By Brian Jennings
Plowing Through Powder
With an abundance of snow piling up in the mountains, one of the best ways to enjoy the winter beauty is by snowmobile. There is plenty of the white stuff, since the nearby mountains average approximately 30 feet of snowfall a year. And there is plenty to explore. The trail system around Mt. Bachelor has 288 miles of safe, groomed trails, and an additional 200 miles of trails snake through the Newberry Crater National Monument southeast of Bend. It's a great way to explore a winter wonderland that most will never experience, so be sure to take your smart phones and cameras for terrific photo ops.
A popular jumping off point to access the Mt. Bachelor trail system is the Wanoga Sno-Park, where groomed trails lead to destinations including Lava Lake and Edison Butte. Or venture further to reach Elk Lake Resort where you can enjoy a hot meal and a beverage at the Lodge. Wanoga is located near milepost 14 on Century Drive heading toward Mt. Bachelor.
Trails are groomed six days a week by volunteers of Central Oregon Snowbusters. If you don't own your own snowmobile, Central Oregon Adventures, Inc. offers a variety of rentals and tours and uses the Wanoga Sno-Park as a launching point from which you can access the many trails leading to more than 250,000 acres of winter terrain. Drivers must be at least 16 years old and hold a valid driver's license. Central Oregon Adventures also offers safety clinics for snowmobilers with an emphasis on avalanche awareness. For further information, call 541-593-8887 or check COA's website: coadventures.com/htm/snow_rentals.htm
Newberry Crater National Monument
Another popular snowmobiling outing is the Newberry Crater National Monument boasting 200 miles of trails that begin at the 10 Mile Sno-Park on Oregon Highway 21. The Sno-Park is just three miles from Paulina Lake Lodge and is the closest access point to the Lodge, which—at an elevation of 6,380 feet—is snowbound during the winter. These trails access more than 300,000 acres of quiet winter solitude and breathtaking views. Hot meals are available at the Lodge, which also has cabins for rent and Sno-Cat transportation if needed. For further information, call 541-536-2240 or check the Lodge's website: paulinalakelodge.com/winter.html
Sno-Park permits are required for all vehicles. They can be purchased at the Department of Motor Vehicles and most outdoor stores for an annual fee of $30 and $5 day permits are available at the Wanoga Sno-Park.