Silence falls upon the Deschutes Forest. The gentle sound of snow falling on Hemlock and Pine trees, and the faint scurrying of wildlife. The full moon shines brightly, accented by the clouds of an encroaching snow storm. Central Oregon is a nature-lover’s haven in both winter and summer. This is the perfect four-day road trip adventure.
Oregon is the crown jewel of the West Coast and its beauty is often overlooked for the more flashy neighbour to the south. The rugged coastline, Cascade mountains and deserts of Central Oregan make this a nature enthusiasts’ heaven.
Bend, Oregon – which has been named the best trail running spot in the United States – is (realistically) a 10-hour drive away from Vancouver and a little bit less via an Amtrak/coach combo.
The town is a quaint gateway to nature’s playground. During the winter, outdoor lovers spend their time skiing and riding on Mount Bachelor – which has had over 17 feet of snow this season. Summer boasts mountain biking in desert single track, hiking and canoeing trips.
Outside of snow sliding, there are a ton of other winter activities to experience, including tours of the many craft breweries the region is known for.
Opting for an adventure to increase our heart rates, we embarked upon a full moon snowshoe tour with Wanderlust Tours. The trip took about 3 hours and transported us onto the slopes of Mount Bachelor and through the Deschutes National Forest, which has some of the last old growth trees in the area.
Donning head lamps and our snow gear, we followed our guide through the silent forest; running in knee deep snow and learning about the subnivean world that thrives beneath the snowpack. Our group tracked animal prints in the snow, following their journey from snowy forest floor to tree well to tunnels under the snow. We learned that lichen is a great insulator and fire starter should one ever need it for winter survival. All the while, we barely noticed the -10C temperature; our bodies accustomed to the chill-to-the-bone damp cold of Vancouver.
A weekend get away from Vancouver transported us into a whole other world of frontier towns and the wild west, set against the backdrop of snowy mountain vistas. While we were 750 km from Vancouver, strangely, we didn’t feel so far away from home after all.
TOP TIPS FOR BEND:
- Affordable 1 bedroom and backpacker accommodation available at The Mill Inn, including a free breakfast that includes eggs, bacon, cereal and fresh fruit.
- For a dose of retail therapy, visit Faveur Eclectic Boutique
- Explore locally owned Between The Covers Books to find a literary treasure and grab the Poem of the Month.
- Enjoy a pint of craft beer, decently priced pub food and live music at McMenamins Old St. Francis School, which has been converted into a pub.
- Visit the nearby historical town of Sisters for a flashback to frontier life and a cheeky pint at Three Creeks Brewing
PUBLICATION: Vancouver Is Awesome