Snowshoeing in Bend, Oregon


Read Time

Snowshoeing in Bend, Oregon

A peaceful winter hike

Wrap yourself in a blanket of gently drifting flakes in the hidden beauty of the Deschutes National Forest, or launch yourself off a white-capped peak and into a pile of pillowy powder. For some of the best snowshoeing in Oregon, come to Bend and explore by trail or backcountry and go off-grid into a serene winter wonderland.

What makes Bend a snowshoeing haven?

It all begins with one key ingredient: snow, and plenty of it! While Bend itself receives an average of 3 feet of snow annually, the areas spanning from the city to the mountains boast a considerably higher amount. With Mt. Bachelor receiving an impressive 33 feet per year on average, the Cascade Mountains emerge as an ideal playground for winter escapades.

Discover the cornucopia of sno-parks just miles from Bend. From marked trails that wind through forests blanketed in snow to summiting peaks with breathtaking views, sno-parks offer convenient access, trails for all abilities, and beautiful landscapes. 

Got the family in tow? Snowshoeing is a fantastic family-friendly activity. The easy-going learning curve and flexible pace mean everyone, even kiddos, can easily and comfortably participate. It’s an excellent way for the entire crew to get tons of fresh air and exercise with a low-cost entry fee. 

Snowshoe rentals and tours in Bend

If you’re ready to enjoy the rhythmic crunch of snow under your feet and the crisp air on your cheeks, but don’t own a pair of snowshoes, no problem. There are several ski shops offering rentals for everyone on your list. Rentals are easy and inexpensive. Some ski shops take reservations, and some don’t, so be sure to check ahead of time. 

Snowshoeing with Wanderlust Tours in Bend, Oregon

If you want to leave the planning to someone else and get a little instruction, a snowshoe tour is the way to go. Wanderlust Tours, a nationally recognized ecotourism company based ​in Bend, takes small groups into little-known sections of the forest off of Century Drive for snowshoe tours. Their savvy naturalist guides will dazzle you with details about forest ecosystems, the history of snowshoeing, and animals you may see along the way. You might follow a pine marten’s tracks or learn how the geology of the Three Sisters has influenced the land around the mountains.

Pro Tip

Like any sport, having the right gear can make or break your experience, and that includes clothing. Wear comfortable, cotton-free layers that you can ditch in your pack or put back on as your temperature adjusts. Bring waterproof shoes and pants. If you don’t have waterproof pants, gaiters help keep your feet dry and snow-free. And remember, a warm pair of socks, gloves, a beanie, and a hot whipped cream-topped beverage is a must!

Where to go snowshoeing in Bend, Oregon

Whether you take a snowshoe tour or prefer some solo time, there are many gorgeous places to explore. 

If you head to a sno-park, you’ll need an Oregon Sno-Park Permit. This required parking pass works for all sno-parks in the state (and California and Idaho). It’s needed from November 1st through April 30th. You can purchase a daily or seasonal permit from the DMV, almost any outdoor shop, or the Bend Visitor Center. 

SNowshoeing with a view of Mt Bachelor in Bend, OR

Snowshoeing along the Cascade Lakes Highway

Meissner Sno-Park

Virginia Meissner Sno-Park includes two fantastic snowshoe-only trails that lead to warming shelters and breathtaking views. It’s a short out-and-back hike to the Nordeen Shelter, with a brief steep-ish section that’s a blast to “surf” down. You can hike to the Meissner shelter, which is a bit further but well worth it, as a loop or out-and-back. Both shelters have a cozy wood stove and magnificent mountain views on blue-bird days. Take a break, snack on something chocolaty, and enjoy the winter wonderland. Meissner is very popular among winter recreationists, and the parking lot can fill up fast. Dogs are not allowed at Meissner Sno-Park.

  • Distance: Nordeen Shelter: 1.5 miles, Meissner Shelter: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Both trails are easy to moderate and great for all abilities
  • Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required

Swampy Lakes Sno-Park

Swampy Lakes Sno-Park has two snowshoe-only trails that can easily be broken into shorter or longer loops. The Porcupine Loop is a long, but fairly easy trail that winds through snow-crowned pine forests and offers stunning views of Swampy Lakes and Telemark Butte. Although you won’t find a cozy warming shelter along the Short and Long Snowshoe Loops, you’ll discover a serene hike with fewer people, where the melodies of whistling birds accompany your journey. Dogs are not allowed at Swampy Lakes sno-park.

