Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort With Kids: Endless Winter Fun

by | Jan 12, 2024 | Family Adventures

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Snow lovers rejoice! With the encroaching warmth of spring and summer, some mountains are more lucky than others. These fortunate few get to keep their snowy fun going longer. Adventurous travelers will love Mt. Bachelor in the Pacific Northwest. Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort in Central Oregon is the state’s tallest mountain and the seventh-largest ski resort in the country. Because of its lofty stature, its hills enjoy one of the longest snow seasons in the U.S. – typically from November through June.

When we visited Bend during our winter break, we found tons of fun family activities. Part of our wonderful travel memories happened on Mount Bachelor. Here are the favorites of the many things we did on Mt. Bachelor with our kids – and a few places your family can stay when you go. 

 

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Things To Do With Kids On Mt. Bachelor

Our family hadn’t gotten a chance for a snow trip in a couple of years. When I told the boys we received an invitation to visit central Oregon from the kind people in Mt. Bachelor and nearby Bend, they couldn’t wait. All I heard was one brother telling the other how much better he was at snowboarding, how he’d shred and do all the jumps. I reminded them they’d only snowboarded a handful of times and to encourage each other instead of putting each other down. Ha.

We started our trip by heading to Mt. Bachelor from Bend, where we were staying. This took about half an hour. This was our first time skiing/snowboarding in Oregon, and we couldn’t wait.

Howard and I planned to downhill ski, and the boys obviously wanted to snowboard. We carved out two days to ride the slopes during our five-day trip.

We rented a four-wheel drive in anticipation of slippery conditions. Unlike the cleared roads of Bend, snow covered the ground once we got closer to the mountain, but the drivers in Oregon could handle it. Or most could. Traffic movement was steady, but we did see a couple of icy spin-outs. 

 

Mt. Bachelor sign by snowy road - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Drifting along pretending we’re not LA drivers. © Rina Nehdar

 

Mt. Bachelor Stats

Let’s get one thing out of the way. The Pacific Northwest is the snowiest place in the world. The record for the most snowfall in a single season is held by Washington’s Mt. Baker, coming in at 1,140 inches.

Located in Deschutes National Forest and part of the Cascades Range, Mt. Bachelor, a dormant volcano, is no slouch. Measuring 9,065 ft. tall, with 4,323 skiable acres, Mt. Bachelor is the largest ski resort in Oregon.

One of the coolest features of this mountain is the unobstructed view visitors can have at the top. The Summit Lift is the one that takes guests to the very top and boasts 360-degree views. We didn’t get to take the Summit chair because it was too windy the days we went, so they had to close it. 

 

Mt. Bachelor Lifts

The Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort has 101 runs reachable by 14 chair lifts, though some of the acres of terrain are backcountry. Make sure to grab a trail map. There are 20 runs designated as green beginner slopes, 65 are marked as blue intermediate, 32 are black diamond expert trails, and six are double black diamond for the “I hope you’re really good, or you’re going down on your butt” crowd.

There are also three carpet lifts for the super beginners or kids just learning to ski or snowboard. One is reserved for those taking lessons

 

mountain resort with lifts - family things to do in Bend Oregon

A lift for every type of adventurer. © Rina Nehdar

 

Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort has good lift infrastructure with infrared machines opening for families to take their triple chair or high-speed quad by scanning lift tickets through jackets or bibs. So, no more waiting around while humans fumble for tickets to be scanned by resort staff. It really sped things along, and we barely waited for our rides.

Some of Mt. Bachelor’s lifts are favorites by those in the know. The Northwest Express has 2,000 vertical feet of vertical drop, which is the measurement between the top of the mountain and its base. This is the actual skiable terrain of this incredible mountain; however, much of that is dedicated to the black diamond runs. Other lift favorites are Summit Chair and Cloudchaser Chair, which have intermediate trails and advanced for the latter.

 

Mt. Bachelor West Village

There are three main areas where adventurers can park and spend their day: Sunrise Lodge, West Village Lodge, and the Junior Race Center. There are shuttles that serve all these spots, so families could start at one and migrate to another.

