THE TOP WINTER ATTRACTIONS & EVENTS NOT TO MISS IN CENTRAL OREGON
When the thermometer drops and the snow flies, it’s time to get outside and bask in the beauty of a wintry Central Oregon — and Redmond is in the middle of it all! We’ve highlighted our favorite winter activities, recreation, and events that will keep you going until spring.
#1 OREGON WINTERFEST
Winterfest in Bend has been a tradition for as long as we can remember. Happening every February for three full days, this lively winter festival has moved to Redmond now and is the largest winter festival in the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon Winterfest has live music and concerts, a rail jam and other winter sports exhibitions, ice sculpting as well as a sprawling Wonderland Marketplace where you can shop for fine woodwork, intricate ceramics, stunning handcrafted jewelry and an abundance of other finely-honed and handcrafted goods.
Advance tickets are available at the Winterfest website (which we recommend) or at the door. Make sure to reserve your hotel and lodging for this one!
#2 ICE SKATE AT DOWNTOWN REDMOND’S ICE SKATING RINK
Twirl or race around Redmond’s outdoor ice skating rink during the winter months. The Redmond ice rink is located at the Downtown Redmond Plaza — next to the Redmond Visitor Center — in downtown Redmond. Skating is typically open from mid-December until it starts warming up again in Central Oregon.
Photo Courtesy of the City of Redmond
Hours of operation and “open status” updates can be found at the Redmond Area Parks & Recreation District website. Skate rentals with your admission is only $5. If you have your own pair of ice skates you can ice skate for free during select times and days. Plan a fun family day or night out in downtown Redmond. Families (maximum of six people who all live under one roof) can get the special family rate of $15 which includes skate rental.
Bend and Central Oregon have several other outdoor ice skating rinks to discover. The Pavilion ice rink, located near the Old Mill District, offers ice skating during the winter months as well as ice hockey and even curling. This is by far the largest ice rink in Central Oregon. Seventh Mountain Resort has an idyllic rink surrounded by a Pine forest and is quite conveniently situated next to the Outfitter Bar. The Village at Sunriver offers ice skaters an outdoor rink as well as an on-site warming hut.
#3 SKI OR SNOWBOARD A VOLCANO AT MT. BACHELOR SKI RESORT
Mt. Bachelor is the largest ski resort in Oregon and has the driest powder and the longest runs of any ski area within the Pacific Northwest. Skiers also have 360-degree access around the entire mountain and the eight high-speed quad lift chairs will get you up the mountain quicker and maximize your skiing time. Newbies to skiing or snowboarding can get their start for free on several beginner lift chairs. Play Forever Wednesdays also offer beginners an opportunity to progress their ski skills with free rides on designated lift chairs.
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Warm-up at one of Mt. Bachelor’s many restaurants and bars. They also have an outdoor food cart pod for quick bites in between runs. Try their world-famous, er, maybe just Central Oregon famous, Mazama Spicy Bloody Mary made with locally made Crater Lake Peppered Vodka.
If skiing isn’t your thing, there are several other unique winter attractions you can experience at Mt. Bachelor like sled dog rides, guided snowshoeing tours, ranger-led ski excursions, and the Snowblast Tubing Park.
Look for on-the-snow events happening all winter long and save the date for the last weekend of the season where brave skiers and snowboarders try to cross a 100-foot long pond. The costumes (and the spills, falls and plunges) are not to be missed!
#4 SKI, SNOWBOARD, OR TUBE AT THE MOST FAMILY-FRIENDLY SKI RESORT: HOODOO SKI AREA
Hoodoo Ski Resort is Central Oregon’s only ski area open for night skiing. With over 800-acres of skiable terrain and 1,000 vertical feet, this family-friendly ski area — located 35 minutes from Sisters — hosts a variety of events, including their weekly Friday Night Lights where you can gather around the bonfire and listen to a rotating line-up of live music. Kids under seven always ski for free and check out their Thursday $29 lift ticket deals for all-ages.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Hoodoo features the Autobahn Tubing Park, Nordic ski trails, and a variety of races all season long.
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#5 WINTER HIKING TRAILS
Grab your hiking boots and go for a wintry hike in Central Oregon. Our high desert environment makes it possible to hike year-round, even during the winter months. Here’s a list of our favorite winter hikes around Redmond, Oregon:
- Smith Rock State Park: Possibly one of the most photographed spots in Oregon, Smith Rock State Park’s views are phenomenal from almost every hiking trail. For a heart-pumping hike, head up Misery Ridge. You can make it a longer hike by going up and over and then around along the river trail. If you want a super workout, try the Summit Trail which features approximately 8-miles of steep climbs with spectacular views of craggy vistas. The trail meanders along the Crooked River, through Ponderosa Pines, grasslands, and rocky terrain.
- Cline Buttes: A 7.2-mile loop with some strenuous climbs to the top with no shade make this a great hike in the cooler months. Located near Eagle Crest Resort, you’ll get Cascade Mountain vistas from the top.
