteed to leave you pining for a winter vacation. Check out the one titled “Warmth” before bopping over to scope out “Outside.”
If that doesn’t leave you craving a winter getaway to Bend, check your pulse.
Do a snow dance
I’ll admit it—I’m superstitious.
I know I’m not alone, as plenty of our social media pals have made mention of doing a snow dance to ensure plenty of fresh powder at Mt. Bachelor. Assuming they’re serious (and who would joke about such a thing?) I encourage you to join the ranks of the snow dancers by performing a little jig of your own. No, really. Go on, I’ll hold your beer.
In case you need ideas, check out this blog post for a few helpful hints on performing your own snow dance. Then get out there and boogie with your bad self.
Snag a promotional deal at Mt. Bachelor
Mt. Bachelor is famous for killer discounts and cost-saving programs like Kids Ski Free, but the pre-season promo prices tend to be extra special. Their new “Any 5” package offers five days of coaching, appetizers, beer, and fun, but you have to purchase it by Nov. 30 to get it for just $229 (after that, the price goes up to $279). Go here to learn more about it, or keep an eye on their deals & discounts page for the latest bargains.
What the @#$% is shoulder season? Six reasons you should know (and should plan your Bend vacation around it!)
When I started working for Visit Bend four years ago and first heard the term “shoulder season,” I thought of bare arms in a summery sundress on a warm July day in Bend.
Turns out I wasn’t even close. Shoulder season refers to periods of lower tourism activity sandwiched between the busiest times. In Bend’s case, tourism is booming in the summer months when everyone shows up for rafting, hiking, standup paddleboarding, and other warm-weather activities. Same deal with winter, when folks arrive in droves driving cars loaded down with skis, snowboards, snowmobiles, snowshoes, and sleds.
Does that mean fall and spring are less desirable times to plan a Bend vacation? Nothing could be further from the truth! Here are six reasons Bend’s shoulder seasons are an amazing time visit Bend, Oregon.
Score screamin’ deals
When tourists get scarce, Bend hotels and resorts get competitive. That means fall and spring are some of the best times to score killer deals on Bend lodging. If you’re considering a shoulder season visit to Bend, check out Visit Bend’s Hot Deals page for the latest promotions and specials.
For instance, the Riverhouse Hotel and Convention Center has a list of dates offering a 25% reduction off their normal room rate. Go here to see what they are. Brasada Ranch has a wide range of specials offering free nights and deep discounts on their luxury cabins.
Avoid the crowds
Introverts like me especially appreciate Bend’s fall and springtime seasons when the crowds thin out around town. Plan a visit to Bend during the shoulder season and odds are good you’ll never have to fight for dinner reservations at any Bend restaurant or wait long to be seated while you’re scoping out the city’s best eggs benedict for breakfast.
Had trouble in the past with organized tours filling up during a peak-season visit? Not a problem when you show up in October or April. You’ll have the place to yourself!
If snowplay is your thing, you’ll be thrilled to know Mt. Bachelor consistently has one of the best spring skiing seasons in North America, with snowpack that sticks around longer and deeper than anyplace else.
See the seasons change
As you probably noticed, Bend’s shoulder seasons correspond with the transition from warm weather to chilly, or vice versa. Visit Bend in late-September to watch the leaves change, or show up in October and November to savor the sight of pumpkins on doorsteps and the ear-to-ear grins of folks giddy at the sight of those first falling snowflakes (a much nicer sight than the mid-March scowls when we’re all tired of shoveling snow).
When springtime rolls around, it’s a great time to enjoy the first buds on trees and the amusing sight of folks jumping the gun on warm weather recreation by heading out to standup paddleboard in puffy jackets and gloves.
Sights like these are the sort of things Bend residents treasure and savor, but few tourists get to enjoy them. Dontcha kinda want to enjoy Bend the way the locals get to?
Play outside all year round
But let’s not forget Bend offers a wealth of other recreation opportunities even when you can’t ski or splash in the river in your bikini.
