This post includes information about our personal experience traveling to Oregon during the COVID-19 Pandemic; from what to expect to how we safely managed our stay to the best of our abilities. Once the following information is no longer needed, it’ll be removed from the post (hopefully sooner than later!)
I’m so excited to be sharing this travel guide, especially during this time as the country has slowly started to open back up safely & allowing us to enjoy past times almost as we once used to. Every year, we’ve made an effort to go out West to enjoy a taste of powder that skiing on the East Coast sadly can’t compete with. Of course with the Pandemic, our 2020 skiing adventures were halted overnight this time last year, earlier in the month when the lockdown came into effect & relatively continued throughout the following months leading to the next winter season. Needless to say, we didn’t have many expectations to travel, let alone be able to ski at all, until the vaccine rollout came into effect. Because of this, we were able to explore and enjoy what I personally might consider my new favorite state in the entire country (after NJ of course) – Oregon!
After spending two weeks in the beautiful town of Bend & enjoying 11 days straight of skiing Mount Bachelor, we never thought we’d have a better time like we did here. Granted we didn’t know what to expect – as none of us have ever been to Oregon nor have spent 90% of any trip skiing day after day – but it far exceeded any expectations we might have had, if so!
Although this post will include information regarding winter activities, there’s plenty here that will serve has a great guide for visiting Bend, OR during anytime of year! I hope you get the opportunity to experience this very special place sometime soon.
What makes Bend so unique is the architecture built around its beautiful riverfront. I saw some of the most beautiful homes here – sort of a Mountain Farmhouse vibe, with pops of Earth-tone color siding & wood beam detailing on the roofs. The town is incredibly friendly, like full of really really nice people. For someone who considers herself as one of the ‘more-kind tempered’ Jersian/ex-New Yorker around, even I was faced with moments of actively behaving stupid friendly towards anyone who smiled at me lol. It was an extremely nice change of pace & since returning home, I feel a wave of positive energy surrounding me since my pleasant 2-week exposure to the kind humans of Bend.
WHERE WE STAYED
Address: 1233 NW Ithaca Ave
We rented this amazing VRBO home called The Flaming Chicken in the River West neighborhood. Because there were 5 of us staying for two weeks total, we wanted to ensure the house we’d be staying at would allow for plenty of space to spread out – especially since all of us worked remotely throughout the trip. If you plan to travel with a handful of friends or family, I cannot recommend this house enough! It literally had everything we needed – plenty of bedroom & closet space, multiple bathrooms, (2) washer/dryers, big kitchen and table area with upgraded appliances, a gas fireplace, a deck complete with a grille and hot tub – along with things we didn’t need but appreciated the inclusion – like being pet-friendly & having a playroom set up in the basement along with a pop-up crib in the master closet.
Oh – along with a garage & parking space, complete with bikes to ride around town. Seriously, this house had EVERYTHING – even Aveeno lotion in every bathroom! I shared a complete home tour on my Instagram & saved it to my Oregon Highlight here.
The other amazing thing about this house is the location. We were within one block walking distance from the main street that had at least 10 spots to eat/drink. Although we cooked a handful of nights, we truly enjoyed the simplicity of walking 2 minutes to grab a beer or coffee whenever we felt like it. It was also a quick 12 minute walk away from the Riverfront park and Downtown/Old Bend. So many perks to this place I can’t even do it justice here!
*Obviously this house, along with its sister home right next door – The Milky Way, are built for larger parties/families. Before Thomas and I expanded our trip to include family & friends to join us, we considered a handful of smaller rental homes in the same neighborhood of River West when it was just the two of us planning to travel. I definitely think you’ll enjoy this area of Bend more than staying someplace closer to Downtown or closer to the Mountain. It’s in that perfect sweet spot, right in the middle of everything but still quiet & peaceful when it counts.
THINGS TO DO IN TOWN
Visit The Last Standing Blockbuster
Funny enough, the Netflix documentary aired the day we left for our trip. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to go to it but I happened to see it from a distance on our way to the airport from the highway! The story behind the family keeping these walls up & running was very sweet to learn about so if you get a chance to visit Bend, be sure to support with some merch purchase while there – that’s what I would’ve done.
Axe Throwing at Unofficial Logging Co.
We stumbled across this place after dinner one night & had the best time! Super friendly & informative staff, plus a fully-stocked bar right inside. Win-win-win! Although we walked-in & they happened to have availability, I recommend booking a spot in advance to ensure a fantastic time & experience.
Bike The Riverfront Park(s)
The main park in Bend surrounds a portion of the gorgeous river in the middle of town, but there are plenty of smaller parks to explore farther down within the residential streets. We came across this beautiful one called First Street Rapids Park while biking around town, only to realize it’s an enormous loop perfect for runners/walkers/bikers/hikers!
Explore Downtown/Old Bend
A hopping part of town where you’ll find the most available in terms of shops, restaurants, bars & more. We spent a few nights going to dinner or getting beers around here. Super fun!