The main part of the ski area on Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort is built around the West Village Lodge. Here is where you’ll buy your lift ticket, rent any gear you’ll need, and have lunch or start your apres-ski enjoyment in the Clearing Rock Bar. This is where we spent our first day.

The parking lot is divided into sections for both cars and RVs. Yes, people can camp there. The Nordic Ski Center, where there are trails for people to snowshoe and cross-country ski, is located across the parking lot from the West Village Lodge.

 

Mt. Bachelor Rentals

We rented skis, snowboards, and boots at the West Village Lodge on Mt. Bachelor, where they sped us along through the whole process rather efficiently. 

 

ski rental area - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Speedy service, just how we like it. © Rina Nehdar

 

We were able to store our equipment there at the end of the day since we planned to come back in a couple of days, and that was golden as anyone knows who’s had to lug all that gear around and find space for it in the rental car and hotel room.

 

There are lockers to hold anything visitors don’t want to bring up on the mountain, or some people opt to leave shoes stored under the benches. 

 

man looking out snowy window - family things to do in Bend Oregon

The next step is to go outside. © Rina Nehdar

 

Downhill Skiing – Lifts Around West Village Lodge

We started with the beginner green runs to the left of the lodge because I hadn’t skied in a couple of years, and I wanted to make sure my knees, which can get testy, would cooperate. My husband Howard accompanied me on the Little Pine Lift while the boys shared a chair. I prayed they wouldn’t push each other off on the way up.  

We all started with the green Home Run and Milky Way trail runs.

The boys resisted lessons. In their heads, they were pros. This confidence served them well, as they didn’t hesitate to try new things in the snow.

 

ski run - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Steeper than it looks. © Howard Nehdar

 

We switched between the two trails until the boys got bored with the easy runs and wanted to venture to the Pine Marten Lift that serviced mostly intermediate trails. This area looked lively because it also contained much terrain of Woodward Park, which is like a skatepark covered in snow. Snowboarders there jumped off ramps, slid across rails, and twisted into half pipes. 

At this point, I felt more comfortable and thought I could take this lift, too. Let me throw in a disclaimer right here, though. Oregon judges its mountain ski runs differently than California. I’m going to say many of the beginner runs would be categorized as intermediate in California, and there were a couple of moments when, right before I went down the intermediate trails, I paused and took some deep breaths and steered my thoughts toward positive affirmations. I am strong. I will not pop my knee out of my socket, etc.

 

view from lift - family things to do in Bend Oregon

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s a ski lift. © Rina Nehdar

 

While the boys attempted jumps and rails, I tried to keep from thinking about the last time my knee popped out of its socket. It happened during the last run of the ski day, which ended with ski patrol having to take me down the mountain lying flat on a toboggan.

So, there was an enormous amount of pride in overcoming my anxiety mixed with irritation at my own limitations. Ultimately, I decided to accept where I was and enjoy the expansive snow-covered mountain views on my way down, taking in the trees sprinkled with clouds of snow.

There are some really long runs, like Thunderbird, that allow downhill skiers and snowboarders to get into their groove, stopping when they like and feeling the wind on their way down the mountain.

I was on a mountain with snow. This tied with the beach as my favorite place on Earth. This mountain had epic snow quality and surprisingly good ski conditions for the winter (which is usually too cold for my SoCal blood). Skiing really is my favorite sport.

I rewarded myself at the Pine Marten Lodge with a hot chocolate.

 

This is what’s important to know for those who aren’t experts at downhill anything. The snow is different everywhere you go. I found the snow drier in Mt. Bachelor, which seemed easier to control.

 

Downhill Skiing and Woodwork Park Terrain – Sunrise Lodge

The better place to enjoy beginner to intermediate runs, we found on our second mountain day, is at Sunrise Lodge, which is on the lower mountain, accessible from the first parking lot visitors pass on the way up the Mt. Bachelor driveway.

