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Experience the Outdoors 

What to get the peeps who have everything: Time.

You have all the gear. Your bike, ski and kayak racks are all full, all year round. Heck, maybe you finally sprang for the Sprinter that seems increasingly to be part of the Bend starter kit. Whether that description fits you, or you're just looking for something outside-the-box to bring to your loved ones this holiday season, consider these gifts of experience for the outdoor lover on your list.

Snow Tours in the Cascades

Never been on snowshoes? Want to spend a night outdoors—in the wintertime? For those adventurers ready to take on a new snow-filled experience, Wanderlust Tours has some awesome opportunities. Wanderlust offers Moonlight & Starlight snowshoe tours, along with snowshoe tours that end with a bonfire, and even a New Year's Eve bonfire on the snow. For that next-level gift experience, consider getting your loved one a Snow Camping overnight, learning how to build a snow cave... that you then sleep in. Check out the tours at wanderlusttours.com.

Getting a gift of experience—like a snowshoeing excursion—can be a way to foster family fun. - COURTESY U.S. FOREST SERVICE- PACIFIC NORTHWEST REGION/FLICKR
  • Courtesy U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region/Flickr
  • Getting a gift of experience—like a snowshoeing excursion—can be a way to foster family fun.

Winter Sleigh Ride

For those who like to experience winter without having to exert themselves, the Winter Sleigh Rides at Sunriver Resort could be just the ticket. A team of Haflinger horses takes participants through the snowy meadows around Sunriver, with tours starting Dec. 11 and going through Jan. 2. Sleigh rides are available for Sunriver Resort guests or the general public—so make it a staycation or just come for the day. Book at sunriverresort.com/activities/winter-sleigh-rides-things-to-do

Also happening at the resort now through Jan. 2 is the Holiday Light Show at the Backyard Café & Bar.

Winter Fat Biking

Missing your time on two wheels when the flakes start to fly? Cog Wild has a cure for that. Among its many bike tours and shuttle experiences around Bend and Oakridge is its Winter Fat Bike Guided Ride. The three-hour tour includes the rental of a fat bike, snacks, drinks and an expert guide who knows where to ride in the snow. Try that experience, or book a family group ride for a fun gift of experience for the whole fam. Check out the tours at cogwild.com.

Trip with the Central Oregon Nordic Club

Want to take your Nordic skiing away from the hometown trails? The Central Oregon Nordic Club is planning several trips to various Nordic-ski areas around the region. From Jan. 31 to Feb 4, club members are headed to the Inn at Mazama in Washington's Methow Valley, followed by other trips to Montana and Crater Lake. See the club's website at conordicclub.org for more info on the trips.

Snowcats, snowmobiles and more at Elk Lake

Elk Lake is inaccessible by car in the wintertime, but it's still chock-full of fun things to do. Consider renting a snowmobile from the resort to enjoy the wintry wonderland of the area—which comes with transport to Elk Lake on a snowcat. Or, just book the snowcat to get to the lake, then rent or bring your own snowshoes to experience the back country in winter. Check out the options at elklakeresort.net.

Winter pass/Northwest Forest pass

For the gift that keeps on giving—that won't break your pocketbook—get the one thing that every local recreationalist needs, nearly every time they go out: the right pass. Those looking to ski, snowshoe, snowmobile or Nordic ski at Oregon sno-parks need the $4 day pass, the $9 four-day pass, or the $25 annual sno-park permit, available at oregondmv.com and at resorts and gear stores. To bike or hike or do other activities that require parking at a national forest parking area (which includes most places along the Cascade Lakes Highway), visitors need a Northwest Forest Pass, which costs $30 per year and is available at gear shops or forest service offices. Or, buy the interagency pass for $80, which gets you access to all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and other public lands to parking and fee areas. Find information at fs.usda.gov/visit/passes-permits/recreation-fees-passes.

Every Kid Outdoors for 4th graders

Have a kid who wants to learn about the outdoors? How does free sound? The U.S. Department of the Interior's Every Kid Outdoors program gives fourth-grade students free access to the nation's national parks, lands and waters free of charge. Kids with an Every Kid Outdoors pass can even get a free tree-cutting permit. Print out the Every Kid Outdoors pass at everykidoutdoors.gov.

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. While the pandemic reduced "hobbies" to "aspirations," you can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis. (Progress: slow.)
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