: Drake Park

Where to Play When Winter Returns to Central Oregon

March 7, 2018

My lilacs grew buds. My daffodils started poking out of the ground. I went outside with no coat and may have even donned some flip flops to run to the store. No, this wasn’t last spring, it was January 2018 in Central Oregon. Many snow sports enthusiasts had started to despair of any kind of “real winter” hitting our mountain town, but decades of living here gave me patience. I knew that my poor flowers would be frozen soon and the flip flops would be relegated to the back of the closet. Sure enough, winter is back in Central Oregon!

All told, snowfall on the mountain has been great this year. Mt Bachelor (or “the hill” as we call it) has received nearly 300 inches since October. But periodic warm, dry spells quickly set us back to spring-like conditions. So the storms we’ve been getting since mid-February have caused at least 50 percent of the population to fall “ill” and take sick day or two, as evidenced by a steady stream of traffic to Mt. Bachelor. Of course, when I called in sick I was really sick (wink).

Just some of the fun that the new snow makes possible includes:

Mt. Bachelor is the perfect place to find a run that works for varied skill levels. (Photo credit: Stirling Cobb)

Nordic skiing: On the way to the top of Mt Bachelor are two key Nordic areas: Virginia Meissner and Swampy Lakes. These are the regions of my youth, where I learned to ski at only two years old. The memories of navigating the trails with my adventurous parents (Who would take twin toddlers skiing? My mom and dad.) are still strong. Now that there is enough snow at these lower elevation areas, my twin and I are re-living our youth for some quick weekday exercise.

Snowboarding: As a lifelong skier, it was hard to trade in my sticks for a snowboard in my mid 20s. But at my husband’s insistence, I ventured into this new sport with very little ease and grace. While my heart remains with the speed and skill of my skiing career, I love to float down the hill on my board especially after new snowfall.  Of course, I keep it slow to avoid falling and take one run to my 14-year-old’s two runs. With more terrain than ever before available with the introduction of Cloud Chaser lift (4,000 skiable acres), Mt. Bachelor is the perfect place for us both to find a run that works for our widely varied skill levels.

Tubing and sledding: When I have people visit from out of town who aren’t skiers or snowboarders, we can still enjoy the snow. One of my favorite things to do with kids is the Snowblast tubing park at Mt. Bachelor. You reserve two-hour increments and, let me tell you, it is so fun. You ride in the tube up 800 feet to the top of the tubing lanes (there are six) and blast down to the bottom. It is non-stop laughs. If you can’t get a reservation or don’t want to spend money, there are many places to sled in the region, including Wanoga Snow Park.

Round out a day on the mountain with sophisticated fare at Bend’s Old Mill District.

Après ski spots: One way we made it through those days of Nordic skiing with my parents was knowing that there was a banana split waiting for us at a little café on the road down. Now, we like to round out a day on the mountain with a little more sophisticated fare, such as enjoying all that Bend’s Old Mill District has to offer. With many of its restaurants overlooking the Deschutes River, which is particularly spectacular in the snow-covered landscape, we have our pick of great places to warm up with a drink and our choice of food – ranging from seafood at Anthony’s to wood-fired pizza at Flatbread and everything in between. With lots of shops to get any gear we might need to make our snow adventures more comfortable, plus the Regal Cinemas for nighttime entertainment, it is our go-to after a day in the snow.

Winter has returned to Central Oregon, everyone. It’s time to hit the slopes!

About The

Marie Melsheimer
Marie is a 6th-generation Oregonian who traces her roots back to the Oregon Trail. When she’s not obsessing over grammar and the English language in general, she enjoys Central Oregon’s seasons with her husband, son and three dogs by embarking on a variety of outdoor activities.