  • Distance: Porcupine Loop: 4 miles, Short Snowshoe Loop: 1.75 miles, Long Snowshoe Loop: 3.4 miles
  • Difficulty: Porcupine is moderate due to some elevation gain, Short and Long loops are considered easy. 
  • Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required
Snowshoeing with a dog at Edison Sno-Park near Bend, Oregon

Edison Butte Sno-Park

Edison Butte Sno-Park, located just off the Cascade Lakes Highway towards Sunriver, offers three snowshoe-only loops that take you over hilly snow-covered volcanic terrain and through towering Ponderosa Pine forests. Choose from the Snowshoe Short Loop, Long Loop, and for an all-day, more backcountry experience, the Tesla Trail. The Edison shelter is closed and will remain so for the 23/24 winter season. Dogs are allowed at Edison Sno-Park. 

  • Distance: Tesla Loop: 3.5 miles, Short Snowshoe Loop: 2.6 miles, Long Snowshoe Loop: 3.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Tesla is considered challenging, Long is moderate, and Short is easy, making it ideal for families and first-timers.
  • Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required

Wanoga Snow Play Area

Wanoga Sno-Park is fantastic for beginner snowshoers, kids, or those looking for some winter playtime with their doggo. The Northstar and Comet Snowshoe Loops are flat, short, and very easy to navigate. Wanoga offers a sledding hill, groomed fat bike trails, and nordic ski routes if you want to continue your day of play. Dogs are welcome and are often seen skijoring on the groomed Nordic ski trails.

  • Distance: 1-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required
Tumalo Falls, frozen in the winter, near Bend, OR

Snowshoeing spots around Central Oregon

Tumalo Falls

Tumalo Falls is the most incredible winter waterfall hike near Bend. Just 10 miles from town, you’ll park at the Skyliner Sno-Park—just before the closed gate. From there, you can hike along Tumalo Falls road or take the slightly more challenging route, the Tumalo Creek trail. Both trails lead you up to the striking 97-foot-tall falls. During the frigid winter months, the waterfall is hushed as it becomes enveloped in sparkling ice. Dogs are allowed.

  • Distance: Tumalo Falls Road: 5 miles out and back. Tumalo Creek trail: 6 miles out-and-back.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required at Skyliners, though there are a few parking spots near the gate that do not require a pass.

Ray Benson Sno-Park

Ray Benson Sno-Park is located just west of Sisters, Oregon, near Hoodoo Ski Area, and has several multi-use trails to choose from. The area has shelters, including one warming hut, but the South Loop leading to Brandenburg Butte Shelter and North Loop leading to the North Blowout Shelter are the more popular routes for snowshoers. When the weather’s clear, take in stunning views of Mt. Washington, Black Butte, and Three Fingered Jack. Dogs are welcome at Ray Benson Sno-Park. 

  • Distance: South Loop is 6 miles. North Loop is a 4.2 mile one-way loop.
  • Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required

Paulina Falls

Paulina Creek Falls is a popular destination for winter recreation in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. There are designated ski and snowshoe trails that wind through towering lodgepole and ponderosa pines, leading to the stunning, icy cascades of Paulina Falls and the peaceful Paulina Lake. You’ll park at the Ten Mile Sno-Park and take the Ponderosa Rim Trail (which offers a stop at Paulina Creek Falls) or Paulina View Trail. You can connect the trails and make a loop or stick to one route for an out-and-back journey. 

  • Distance: Each route is roughly 6 miles round trip.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Passes: An Oregon Sno-Park permit is required

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake, Oregon’s sole national park, promises breathtaking views and an exhilarating winter adventure for those with some extra time to spare. You’ll enter the park from the southern entrance, about 2.5 hours south of Bend. From the Rim Village, you’ll find easy hikes with fantastic lake views, like the West Caldera Rim and Discovery Point. For more challenging and longer adventures, you can continue along the West Rim Drive to explore spectacular overlooks. When you’re finished, turn around and head back to your car. Crater Lake National Park sees an average snowfall of 42 feet, making it the perfect place for hiking through a powdery wonderland. 

Be prepared for all the weather. Sun one minute, followed by wind and clouds the next. Avalanches can occur, and you should also be aware of overhanging snow cornices. Make sure you’re on solid footing when taking photos on the caldera rim.

  • Distance: West Caldera Rim is 1 mile. Discovery Point is a 2.5-mile out-and-back. 
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Passes: A National Park pass is required
Blue snowshoe blaze, as seen in Bend, OR

Tips for snowshoeing in Central Oregon

  • Avoid stepping in ski tracks. 
  • Be prepared for all kinds of weather. Central Oregon sees a lot of year-round sunshine, but winter conditions can quickly change. 
  • Don’t set out without the 10 essentials
  • Study the signage carefully to ensure you’re choosing a designated snowshoe trail. Look for the blue diamond trail blaze with the snowshoer on it. 
  • Leave No Trace: Practice responsible snowshoeing by protecting the outdoor spaces we love.
  • Have fun!