Snow fun, ice skating, ubiquitous beer and a world-class museum warm up the cold months in Central Oregon.
BEND, Ore. — If you’re a winter sports aficionado, you’ll love Bend. You’ll want to move there. You’ll miss it when you get home.
If you hate snow, you’ll also fall in love with Bend because it’s sunny and it’s a friendly, mellow outdoorsy place where people usually have a dog and a bike and a kayak and a snowboard and a closet of fleece jackets.
Plus, you gradually realize that you’re the most obnoxious driver in town, most stores have a jar of dog treats on the counter and the local brewpubs hire the best chefs they can find. And at certain gas stations, in a state that doesn’t trust you to pump your own gas, you can load your car with glass jugs of local draft beer.
Snow place like home
Officially, the average winter snowfall in Bend (elevation 3,625 feet) is a little under 2 feet (which falls mostly December through February) versus the 30 feet that falls on the ski slopes of Mount Bachelor (elev. 9,068), just 22 miles to the west. However, snowfall last winter was epic. When I visited in late October, people eagerly produced smartphone photos of 4-foot-long icicles hanging from gutters, and yeah, they admitted it was hard to get around for a couple of weeks. Or maybe it was six weeks. But that was unusual. Generally, there are only about five days each winter when snow makes travel difficult.
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People go west of town to ski or snowboard at Mount Bachelor or cross-country ski on miles of trails on U.S. Forest Service land. You can also whoosh away in a dog sled pulled by a pack of exuberant canines (Mount…