With winter upon us and snow falling in the mountains, there is an abundance of opportunities to enjoy the solitude offered by our Central Oregon backcountry. One popular winter outing is a trek to Elk Lake Resort on the Cascade Lakes Highway.
In the winter you can only drive as far as Mt. Bachelor; from there the highway is closed. But the resort is 11 miles beyond, so there are basically three ways to access it. For a fee, the resort will meet and transport you by snowcat, or you can reach it yourself by snowmobile or crosscountry skis.
Some people have even used their fat tire bikes in the winter if the snow is firmly packed, but the resort owners caution bikers to pay attention to conditions. Packed snow on the trail is much easier to navigate on a bike than fresh powder. Another consideration is the 1,500-foot difference in elevation between Mt. Bachelor and the resort. Wendy Prieve, who owns the resort along with her husband, says people who bike in invariably ask to be brought out on a snowcat because of the elevation gain.
This is the third winter the Prieves have owned the resort, and Wendy says she's excited as she watches the snow continue to pile up. Currently, they have nearly six feet and are expecting more during the holidays. Some people choose to make a day trip to the resort, while others rent one of 13 cabins and bring friends and family for longer stays. Lunch and dinner are served during the week, and breakfast is available on weekends. Snowmobiles can be rented at the resort for either a half day or a full day.
The resort will also host a New Year's Eve event that includes dinner and music by the popular local band "Strive Roots." In February, you can enjoy a special Valentine's Day dinner. While Elk Lake is easily accessed during warmer months, the solitude and beauty of winter more than make up for the extra effort it takes to reach the resort. Check Elk Lake Resort's website for a complete listing of activities and services: elklakeresort.net.