WHERE WE DRANK + DINED
Amazing breakfast menu; highly recommend The Green Hornet Omelet & adding the homemade andouille sausage (so yummy!) Also opt for the scone instead of toast – you won’t regret it!
By far my favorite coffee spot in Bend. I spent one of my days off working here for the entire morning – something I haven’t been able to do in NJ in over a year! If you like coconut/vanilla flavors, then you MUST get The Local Girl on the coffee menu. Also the Banana Bread is out of this world & sells out quick from what I learned one afternoon.
The other coffee spot that’s equally a vibe is this one. I spent the second half of my day off working here, and the cappuccino is very delish. It’s a little quieter than Kanona which I appreciated at this point of the day. Fun Fact: This place turns into a beer spot called Boss Rambler Beer Club later in the afternoon, which we spent a few nights at when we wanted to grab a quick beer or when we were waiting for our table from another place down the street.
Delish tacos & margaritas! This place was packed every single day – clearly for a good reason. There are two locations, but we only went to the West Shop since it was a block from our house.
Such a cool spot we came across in our neighborhood, one block from the main drag. We came across it randomly while biking/running, which made it seem like a place the locals definitely hit up more! There are 4 food trucks, but our favorite was Fricken Faco – legit one of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had! The spot the trucks were parked on was called The Lot and yes, there was a fully-stocked bar on location too.
Holy moly – incredible ramen spot! I recommend going on the earlier side because this small but mighty place gets busy once the dinner hour rolls around. Still thinking about that spicy miso bowl…
This was definitely the fanciest place we went to dinner, but jeans are totally allowed here. More in terms of menu selection & the craft cocktails this yummy place offers is what makes it so worth making a reservation for. I recommend the Tuna Tartare as an app – so yum!!
In normal times this might be a hopping bar spot to Après at, but we found it more set up as a popular dinner spot that almost always had a wait. But totally worth it! You can walk next door to Boss Rambler and grab a beer until you get a text notifying your table is ready – they’re pretty quick with getting people in too. My favorites on the menu: General Tso Cauliflower, Wagyu Sliders & the Crispy Buffalo Chicken Sando.
We stumbled across this place after finding ourselves with wait times of over an hour everyplace else, but I consider it a happy & meant-to-be coincidence. This place was SO GOOD! Great burgers & beers on tap.
+ Après-Ski with Food Menus
An awesome local told me about this smaller brewery spot tucked away from the main road leading to the mountain. We loved it so much, we ensured to go back on our last day to truly close out an incredible trip. Definitely a local spot, afternoon & evening hours and closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, but on Thursday’s its local prices of $3 select drafts! Also – the pretzel with beer cheese along with the adult grilled cheese on the food menu are both out of this world. Highly highly recommend this spot above all else!
Out of all the brewery ads in Bend, I definitely say 10 Barrel’s the most. But this particular location was incredibly fun to stop by and grab a beer, considering how close it was to our house as well. Delicious beers & specialty cocktails. The pizza was pretty bomb too.
We stopped here twice – once for beers, once for beers & dinner on our last night. Although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, don’t be dissuaded to try it – it’s so worth it! I highly recommend the Peppersteak from the sandwich menu.
A little different than the local IPA/Craft brewery in Bend, but it’s a place my future Brother & Sister-in-law loved stopping by during a bike ride. We didn’t get to visit ourselves but they brought a handful of beers back to the house & they were indeed delicious.
Located right on the main river, this place definitely had the best views & scenery to enjoy a beer or two+. The food menu looked pretty amazing from what I saw as well. Best part – the metal benches outside along the building were heated! Super clutch in cold temperature situations like we were in 😀
Here are a couple places we missed but got great reviews!
Brewpub set in a former transmission repair plant with 20+ taps, bar food & a patio with fire pit.
Offshoot brewpub of well-known craft brewery offering locavore fare for lunch & dinner. Highly recommend making a reservation well in advance, as this place is super popular all the time. There’s also a Tasting Room you can visit near the main brewery, but it’s in a different part of town.
Family-run outfit offering regional specialties from Northern Thailand in a lively, warm atmosphere.
A vacated Catholic school-turned-social spot offering two bars, one restaurant, a movie theater and hotel.
A cool spot located closer to the mountain, mentioned as a great local place to grab an Après beverage.
If you ski/ride, then you’ll love this amazing mountain only 30 minutes from Bend! What’s so crazy is watching the climate change so drastically in a matter of minutes driving through The Deschutes National Forest. Within minutes of driving along this single road in the high desert, you’ll see patches of snow start taking over the landscape and ultimately transforming into a winter wonderland. Sometimes it could be 50+°F & sunny in town while on the mountain, it would be a snowy blizzard & 18°F!
The mountain itself is enormous – in fact, I’m certain there’s so much we didn’t cover despite skiing 11 days. Pretty much everything is open to be explored & skied, with the exception of the catchline boundary noted at the catwalk that encircles the base of the mountain for those tackling the East & West Bowls. From easy greens & blues, to more challenging steeper blues, to approachable yet difficult diamonds & open park slopes, Mount Bachelor has a run for every type of skier/boarder.