There are four lifts here that take intermediate and beginner snow riders to trails that will wear them out before they exhaust the courses. My favorite ended up being the Marshmallow Trail, which was served by the Sunrise Lift.

Mt. Bachelor tickets prices vary depending on the date but there a few specials to know about for the ’23-’24 ski season. Thursdays in January, February and March are $99. Also, there is a kids ski free package for 12 and under.

 

Map of Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort

map of mt. bachelor ski resort

For the visual learners @ Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort

 

Nordic Center

Adjacent to the parking lot flanking, the West Village Lodge is where families can find all the joys of slow skiing, otherwise known as cross-country or Nordic skiing. There are 35 miles of Nordic ski trails on Mt. Bachelor, boasting the longest season in North America.

 

author standing in front of nordic ski center in snow - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Enjoying the silence. © Howard Nehdar

 

Families could opt to instead go for a leisurely snow-filled stroll through the cool trails on snowshoes. The Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center rents equipment for both snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 

Armed with a map to more than nine miles of flat(ish) terrain trails, consisting of three intersecting loops, behind the Nordic Center, we encountered other snowshoers and the occasional slow-skier along the pine and cedar tree-lined paths, their evergreen needles cradling billows of powder.

 

Boys snowshoeing - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Slowwwwwing down. © Rina Nehdar

 

Our typically adrenaline-fueled boys resisted the idea of this activity the morning we set out. I was so glad I insisted they try. The surroundings soothed their central nervous system. Within the cathedral of white fringed trees, these normally wild children spoke calmly to each other and expressed sorrow when we had to finish the snow hike.

Tickets for snowshoeing are $13

 

Snow Shoe Tours

Families can sign up for a ranger-led snowshoe tour lasting about 90 minutes. Kids will not only move their bodies and be charmed by the snowdrifts, but they’ll also learn about the local wildlife and vegetation.

Rangers offer tours twice a day, December – March, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and provide snowshoes. No previous experience is necessary, but kids need to be eight or older, and no infants in carriers are allowed. No pets, either. Includes rentals, tour, hot chocolate and snacks. $59 per person.

 

Dog Sledding

Families with dreams of gliding through the Age of Winter in the fantastical world of Narnia can live out those visions by booking a dog sledding tour with Oregon Trail of Dreams, headquartered by the lower parking lot of the Sunrise Lodge on Mt. Bachelor. 

 

dogs pulling sled - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Magic. © Rina Nehdar

 

Our tour started with an informational talk from Phoebe, a seasoned guide who races the dogs when she’s not carting families through the mountains. The first thing families learn is what to do in the unlikely event the sled turns over. Try not to picture yourself as the type of parent who would recklessly endanger your poor kids as you listen to these instructions. Just think: better safe than sorry.

Once we got that out of the way, our guide, Phoebe, told us about the amazing creatures pulling our sled. The dogs are all Alaskan Huskies, bred to be the best at what their jobs require them to be as part of a dog sled team. Breeders look for strength, endurance, and friendliness to bolster their numbers. The Alaska Huskies are the result of mixing the breeds Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute. 

 

dogs in a line attached to sled - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Happy dogs pulling happy people. © Rina Nehdar

 

The dogs in the back of the line are called the wheels and have to be the strongest. The front ones guide the team. They’re smart, so they train fast and love their job. The 8 dogs mostly get along. Some are better with each other than others.

We had to get into the sled in order of size, so Howard got in first. There wasn’t an actual seat. That would generate too much weight for the dogs to be efficient. The sled we used was the same type a musher would use. It was a sheet of canvas spread tight between two blades. There was no seat. I could feel the snow when my butt sat between Howard’s legs. The company provided blankets, and even though they had already advised us to wear our snow clothes, we were grateful as we wrapped ourselves inside our cocoons.

