If you’re an outdoor lover who likes to stay active through the winter, Bend, OR is your next must-visit destination. Escape the crowded slopes of Aspen, CO, Park City, UT, and Stowe, VT, and climb to more than 3,600 feet above sea level when you travel to this magical spot on the Eastern Cascade mountain range. In the Deschutes River Valley, both visitors and locals can enjoy the pristine winter weather and stunning views of The Three Sisters peaks in the distance.
Bend is known for its high desert weather. The snowfall is milder within the city, but the mountains are loaded with fresh powder regularly throughout the winter months. The city consists of nearly 33 square miles, and 99,000 residents are lucky enough to call it home. It’s also one of only three cities in the lower 48 states with an extinct volcano—viewable at Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint—within the city limits.
Outdoor and indoor enthusiasts will find many varied activities that will please even the most selective family members. So slip on your favorite winter coat and explore Bend’s winter wonderland.
Winter activities in Bend, Oregon
High Desert Museum, Credit: Visit Bend
Swimming, sliding & water polo
The Madras Aquatic Center (MAC) offers visitors three indoor bodies of water, a “lazy river,” and a 300-foot water slide as well as rope swings. The venue is open year-round, which is the perfect choice for those looking to stay active without setting foot in freezing outdoor temps. MAC offers swim classes, water polo, and recreational and lap swim options. The floor-to-ceiling windows display stunning panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains. What better way to enjoy daily lap workouts?
Skiing & snowboarding
Mt. Bachelor is a 4,300-acre mountain where skiers and snowboarders alike will find lift-accessible terrain and all levels of sports activity, from gentle bunny hills to black diamond paths down the mountain. In addition to snow sports, guests can take a winter hike on the Pilot Butte cinder cone. Those who want to stay on flat terrain can opt to go Nordic skiing on the area’s designated ski trails. The mountain offers an average of 462 inches of fresh snow during its November-May peak season, and it’s the highest skiable elevation in Oregon and Washington.
Sled dog rides
If you’ve ever wanted to compete in the grueling, 1,200-mile Iditarod race but the thought of training then traveling to Alaska isn’t your reality, Bend has just the tonic for you. From December through April, you can hop on a sled for an exhilarating, hour-long ride with a team of Iditarod sled dogs. Sleds can hold four people and have a 450-pound weight limit so that a family can enjoy the ride together. The truly adventurous can opt for a half-day trip of 26 miles from Mt. Bachelor to the Elk Lake Lodge for lunch before the return trip.
Sledding & tubing
After looking for a new home in the Bend real estate market, you’ll need an outlet for your stress while you wait to make a deal. Young kids and the young at heart can indulge in sledding and tubing on the gentler hills in Bend. There are designated snow parks, including the Wanoga Sno-Park, where visitors can bring their own gear—and their beloved dogs—to take part in good old-fashioned fun in the fresh snowfall. Drake and Hollinshead Parks also offer activities for families with smaller tots.
What’s more iconic in the winter than piling onto an old-fashioned sleigh for a snowy trek through the woods? A horse-drawn sleigh ride complete with lap blankets and a mug of hot chocolate, of course! One such venue to visit between December 26 through New Year’s Day is Black Butte Ranch, where carriage drivers navigate snow-covered fields amidst the Cascade mountain range for idyllic, picture-perfect views. The Bend real estate market gives you close access to these wintry activities.
Snowmobile enthusiasts can zoom along Mr. Bachelor's 250 miles of trails amongst open fields and old-growth pine trees with panoramic mountain views. Some routes even follow the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. For those who don’t own a snowmobile, Central Oregon Adventures, Inc. provides two- and four-hour snowmobile tours originating from Wanoga Sno-Park.
For nature lovers preferring to stop and smell the roses without whizzing by on skis or a snowmobile, snowshoeing in the Deschutes National Forest or other local snow-parks is a must. It’s an activity that’s ideal for all ages and most activity levels, including participants who aren’t used to fast or overly taxing winter sports.
When you’re ready to call this delightful winter wonderland your home, you’ll need an experienced local agent to help you navigate the best deal for your new home. Joe DeHart is ready to help you find the ideal West Bend real estate so you can enjoy the city’s many activities throughout all the seasons.