HOW TO GET THERE
Getting to Mt. Bach is very easy, especially from the River West neighborhood. You literally take one left around a traffic circle and continue straight around 3-4 more circles until you’re led into the Deschutes National Forest. It’s practically foolproof!
In terms of transit, I highly suggest renting a car from Redmond Airport, especially if you plan to ski more than two days/a weekend. There’s also a shuttle bus that takes you to the mountain from town, but from what I heard the morning hours are limited in terms of arriving to the mountain later than 9:30am. Having a car allows for more flexibility, especially if the conditions are not ideal first thing in the morning or end up changing mid-day. We were able to reserve FREE parking spots in The West Village Lot (7 reservations per person requesting.) All you have to do is pre-reserve in advance on the website & then download the Parking Wiz app to get your pass scanned the morning of arrival.
Note: The mountain will penalize your account if you fail to scan/cancel your reservation before 7am the day of – you get two strikes and then you’ll lose everything else you’ve booked if you commit a 3rd failed effort to scan so be sure to cancel it the moment you know you won’t be making it to the mountain. Luckily that didn’t happen to us but we were warned about it by many!
Ticket prices go up on days approaching the weekend – something to keep in mind. If you don’t have the IKON Pass, you can purchase passes online in advance to pick up at the window upon arrival to the mountain. You can also purchase mid-week, 4-day, or 12-day passes that end up saving you some $ at the end of the day. For instance, Thomas and I both bought the 12-day pass which ultimately ended up giving us a free week of skiing for the associated costs of what tickets would normally be. Just something to keep in mind if you plan to be there a while :]
On a couple occasions, almost all the lifts and parts of the mountain were on wind hold in the morning hours. Sometimes they got better quick, other times we were stuck doing bunny runs waiting for them to open. We learned our lesson and made sure to read the snow report before heading out in the morning, in case we could take our time instead of rushing. Also helps to watch the live webcams to get a better idea of what’s really going on, as the mountain is constantly changing with incoming clouds & snow flurries when not a bluebird day.
There’s one week in February & one week in March that’s Spring Break for neighboring states as well as Oregon itself. This means the traffic from Bend gets backed up BAD in the morning rush to the mountain – remember, only one road leading to it. So if you’re someone who’s eager to get there first thing, best to make sure you’re going around the last traffic circle in town BEFORE 8AM. Or you can simply wait until 10am for the traffic to calm down. That also goes for leaving the mountain in general – the rush begins around 4pm so try to get out of the lot BEFORE 4PM if you can help it. Not guaranteed but we’ve only had 2x traffic moments post-mountain the entire trip if we left after 4pm.
Also – there’s a huge Nordic Skiing Trail Map located on the opposite side of the mountain, accessed through the same West Village lot. In case any of you are Cross Country enthusiasts!
OUR FAVORITE RUNS
◆ NORTHWEST TERRITORY ◆
Sparks Lake Bowl into Sparks Lake Run
Dumps into tight trees which you can’t avoid entirely, so if uncomfortable just ski far right after bowl portion to find Osprey Way groomer
Osprey Way Bowl into Osprey Way
Steep but easiest bowl/run in NW area
Devil’s East/West Bowls into Devil’s Backbone
88% moguls – so if you hate them, you won’t like this run. Opposite for mogul enthusiasts – you’ll enjoy this one!
Snapshot into Atkesons Zoom
Second of the easier bowls/runs in NW, careful not to ski too far right unless you’re aiming to get to the Outback lift. Regardless, there’s a catwalk to get back to NW but a pain in the ass to ride if snowboarding..
◆ OUTBACK TERRITORY🔹
All the runs start as easier diamonds and empty into nice blues, mostly groomed too. The trees on either sides of these runs are more spread out and delightfully fun.
◆◆ THE SUMMIT ◆◆
There’s one groomed blue to take down & a couple steep blue bowls on the East side, but the rest are double black bowls. If you’re going to hike to the peaks of the front bowls, I suggest doing it early in the day & before you break for lunch. Can be treacherous but super exhilarating!
Pinnacles +/or Hourglass into Cirque Bowl
Cows Face into Wanoga Way
BONUS ◆◆ RUNS
You can see this smaller, steep peak from the parking lot. Catch the 10 minute hiking path up by taking either Red Shuttle into West Boundary or Ed’s Garden into Leeway. The hike up is rough but the view/run/trees it dumps into right before the main base is beyond worth the struggle to climb up for!
A local gave me the inside scoop about a short, but rarely touched section of the mountain known as Trip Nip. Walk around the Pine Marten base lodge and hike 2-3 quick minutes up to the water tower behind the building. Once at the top, you’ll find what used to be an old lift line clearing of fresh snow & small ridges. Definitely not recommended for beginners, as some of the ridges turn into fairly big air jumps at a moment’s notice.
I hope this guide serves you well if you plan to visit Bend, OR or ski Mount Bachelor in the near future! I can confidently say I will 100% be coming back, maybe next year even. It’s seriously one of the most amazing places I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting & experiencing. I just know you’ll fall in love with it too!
Related Posts You May Also Like: