Central Oregon truly is a winter wonderland if you are looking for things to do during the winter, especially for families.
In addition to the alpine skiing options at Mt. Bachelor and Hoodoo Ski Area, Bend offers a multitude of winter activities like snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, Nordic skiing, snowmobiling and fat bike opportunities, all fantastic and fun family outing options!
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 when 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.
*** Nordic skis and snowshoes can be rented at most local ski shops, including: Skjersaas, Pine Mountain Sports, Powderhouse Ski & Snowboard, and REI (snowshoes only)
Upper Three Creeks Sno-Park
11 miles south of the quaint town of Sisters on Forest Road 16 (Elm Street), you’ll find Upper Three Creeks Sno-Park. This park offers access to 14 miles of Nordic ski trails in the Sisters Wilderness area, several loop opportunities and space for snowmobilers to explore all day. Note sno-park permit required, and sleds are only allowed on the upper portion of Road 16.
Three Sisters Backcountry
This is the ultimate escape into the wintery wonderland of Three Sisters Wilderness! You’ll want to check out the yurt and hut trip offerings with the talented crew at Three Sisters Backcountry. Exploring the Tam McArthur rim is a favorite destination for backcountry skiers and snowboarders both local and visiting. Yurts sleep 6, and the TSB shuttles pick you up at the Upper Three Creeks Sno-Park at 9 a.m. on the first day of your trip.
Central Oregon Adventures, Inc
If you want the thrill of cruising on a snowmobile, but don’t have your own sled, no problem! These folks offer two- and four- hour tours that leave from Wanoga Sno-Park and their talented team of guides will bring you to all of the sweet spots with the best views, stopping at several snow play areas along the way. Weekend trips book up fast so plan ahead!
Elk Lake Resort
A popular day trip destination for sleds follows the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway for 11 miles out from Dutchman Flat to Elk Lake Resort. Operating on the groomed trail allows for more sightseeing, and who knows, maybe more speed! Be sure to cozy up at the lodge for a hot meal and a tasty beverage before making your way back toward Mt. Bachelor, or better yet, inquire about renting a cabin and stay overnight in the mountains.
Paulina Lake Lodge
Another favorite Central Oregon winter destination for snowmobile adventures lives in the heart of the Newberry Volcanic Monument 36 miles south east of Bend. Paulina Lake Lodge is surrounded by 200 miles of snowmobile trails. Take Highway 21 up to 10-Mile Sno-Park and then the lodge is three miles in by sled or ski. The restaurant is typically open for lunch and dinner, but reservations are required.
The Village at Sunriver
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 and kids.
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. All skaters must reserve their time slot ahead of time via the website below. Be sure to check out their themed music skates, too!
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.
Redmond Ice Rink
Nestled next to the Redmond Chamber of Commerce in the Redmond Downtown Plaza, just across the street from beautiful Centennial Park, the Ice Skating Rink welcomes people of all ages and from all corners of Central Oregon (and beyond) to enjoy the thrill of gliding cooly across the winter ice.
The City of Redmond Parks Division and the Redmond Area Parks and Recreation District partner to operate and maintain the portable ice skating rink.
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 Bicycles, Pine Mountain Sports and Sunriver Sports all rent out fat bikes and REI in the Old Mill District has them for purchase.
For more ideas on how to maximize your days in Bend check out visitbend.com!
While Meissner sno park does require a trail fee, ALL of the grooming and trail & shelter maintenance is paid for via donations. Donations can be made via the website and the blue box next to the Lodge.
Great point Lauren! We added that information to the piece, complete with a link on how to donate.