Fall is the perfect time of year to plan a fishing trip to Bend, with oodles of steelhead just begging you to break out that fly rod. Mountain biking is another terrific shoulder season sport, with the folks at Cog Wild offering guided trips all year long.
When the weather is less-than-stellar, it’s a great time to explore Bend’s volcanic landscapes with a cave adventure from Wanderlust Tours.
Did someone say seasonal beer specials?
The Bend Ale Trail is a popular attraction all year long, but there are some added incentives for trekking this trail of craft beer during Bend’s shoulder seasons.
For starters, there’s Bend Ale Trail Month. Each November, anyone who completes the Bend Ale Trail and submits a completed passport at the Bend Visitor Center during the month will receive a special trophy, along with some killer bragging rights.
If that’s not enticement enough, consider the fact that fresh hop season happens in September and pumpkin brews abound in October. Fall is also when Deschutes Brewery starts to trot out seasonal favorites like Jubelale and The Abyss.
When springtime rolls around, it’s a great time to be here for the release of brews designed for swilling in the sunshine on the back deck of your Bend vacation rental. You can also plan a spring trip around Zwickelmania, the statewide celebration of craft beer happening every February over President’s Day Weekend. Go here to check out the schedule of events for this year, then plan your vacation accordingly.
Come for the special events
I don’t think I’m giving away any huge trade secrets when I tell you tourism folks like to plan cool festivals during the shoulder seasons. It’s a great way to draw visitors here when the city needs a bump in business.
Visit Bend’s Event Calendar is a great place to scope out what’s happening throughout the year. You can search by date or by the type of event you prefer.
Some of the highlights from the fall season include Bend Fall Festival and BendFilm Festival in October. In early November, come out for the Halloween Cross Crusades cyclocross race and all the fun events associated with it.
The annual Springtacular event at Mt. Bachelor spans several weeks in March and April, and offers a great opportunity to score great deals on spring skiing (not to mention tons of fun competitions and live music!)
My headline might be misleading, so make no mistake about it—you’re going to look like a total dork.
But with tons of snow scheduled to hit Mt.Bachelor in the coming days, it’s crucial we all do our part to ensure the mountains surrounding Bend have plenty of fluffy white stuff this season.
At some point during your Bend vacation, you must do a snow dance. You’re welcome to dredge the depths of your creativity to make up your own, or consider using one of the following options.
The sugar snow dance
- Stroll through Downtown Bend en route to Thump Coffee. Pause along the way to admire the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection scattered throughout public areas, including the parking garage, Gasoline Alley, and Tin Pan Alley.
- Enter Thump Coffee and order the tasty beverage of your choice (I recommend Blue People Oolong for tea drinkers and the Violet Beaurgard—that’s a salted blueberry mocha—for coffee fans). Don’t forget the muffin.
- Carry your drink to the condiment station at the rear of the shop and take a firm hold of the sugar dispenser.
- Pour one tablespoon of sugar directly into your palm, toss it up in the air, open your mouth to catch the flakes on your tongue, and sing the following song to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat:”
Snow, snow in my mouth
My face, my hair and ears
Mother Nature, send us more
I’ll buy you seven beers
- Apologize to the barista and request a broom so you can clean up your mess.
- Hold good on your promise by embarking on a journey along the Bend Ale Trail, where you will visit all 12 breweries collecting passport stamps, earning prizes, and lifting at least seven of your favorite craft brew selections in a toast to Mother Nature.
The doggie snow dance
- Head up to Mt.Bachelor and schedule a sled dog ride with Oregon Trail of Dreams.
- Go out and greet your sled dog team, making sure to congratulate them on the fact that Bend was named the nation’s dog-friendliest city by Dog Fancy magazine.
