The best things to do in Bend for March


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The best things to do in Bend for March

Ever wondered what March is like in Bend? Here’s how to grasp this quirky, magical month in our high desert oasis: Sit in your car holding a block of ice on your lap while running your air conditioner. Now set the ice aside, switch to shorts and a T-shirt, and crank up your heat to seventy-five. Feeling toasty? Now grab the ice again and—

Um, don’t really do this. Aside from wasting fossil fuels, it’s not nearly as fun as experiencing Bend’s wild weather swings firsthand in this magical month where anything goes. Where else can you ski in a snowstorm, go SUPing in shorts, snowshoe in the moonlight, and take a sun-baked hike under blue skies with just a light jacket? And the best part is that you often get it all in one weekend.

You never know what you might get in Bend when March rolls into town, except this: There is always plenty to do!

Each March, the LGBTQ+ community gathers for a weekend of activities in and around Bend.
Each March, the LGBTQ+ community gathers for a weekend of activities in and around Bend.

Who’s got Winter Pride?

June may be Pride Month on a global scale, but March brings merriment to Bend in the form of Winter PrideFest celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. 

Combining a love of the outdoors with a celebration of inclusivity, Winter PrideFest packs a weekend full of inspiring winter events, including dance parties, apres ski events, a film fest, panel discussions, and gobs of winter fun at Mt. Bachelor. In 2024, the dates are set for March 7-10, and this year’s event features an all-new Queer Comedy Night featuring renowned comedian Dana Goldberg. To scope out the schedule, find lodging deals, and book your trip, go here.

Plan ahead and book your lodging stay for the summer.
Spring break is a perfect opportunity to get the family on a trail in Bend.

Spend spring break in Bend

Even if you don’t have kids in school, it’s worth knowing when spring break falls each year. For most Oregon schools, it’s the second-to-last full week of March, making that a tricky time to find last-minute Bend lodging. But if you didn’t book 10 years ago when your eldest was in utero, you’ve still got options!

Early March is a good time to watch for cancellations and last-minute openings at your favorite Bend hotel or vacation rental. Scope out our lodging pages for ideas on Bend’s best spring break lodging.

It can take some legwork and patience to book last-minute during peak times (so says this tired Bend mom who frequently forgets to book her own family’s spring break getaway and gets saved by someone else’s eleventh-hour cancellation). Be persistent, be patient, and be really freakin’ excited when you finally do find the perfect Bend spring break spot.

Now prepare for the best spring vacation EVAH. Check this post for more info on why you should spend spring break in Bend.

A group tailgates after hitting the slopes at Mt. Bachelor ski area
Did you really spring ski if you didn’t coordinate colorful outfits with your friends?

So much to do for spring break!

The beauty of March in Bend is the ginormous array of activities available this time of year. The only trouble you’ll have is choosing which Bend itinerary to try first.

Spend your morning shredding slopes at Mt. Bachelor, then head downhill for a winter hike, followed by a mountain bike ride in the desert east of town.

Go wild in one of Bachelor’s Woodward Mountain progressive terrain parks for the first few hours of the day, then take a twirl on the ice at the Pavillion before you set out for a moonlight snowshoe adventure with Wanderlust Tours.

How about a sled dog ride at Mt. Bachelor, then regular ol’ inner tube sledding at Wanoga, then a sunset hike up Pilot Butte?

Or what about a morning of cross country skiing from the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center, some snowy fat bike riding with CogWild in the afternoon, and then a sunset round of disc golf?

If the smaller size of Hoodoo Ski Area is more your speed, they’ve got a few options not on the docket at Mt. Bachelor. Hit the Autobahn Tubing Park for a few spins down the slope, then do a little Nordic skiing on their trails. Cap it off with a bit of night skiing to squeeze the most from your day.

For the brave souls seeking something different, start with snowboarding for the first half of your day. Then hit the Bend Whitewater Park (brr!) to surf some waves before visiting a local skatepark for the ultimate three-sport adventure.

Van Henion Brewing Company is a stop along the Bend Ale Trail.
Van Henion is one of the newest stops along the Bend Ale Trail.

Ready to stretch your legs?

My FitBit says I walk 10,000 steps a day, and usually lots more. But that dips in February when my inner pouty kid gets tired of donning sixteen layers to walk the dogs. Enter March with its milder weather, sunnier skies, and my tearful gratitude for more foot-friendly travel.

Walk your way around the Bend Ale Trail this March and earn prizes for each territory you check off. If you’re on a budget or not much of a beer fan, don’t worry! There’s no purchase required, plus tons of Bend breweries now offer non-alcoholic beer

To skip the beer scene while scoring scenic in-town strolling, explore Bend’s endless urban trail system. That link will show you tons of trails requiring minimal drive time to reach, and many are paved and ADA-friendly. 

Try the Old Mill stretch of the river trail for river views, tons of wildlife, and a chance to cap off your hike with lunch in the Old Mill District. To enjoy a quieter stretch of the Deschutes, try the trail from Pioneer Park to Sawyer Park, which ambles along the west side of the river and passes the picturesque First Street Rapids. 

Pine Nursery’s wide, paved pathways provide room for families to spread out with strollers and bikes or enjoy 184-dog-free acres with a walk at Riley Ranch Nature Reserve.
If getting out of town feels more your speed, most of the hikes in this post make great picks for March. Just remember that despite warmer temps and that extra spring in your step, high-elevation trails off the Cascade Lakes Highway won’t be snow-free and accessible for another month or two.

Go for a birding walk along the river in the Old Mill District.
Go for a birding walk along the river in the Old Mill District.

Spot springtime birds and wildflowers

If you’re a fan of spring wildflowers, let me say this upfront: They look a lot different and show up much later in Bend than you might be used to. But there’s magic in the tiny desert wildflowers sprouting through soft sand and lava rock near the end of each March. 

Whether you’re hoofing it up Pilot Butte or roaming the Oregon Badlands Wilderness, keep an eye out for little blooms like bitterroot blossom, sand lilies, and dime-sized goldfields, which are often the first blooms of the season. This post from our friends at Deschutes Land Trust offers a lovely glimpse of what local wildflowers look like and how to spot them.

March also makes for great birdwatching around Central Oregon. We’ve got nine established birding trails with more than 500 species of feathered friends. From bald eagles to yellow-headed blackbirds to the western meadowlark (Oregon’s state bird), there’s a menagerie of chirpy entertainment right outside your Bend hotel or vacation rental. 

Swing by the Bend Visitor Center to grab maps and a free birdwatching guide, including the Deschutes River Corridor Birding Checklist. Then train your eagle eye on the skies, trees, and riverbanks to spot some sweet local wildlife.

Guided canoe tour in Bend, OR
As the weather warms, book a Cascade Lakes canoe tour with Wanderlust Tours.

It’s time to plan for summer

Bend’s busiest months are May through October. I know that seems far away, but if you’re planning a Bend summer vacation, get a jump on booking your Bend lodging pronto.

Even some activities like whitewater rafting and Cascade Lakes canoe tours can fill up early for peak holiday periods, so it pays to plan ahead. And don’t forget to scan the Bend concert calendar and snap up tickets for shows at the Hayden Homes Amphitheater.

Now get out there and enjoy springtime in Bend!