Central Oregon Adventure Doesn’t Stop in Winter… In Fact, Many Say It Only Gets Better

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Ski Mt. Bachelor and Hoodoo, explore a sno-park, or cozy up by the fire — whatever you want to do, Central Oregon has a winter adventure for you

Winter in Central Oregon means the hot days and bustling vibe of summer give way to spectacular snow-capped peaks, bluebird days, and a less frenetic pace. Tables are just a bit easier to find at the region’s best restaurants and brewpubs. The adventures change, too. The paddleboards, river rafts, and golf clubs are replaced by skis, snowboards, snowshoes, tubes, and sleds.

The weather may change with the seasons, but Central Oregon remains a perfect getaway for those who seek adventure. Whether interested in speeding downhill at one of North America’s largest ski and snowboard resorts, exploring the Deschutes National Forest on snowshoes or skis, immersing yourself in craft beer and the region’s culinary scene, or nestling up to a warm fire with a glass of Oregon Pinot or Central Oregon brew.

Where to stay depends on what you think makes for an ideal getaway. Bend is the region’s urban and cultural hub, with the highest concentration of restaurants, breweries, and cultural activities. But from the idyllic setting of Sunriver, less than 30 minutes from the lifts of world-class Mt. Bachelor, or the quaint Old West town of Sisters, less than 30 minutes from the Hoodoo Ski Area, to Redmond’s burgeoning-yet-low-key urban center, there is a perfect spot for everyone. That goes for those on a ski trip with friends or family, or those looking for a weekend of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Some of the best winter activities and events in Central Oregon:

Skiing and snowboarding: Snowy season in the higher elevations of Central Oregon typically runs between Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. As one of the largest resorts in North America in terms of skiable terrain, Mt. Bachelor grabs a lot of the headlines. But Hoodoo Ski Area, about 20 miles west of Sisters, has been a local’s favorite for nearly a century, and still offers a down-home experience.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing: Bend, Sisters, and Sunriver offer quick, easy access to some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing areas in the Northwest. The Cascades are dotted with sno-parks, including the popular Meissner, Edison, Swampy Lakes, or Wanoga sno-parks. Or head to Mt. Bachelor and Hoodoo Ski Area, both of which have cross-country ski trail systems. For a truly unique and memorable experience, book a guided tour with an experienced guide such as Wanderlust Tours.

Snowmobiling: Central Oregon is home to a vast sledding network near Mt. Bachelor, which can be accessed via multiple sno-parks. Maintained by Moon Country Snowbusters, this network is home to more than 250 miles of regularly groomed snowmobile trails, backcountry bowls, and out-and-back destination day trips. In addition, Three Creeks Sno-Park near Sisters and 6-Mile and 10-mile sno-parks in the Newberry Crater National Monument offer hundreds of miles more of breathtaking trails to explore.

Mt. Bachelor Sled Dog Rides: Take a ride behind a real dog sled team. Stay snug and warm in the sled while the team led by professional mushers take you on an exciting adventure along snowy tree-lined trails near the slopes of Mt. Bachelor. The sled dogs offer rides beginning in December and well into April.

Ice skating: The Pavilion in Bend is the only NHL-sized ice rink in Central Oregon and offers recreational skating from November through April. Redmond’s Outdoor ice skating rink, The Village at Sunriver, and Seventh Mountain Resort are also popular places during the winter months to lace the skates up.

Tubing and sledding: Kids of all ages love sledding and tubing around Central Oregon. Two of the most popular spots include the kid-friendly Autobahn Tubing Park at Hoodoo Ski Area. Wanoga Snow Play Area Sno-Park deserves a special nod for its sledding opportunities, too. Its open hillside offers easy sledding, and the warming hut provides a cozy respite from winter’s chill.

Events: The fun never really stops in Central Oregon, and events always dot the calendar. Oregon WinterFest (Feb. 17-19) is a three-day celebration at Redmond’s Deschutes County Fairgrounds, with a light exhibit, food, libations, Wonderland Marketplace, fun run and more. Celebrate outdoor inclusivity at Winter PrideFest 2023 (March 1-5), which offers a full weekend of fun and inspiring winter events. Other annual traditions include The Sunriver Holiday Light Show (beginning in November), Central Oregon Winter Beer Festival (March 2023), and many more.

Indoor fun: If you want to avoid the chill altogether, Central Oregon has plenty of indoor fun to offer, too. Hotspots over the summer, such as the award-winning High Desert Museum, Sunriver Nature Center and Oregon Observatory, and The Museum at Warm Springs, are open to visitors all winter long. You can catch a movie in a truly fun and unusual setting at the Old St. Francis Theater – McMenamins or a show at Tower Theatre, both in downtown Bend. Or have some family fun at Walt Reilly’s in Bend.

To learn more, visit visitcentraloregon.com.

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