By Beau Eastes
Central Oregon truly is a winter wonderland if you are looking for things to do during the winter, especially for families – even those that don’t downhill ski.
The Bend area offers a multitude of winter activities like snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, Nordic skiing and fat bike opportunities, all fantastic and safe family outing options during the current times.
Want to really mix things up this winter? Channel your inner Jack London and bring your own pup with you on designated skijoring trails. Or we get enough snow in town, bring your Nordic skis down to the Old Mill District (see above) and enjoy the river trail in a whole new way!
Virginia Meissner Sno-Park
Probably the most popular trailhead for Nordic skiers, Meissner boasts more than 40 kilometers of groomed trails just 13 miles west of Bend, provided free to the public by the non-profit Meissner Nordic. The trailhead is equipped with a warming shelter, vault toilets and if you’re lucky, a hot chocolate cart. And when we say “free,” we mean all of the grooming and trail and shelter maintenance is paid for by donations. Want to contribute? Donations can be made via the Meissner Nordic website and the blue box next to the lodge.
Home to arguably the best sled hill in Central Oregon and designated fat bike trails, Wanoga is perfect for the non-ski crowd. That being said, Wanoga’s also allows skijoring, the underappreciated art of skiing while attached
to your dog.
If you’re into a full-throttle snow experience, Wanoga provides access to 180 miles of groomed snowmobile trails as well.
A sno-park that accommodates Nordic skiers, snowshoe adventurers and snowmobilers, Swampy has it all on its 25 miles of trails. Situated between Wanoga and Dutchman Flat Sno-Park, Swampy can make for a great starting point for an A-to-B trek if you plan ahead and figure out a shuttle option.
Edison Butte Sno-Park
Home to 24 miles of Nordic trails supported by two shelters, Edison is located a few miles south of the Sunriver cutoff on the way up to Mount Bachelor. It’s a great place to beat the crowds if Meissner and Swampy are super busy. Edison also provides access to 150 miles of snowmobile trails.
Dutchman Flat Sno-Park
Almost right next door to Mt. Bachelor Ski Area, Dutchman is extremely popular with all snow enthusiasts as it sits at 6,400 feet elevation and usually has snow even if the parks at the lower elevations are dry. Parking fills up fast, but if you can find a space you’ll be rewarded with 19 miles of Nordic trails – including a great practice oval – and more than 150 miles of snowmobile tracks.
Located at the end of Skyliners Road, 11 miles west of Bend, Skyliners serves as the trailhead for one of Central Oregon’s truly classic winter adventures, a 6.5-mile trek to Tumalo Falls. Nordic ski or snowshoe out to this 97-foot waterfall that freezes during the coldest months of the year.
(Note, all three of these rinks are planning on opening during the 2020-21 winter with various new rules and restrictions due to COVID-19.)
Village at Sunriver Ice Arena
Ice skating in Sunriver has long been a favorite activities among families. Now with a sleek new look and upgrades to the sound system, skates and viewing area, Sunriver’s ice rink is ready to entertain a whole new generation of parents
Seventh Mountain Resort
Bend’s only open air rink, this beautiful venue is located less than 10 minutes from downtown Bend on the way to Mount Bachelor. Be sure to ask about the nightly light shows as well!
Do it all – ice skate, hockey, curling – on Central Oregon’s only full NHL-sized ice surface. Covered and equipped with locker rooms, view areas and a snack bar, you’re sure to find your winter sport at Bend Park & Rec’s newest facility.
There’s no reason to quit biking in the winter with the rising popularity of fat bikes. Mountain bikes with tires up to 5 inches wide, fat bikes plow over snow with ease. Crow’s Feet, The Hub Cyclery, Hutch’s, Pine Mountain Sports and Sunriver Sports all rent out fat bikes and REI in the Old Mill District has them for purchase.