Why Bend’s the best for a President’s Day Weekend family escape
February 9, 20247 minute read
With a summit elevation of 9,065 feet and 4,323 skiable acres, Mt. Bachelor is the 6th largest ski resort in all of North America. No wonder most folks think of downhill skiing and snowboarding in Bend when they think of Mt. Bachelor. But this iconic destination has far more to offer than just alpine skiing and snowboarding when the snow begins to fly each year.
At just a 30-40 minute drive from Bend, Mt. Bachelor is one of the most accessible points in the Cascade Mountain Range. Several massive parking areas at the mountain’s base serve visitors seeking many different types of winter activities.
North of the West Village Base Area, guests can explore miles of groomed nordic trails starting at the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center. A cross country and skate skier dream come true, with its ample network of maintained and scenic trails. Additionally, they have unrestricted access from the Common Corridor. This corridor is the entry point for those seeking snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or ski touring access to the high lakes and nearby peaks. To the south, access to several chairlifts provides an entry point to the Mt. Bachelor Alpine network, wrapping 360 degrees around the mountain.
Several other enjoyable winter activities start and end at the West Village Base Area. Each offers numerous chances to revel in the splendor of the Mt. Bachelor alpine wonderland beyond just skiing and snowboarding. The following is a list of several favorites, though this list is far from exhaustive.
Led by the legendary multi-time Iditarod competitor Rachael Scdoris, the Oregon Trail of Dreams provides thrilling sled dog rides. These rides originate from the Sunrise Base Area situated on the northeast end of Mt. Bachelor. One-hour tours on the trails around the mountain base and full-day Marathon tours are available. Full-day tours provide riders with a memorable winter wonderland experience. And they also include a delightful lunch stop at the snow-covered Elk Lake Lodge. Advanced reservations are required, and trips quickly sell out during peak holiday windows.
Based out of the USFS snowshoe hut near the Mt. Bachelor Mountain Gateway building in West Village, US Forest Service Naturalists offer free 90-minute interpretive snowshoe tours. These tours provide a distinctive perspective on wintertime ecology in the Mt. Bachelor area. They also provide valuable insights into the geological features of Central Oregon and the diverse flora and fauna found in the Deschutes National Forest. Tours are offered on weekends, mid-December through March, on a first-come, first-served basis. Snowshoes are provided, and no experience is required. Participants must be a minimum of eight years old.
Another unique interpretive experience with a US Forest Service Naturalist is a free hour-long alpine adventure. Ski or ride alongside a USFS ranger who’s an expert in winter ecology in the area. Just keep in mind that while these tours are free, you’ll need a valid lift ticket or pass, as well as skis or a snowboard, to join in the fun. Participants are asked to check in at least 10-15 minutes before the start of their tour, and reservations are not required. However, minimum competency expectations are required, with proficiency on intermediate groomed runs as the standard. Tours meet at the top of the Pine Marten Express chairlift.
When it comes to winter dining at Mt. Bachelor, there’s a range of options to satisfy everyone’s taste buds while enjoying the snowy slopes. In West Village, the Clearing Rock Bar offers daily dining and bar service, making it a great spot to unwind after a day on the mountain. For your caffeine fix, Pinnacles Cafe, located on the upper level of the West Village Lodge, serves up hot drinks every morning. At Sunrise Lodge, the Sun Bar beckons with its indoor/outdoor bar, where you can enjoy a selection of beer, wine, and cocktails while taking in the beautiful surroundings. Remember to check out the revamped Sunrise Grill menu for hearty favorites and Grab-N-Go options. And when you’re up at Pine Marten Lodge, Sparks Cafe offers quick on-mountain fare with American and Mexican-inspired specialties and breathtaking views. Whether you’re looking for a warm beverage, a satisfying meal, or a relaxing spot to recharge, Mt. Bachelor has you covered for winter dining in style.
Mt. Bachelor has hosted many incredible special events over the years, both at the mountain itself and right here in Bend. The Aprés Series, featuring live music from regional stars, happens in Brooks Plaza in Downtown Bend. Other events include big air competitions on the mountain, the annual Dirksen Dirby snowboard rally, slopeside music festivals like Rendezvan, Winter PrideFest, and even local river cleanups as a part of Mt. Bachelor’s Play Forever sustainability initiative. The production value of each is top-notch, in line with expectations of one of the premier mountain resorts in the West.
If you aren’t confident that your vehicle has the appropriate equipment for the journey up to Mt. Bachelor, or you simply don’t have much experience driving in variable winter conditions, consider the Mt. Bachelor Shuttle. Departing from the west side of Bend, the shuttle runs from opening day through the end of the season. This is an inexpensive, reliable way to get yourself and the whole crew up to the hill!
There are many amazing wintertime activities at Mt. Bachelor other than skiing or snowboarding. Please just keep in mind that this is a winter environment that often means some specialized experience and equipment in order to keep everyone safe in the often sub-freezing, slippery, and variable conditions in which assistance is less available than in the controlled environment of the city down below. If you have any questions regarding what equipment or skills might be useful for your first experience in the mountains at wintertime, please don’t hesitate to ask! Come visit us at the Bend Visitor Center in Downtown Bend and we’ll be more than happy to go over the basics with you to ensure you have a fun and safe experience.