- When the dogs begin howling, barking, and lunging with excitement (either because of the article or the upcoming journey) join in with your own giddy display of jumping and yipping, followed by a chorus of the following melody sung to the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog:”
You ain’t nothin’ but a snow dog
Runnin’ in the pow
You’re a very lucky snow dog
More snow is comin’ now
Yeah, your tail will be a waggin’
You can have Dawg Grog and chow
- After you enjoy your exciting sled dog ride, return to Bend and procure several bottles of Dawg Grog beer for dogs. Take it to your sled dog pals, along with a copy of the recent article in Costco Connection touting this amazing made-in-Bend brew.
The snowshoe snow dance
- Book a snowshoe outing with Wanderlust Tours. The night owls among you will want to check out the Moonlight & Starlight Snowshoe Tours, while those who prefer daylight will be most comfortable boogying down on one of their daily snowshoe adventures.
- While your naturalist guide drives you up the mountain sharing information about the geology and history of the area, take the opportunity to do some sharing of your own by teaching your snow dance lyrics to others on the tour.
- Enjoy your snowshoe adventure to the fullest, soaking up plenty of fresh air, gorgeous scenery, and fascinating knowledge from your naturalist guide.
- During the segment of the tour when your guide offers warm beverages to the group, extract one marshmallow from your cocoa, toss it into the air as an offering to the snow gods, and turn slowly in a circle as you sing to the tune of “My Favorite Things:”
Steep chutes and tree lines and wide open spaces
Running and jumping puts smiles on our faces
Grins from the kids make us just want to sing
These are a few of our favorite things!
- Encourage your fellow snowshoe enthusiasts to craft lyrics of their own, offering up the requisite marshmallow sacrifice with each new stanza. In accordance with Wanderlust’s commitment to leaving no trace, remember to pick up any marshmallows that go unclaimed by the snow gods.
- Return to Bend and hop on the Mt.Bachelor website to check out their upcoming promotions, including Kids Ski Free, Ski or Ride in 5 and their new #MtBachelorStoked contest where they’re giving away $15,000 in cash and prizes.
Got a snow dance of your own? We’d love to see it! Shoot an Instagram video and tag us at @visitbend, or post your video to YouTube and share it with us on the Visit Bend Facebook page.
We’ll choose a winner on Thursday, January 23 to receive two free Fat Bike rentals from fabulous Downtown Bend shop The Hub Cyclery—perfect for enjoying all that new snow!
Birthdays. Mardi Gras. The 24-hour Christmas Story marathon on TNT.
And of course, Springtacular at Mt. Bachelor.
Every year, the good folks at Mt. Bachelor give you the opportunity to get some killer deals on spring skiing. Not only do you get a great price on a pass, you get access to fabulous concerts, awesome events, and – oh yeah – one of the longest skiing/snowboarding seasons in North America.
Not a bad deal, eh?
Here are some of the highlights from this year’s Springtacular:
- Eight BONUS days of skiing or snowboarding. New this year, Bachelor is offering up some bonus days of snow play. Purchase your Springtacular pass by March 28 and you can start using it April 1. Those who wait ‘til after March 28 still get to ski, but have to wait until April 9. In other words, it pays to buy early!
- Groove to the tunes. Amazing music always goes hand-in-hand with Springtacular, and this year is no exception. On May 5, Strive Roots will be melding reggae, hard rock, funk and hip-hop. May 12, it’s local favorite Bill Keale and his unique Hawaiian vibe. May 19 will feature Quasihorse, while MOsley WOtta will steal the stage May 26 with their unique hip-hop performance. May 27 will feature the Moon Mountain Ramblers with a soulful interpretation of traditional bluegrass, jazz/swing rock and country tunes. All shows take place on Fridays from 12:30-2:30 at West Village.
- Party like it’s going out of style. The Springtacular season is chock full of parties and events that lend an element of festivity. The annual Deschutes Brewery Pine Party is slated for Friday, April 13 from 4-7 p.m., while Gerry Lopez’s Big Wave Challenge and Luau will be held Saturday, May 12. Don’t forget to check the event calendar for a complete list of cool happenings.