- Crooked River Ranch: Located within 15 minutes of Redmond, there are a number of trails that take you high above the Crooked River canyon and into the Lower Crooked River Wild & Scenic River area. Scout Camp Loop (2.2 miles), Otter Bench Trail Loop (1.7 miles) connects to the Opal Canyon Trail (5 miles).
- Steelhead Falls: Between Redmond and Crooked River Ranch, you’ll discover a number of trails fanning out from the Deschutes River canyon. Steelhead Falls is a popular waterfall on the Deschutes River. Only a short 1/2 mile walk from the parking area, you can continue south along the Foley Waters Trail to make it a longer hiking excursion.
- Alder Springs: This trail is best enjoyed in late winter and early spring because the road is closed from December – March for wildlife preservation. You’ll experience the surrounding Crooked River National Grasslands and Whychus Creek crossings. Rare plants and wildlife are plentiful along this trail. The water flow can be high in the early spring so take care if crossing the river. The access road to the parking area is very rough — we recommend 4wD or AWD with high clearance.
- Lake Billy Chinook: The Tam-a-láu Loop Hiking Trail is best enjoyed during the winter months because warmer temps coupled with no tree cover make this a toasty hiking trail in the summer. It’s a short hike straight up to the canyon rim where you can continue your hike for a 6.9-mile loop. The views of Lake Bill Chinook are amazing from here.
- The Badlands Wilderness Area in Bend: Ancient juniper trees and rock formations pepper this area east of Bend along scenic Highway 20. The mostly flat sandy trails in the Badlands take you through 1,500-year-old protected juniper trees — some of the oldest in all of Central Oregon. Dogs are welcome to be off-leash as well. You’ll find hikes ranging from 3 to over 11-miles.
#6 WINTER BIKING TRAILS
Mountain biking in Central Oregon doesn’t have to end just because the snow flies. In Redmond, there are numerous trail systems that make for epic riding during the winter months. The trails are less dusty and snow and ice are hard to find. Here are some of our favorite biking and mountain biking trails:
Find more bike trails near Redmond to pedal year-round!
#7 SNOWSHOEING AND XC SKIING TRAILS
Snowshoe or XC ski your way through Central Oregon. From Redmond, you can find nearby groomed and non-groomed cross-country ski trails as well as plenty of snowshoeing trails. Here are a few of our favorite XC skiing and snowshoe trails:
- Cline Buttes in Redmond: When Redmond gets heavy snowfall, Cline Buttes Trail is a fun trail with amazing views from the top of the buttes. As the snow melts, you can switch your cross-country skis for a mountain bike or your sturdy hiking shoes.
- Virginia Meisner in Bend: Perfectly groomed nordic ski trails with numerous warming huts to access. Take a break for lunch in a hut next to a warm fire.
- Tumalo Mountain in Bend: Tumalo Mountain, a scenic trail during winter or summer. It’s a steep climb up on snowshoes for several miles, but the views from the top are incredible. Park at Dutchman Sno-Park and ascend up from the parking lot. Some people also choose to alpine ski and snowboard down Tumalo Mountain.
- Tumalo Falls in Bend: Snowshoe or cross-country ski to see a 97-foot tall waterfall. The Tumalo Falls Day-Use Area has two trails to choose from to get to the waterfall. The Tumalo Creek Trail through the trees with babbling brook views of Tumalo Creek. Or you can opt to xc ski along the road which is closed to cars during the winter months. Your reward, a stunning view of Tumalo Falls and a fun ski down. You can continue past the falls on snowshoes, but the trail is unmarked and can be difficult to navigate. The elevation isn’t too high here so snow levels can fluctuate — this area is best after a fresh snowfall in Bend. Dogs are popular here and are free to roam off-leash and can accompany you while you ski or snowshoe.
- Three Creeks Sno-Park in Sisters: From the upper sno-park head up the trail on your skis or snowshoes. There is a designated cross-country ski trail and a designated snowshoe trail. It’s a steep climb up to the Jefferson View Shelter, but it’s worth the burn: The views of the Three Sisters and Mt. Jefferson are incredible on a clear day. You can extend your snow adventure by starting at the Lower Three Creeks Sno-Park.
- Peterson Ridge Trail System in Sisters: Some XC ski here, but snowshoeing is a better option. The Peterson Ridge Trail area is popular during the summer months for mountain biking which makes it a fun trail system to snowshoe in the winter. If the weather warms, the snow will melt quickly here. This area is also best when you have fresh snowfall in Sisters. View the Peterson Ridge Trail Map.
- Whychus Canyon Preserve in Sisters: Whychus Canyon Preserve and the Whychus Creek Trails features over 930 acres of protected land to explore and more than 7-miles of trails. Drive carefully, roads are not maintained or plowed in the winter months.
- Metolius Preserve West of Sisters: The Metolius River area features over ten miles of winter snowshoeing and cross-country skiing fun. We recommend going skiing or shoeing all the way to Suttle Lake Lodge for a warm meal and beverage inside their woodsy lodge.