Deschutes National Forest

At a base elevation of 6,300 feet, Mt. Bachelor, located just outside of Bend in Central Oregon, offers a 3,365 vertical foot drop, 3,683 skiable acres, 71 runs and averages 370 inches of its famous dry snow each year. It has a beginner program and several fun runs for those just starting out as well as lots of really fun activities like tubing and snowshoeing. For a great weekend getaway of snowy amusement this is one great place to visit.

Mt Bachelor is located in the Deschutes National Forest and sits atop a shield volcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc and the Cascade Mountain range, but no need to worry as the last volcanic eruption happened over 8,000 years ago.

Today the entire cone of Mt. Bachelor is the famous ski area that offers endless long, windy, curvy runs that seem to go on and on. In fact the longest run is just over 1.5 miles. For more advanced skiers, check out one of the many black diamond chutes which offer up some real vertical thrills.

And if you are into snowboarding Mt. Bachelor won't disappoint; Slopestyle park, located beside the pipe below Pine Martin Express has the largest features on the mountain offering challenging rails, a 65-foot table top, 45-foot step down and more. For those looking for less extreme action check out I-5 Park; a mile long park covering 1200 vertical feet. Just starting out? Then head to Sunshine Park, where the features are small; five to 15-feet and offer a place to sharpen skills and try some new jumps. And check out one of the many bowls - all blues and blacks- such as local favorite Glade-iater located at the top of the Stella six-pack.

While Mt. Bachelor knows how to serve up some top-notch downhill thrills, they also offer really cool alternative adventures including tubing, snowshoeing and dogsled rides.

At Snowblast tubing park, grab a big round inflatable inner tube and hook onto the tow, relax and enjoy watching other tubers propel down as you are pulled up the hill. Once unhooked pick one of the groomed hills, center yourself in the tube and push off for the 800-foot ride down. The ride is addictive, and most likely you will run and not walk back to the tow bar over and over again.

For a no experience necessary snow adventure try the free 90-minute interpretive snowshoe tour led by a US Forest Service Naturalist. Learn about the winter ecology and geology of Central Oregon, the Deschutes National Forest watershed and the plants and animals found throughout the area during this walk that averages between one and one-and-a-half miles. Snowshoes are even provided free of charge.

For a unique experience, try the Trail of Dreams Sled Dog Ride. Get bundled up and cozy in the Iditarod Dog Sled as your musher and dog sled team take you on a scenic ride with amazing views as you glide through the snow.

Beyond Mt Bachelor's abundance of activities, the Deschutes National Forest offers plenty of other locations to check out for sledding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.

For a totally fun sledding experience head to Wanoga Sno-Play area at milepost 15 on Highway 46 and veer left after entering to find a nice wide hill perfect for sledding. You'll need to bring your own sled or tube, but this is great hill for both kids and adults. A bit more tame than Slopestyle park at Mt. Bachelor, this hill still brings plenty of smiles as you whiz your way down. For snowmobiling options simply head right at the entrance to Wanoga where you will find a rental area and miles and miles of open area to zoom around in.

For snowshoeing and cross-country skiing head to milepost 14 on Highway 46 and the Virginia Meissner Sno-Park turn off. Meissner was an Oregon native, who taught cross-country skiing for many years. Several of the area's 30 kilometers of groomed trails are named after local native plants, making for a fun way to learn about local horticulture. The area also offers a warming hut- a perfect spot to enjoy lunch or a snack or just to relax and defrost from the cold.

Whether you choose to ski or board on the mountain or opt for a do it yourself experience at one of the many locations off highway 46, the Deschutes National Forest will not disappoint anyone looking for some time in this scenic and snowy winter destination.

All photos provided by Alexa Meisler

By Alexa Meisler