- Hot Dog! Are you part of a regional ski club? If so, there’s a bonus round of Springtacular fun just for you! Register at ski.com for the Springtacular Blast and enjoy an array of events centered around the ‘80s ski parody “Hot Dog” the movie. The April 5 welcome reception includes a hot tub party and live music, while the April 6 Pine Party keeps the lifts open ‘til 7 p.m. with food, live music, and tasty beverages. The April 7 “Hot Dog Day” includes a costume contest, downhill race, and finale party. For more info or to register your ski club members by the March 23 deadline, go here.
Those seeking Springtacular season passes will find the rates are quite reasonable. Prices are set at $159 for adults, $129 for teens 13-18, $99 for youth 6-12, $29 for kids 5 and under, $129 for seniors 65-69, and $99 for those over 70. You can purchase a new Springtacular pass or reactivate an old one online here.
So who else is ready for Springtacular?
Was it really only a few weeks ago we were all whining about a lack of snow in Bend? Oh, how times have changed. I’m pretty sure I’ve spent 23 of the last 24 hours shoveling the stuff off my driveway.
This is great news for the snow enthusiasts among you. I have to confess, I’m not much of a skier. That didn’t stop me from having an amazing time at Mt. Bachelor last Sunday (where, for the record, it didn’t stop snowing once in eight hours).
I’ve heard lots of buzz about cool things happening at Mt. Bachelor this winter, so I wanted to scope out a few of them for myself. Here’s the skinny:
Put an umbrella in it!
Everyone’s talking about the new “umbrella bar” near the Sunrise Lodge at Mt. Bachelor. At first, I was confused. Umbrella drinks? Like piña coladas?
Er, not exactly. The Sun Bar is an Austrian-made structure with glass walls and a retractable umbrella ceiling for sunny days. It’s one of only 20 in the United States, and seats 40 to 50 people.
It was snowing sideways the day I dropped by, so the umbrella stayed firmly in place and the heaters stayed cranked. The place was packed, but not uncomfortably so. The Sun Bar felt cozy and familiar and within five minutes, everyone around me had made friendly introductions and started chattering about bloody marys.
There’s a reason for the chatter. Bachelor has long been rumored to have the best bloody mary in town, a theory I was happy to test. WOW! Made with Mazama Infused Pepper Vodka and topped off with celery, olives, and pickled asparagus, this is by far one of the most scrumptious drinks I’ve had in a long time. It was perfect paired with their barbecue chicken sliders and a Caesar salad, and I devoured the whole thing before capping it off with a scrumptious hot drink called Chai Haze.
All in all, I was delighted with the Sun Bar, and definitely plan to return when spring skiing arrives. Maybe they’ll let me work the umbrella?
Kids ski free (and not just the little ones!)
When most businesses advertise free anything for kids, you usually check the fine print. Kids under six? Ten? Two? At Mt. Bachelor, anyone 18 and under counts as a kid. You read that right. With a parent purchase of a multi-day lift ticket, accompanying dependent kids get a free lift ticket. You need to snag the tickets online at least four days in advance, but there are no blackout dates or restrictions.
Mt. Bachelor is the only resort in North America offering such a generous promotion, so be sure to jump on it while you can. Check out the Visit Bend site for information on the special and for deals on Ski and Stay packages.
Is it fast up here, or is it just me?
Mt. Bachelor invested $3.5 million in improvements prior to this ski season, and one of the projects involved upgrades to lift systems and grooming equipment. The result? More speed!
Skyliner, Northwest, and Summit Express lifts all got new drives and motors. Bachelor also added three new grooming machines, two of which are state-of-the-art Prinoth Bison Xs that give Mt. Bachelor’s terrain builders greater control over the shape and design of park features.
All this adds up to faster lift rides, better slopes, and more fun for you.
Can I get another bloody mary to celebrate?