 

family in sled - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Three peas in a sled. © Rina Nehdar

 

Kaleb and Knox sat in the other sled. As we pulled away onto the smooth track, I felt the snow sliding beneath my rear and was impressed the dogs were strong enough to pull us three adults with the contraption. Bits of snow landed on our faces as the wind carried it from the trees. The cold felt sharp but not uncomfortable. I was glad for the blankets but loved the feel of the fresh air filling my lungs like balloons rising with excitement. Trees covered by layers of snow lined our path. We glimpsed the rise of peaks in the Cascade Mountain Range. Magic. All I could think was how the kids must have felt when they first arrived in Narnia. All we heard was the sound of the sled gliding against the ice. Everything was still and peaceful.

Every time we stopped, the dogs started barking to keep going. The ride is five miles round-trip through the Three Sisters range near Mt. Bachelor. The entire experience lasted about an hour. After we finished our ride, we got to thank the dogs by feeding them fresh meat as a treat after their hard work. 

 

 

dogs on a pulling line - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Full belly rewards. © Rina Nehdar

 

The boys forged an everlasting bond with their favorite dogs that day.

Don’t look for these dogs in the summertime. They’re in Alaska practicing their favorite runs because it gets too hot in Oregon. 

 

Something Cool: The owner of Oregon Trail of Dreams is a woman named Rachel. Rachel is blind but has been racing since she was 12. The company was once owned by her and her father, but she took over.

 

Ages 3-12 are welcome with an adult. Tours start at $220 per person

 

When You Go

 

 

Getting To Mt. Bachelor From Los Angeles

United flies nonstop to Redmond Municipal Airport (RDM), which is about a 20-minute drive from the town of Bend, where you’d most likely stay. Alaska, Delta, United, and American all fly nonstop to Portland International Airport  (PDX), which is about three hours from Bend. In both cases, it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour flight from LAX. Either way, you’ll need to rent a car.

An excellent discount site for flights (and cars, hotels) is Expedia! This is where we start our research for the best deals!

 

Where To Stay Near Mt. Bachelor

Use this interactive map to choose between a private home rental or a hotel in the area you’d like to be, or read about our recommendations below!

 

 

DON’T MISS! Best Things To Do In Sunriver, Oregon On A Family Winter Holiday

 

Mt. Bachelor Village Resort

Conveniently located 19 miles from the Mt. Bachelor ski area and minutes from Old Mill District, the golf course, and downtown Bend. The Mt. Bachelor Village Resort community of private rentals gives families the comfort of space with the use of the resort’s amenities. Enjoy the outdoor pool or the children’s pool on a sunny day. Take a soak in the hot tub. Borrow a beach cruiser or eat good food at the on-site restaurant. This will be your family go-to when visiting Mt. Bachelor, one of central Oregon’s most popular destinations.

 

LOGE Bend

We stayed at the modestly priced LOGE Bend, which hosted us.

 

LOGE Bend - family things to do in Bend Oregon

Our section of the hotel rooms © Rina Nehdar

 

This is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast and an affordable family vacation. There are hammocks in the room and hooks to hang bikes. Our room had bunkbeds for the boys, and that’s perfect for kids who aren’t taller than their parents! They also have mountain bikes you can borrow and wheel around the woodsy property. The boys tried this in the snow and didn’t get very far. There are lights strung up over Adirondack chairs and firepits. There’s a community area in the lobby with board games and a coffee shop that serves snacks which is a great way to meet other travelers. Sometimes they have live music. At night it serves adult beverages and people hang out and process the excitement of their day. We enjoyed the indoor hot tub after our icy adventures. They have a seasonal outdoor pool but no indoor pool.

 

Riverbend on the Deschutes

Riverbend on the Deschutes has spacious contemporary rooms with a two minute walk to the Deschutes River. There are connecting room options and even bunk beds. This hotel has an indoor pool, a fitness center, and a restaurant and bar. Dogs are welcome at this property. Walking distance to the Old Mill District, families who stay here won’t have a lack of activities, even during downtime.

 

Sunriver Resort

Sunriver Resort is a year-round playground for families. Located minutes from both Mt. Bachelor and Bend, the resort has condos, pools, and a whole slate of family–friendly activities. There are four restaurants and bars and a full-service spa.

 

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