Powder to The People | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Powder to The People 

Winter Insider Adventure: Exploring unchartered territory on a snowy night

For the past 26 years, Wanderlust Tours has offered people in Bend, Sunriver and Sisters the opportunity to explore untraversed territory in Central Oregon. While the company offers a slew of tour opportunities, from volcanoes to craft beverage tours, one of the most unique and awe-inspiring experiences is the Snowshoe and Bonfire Tour—a part of the Wanderlust itinerary since day one.

Tour-goers take a break from snowshoeing to admire the vast beauty around them. - NATE WYETH
  • Nate Wyeth
  • Tour-goers take a break from snowshoeing to admire the vast beauty around them.

During the winter, the most exciting after-work plans typically consist of dinner and a movie. Courtney Braun, sales manager and naturalist guide for the past eight years, considers the nighttime snowshoe tours an ideal opportunity for people to get out and try something different.

"Few things compare to the peacefulness of the forest," she reflected. The night tours take about four hours total, with over two hours out on the snow. "We don't take any trails, so we forge our own paths out on the snow," Braun explained. "We do this based on the ability and the desires of the group. I would say an average trip is between 2 and 3 miles."

The same level of accommodation goes for time spent at the bonfire. While standard "fire time" is around 30 minutes, it depends on how the group is feeling. "If the vibe is more time snowshoeing, less time fire pitting... we can accommodate that!" Once adventurers reach the bonfire, they're rewarded with dessert from Sparrow Bakery and spiked hot cocoa (spiked with a generous amount of Hazelnut Espresso Vodka from Bend Distillery). Generally speaking, groups range from four to 14 people, though more can be accommodated for special events.

Sometimes additional, non-paying guests join in on the fun. Braun shared that some of the most incredible experiences she's had on the tours involved surprise visits from rare wildlife. "We see tracks and actual wildlife," she shared. Once, her tour group had the pleasure of spotting a Sierra Nevada red fox, believed to be one of the most endangered mammals in North America, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Most snow-loving Bendites are familiar with the Pine Marten Lodge, one of Mt. Bachelor's sunset dining spots. A member of the weasel family, roughly the size of a cat and covered in light and dark brown fur, the rare pine marten is typically only spotted in Europe. One clear night several winters ago, as the group sat in silence around the bonfire, admiring the stars, a pine marten emerged from the shadows to join them. "It was a pretty cool little critter," Braun remarked.

Aside from the opportunity to see rare wildlife, Braun noted that the magic of being alone and isolated—exploring uncharted territory in the dead of night—is an experience truly unlike any other.

Once they reach the bonfire, tour-goers enjoy spiked hot cocoa, treats and conversation. - BRAD BAILEY
  • Brad Bailey
  • Once they reach the bonfire, tour-goers enjoy spiked hot cocoa, treats and conversation.

"One of my favorite parts of the job is seeing the sense of goofiness—of playfulness—that people feel when they're exploring uncharted territory. When they're the first people to walk through fresh powder." Guests from all over the country join in on the tours, Braun said, leading to a balanced mix of locals and tourists—some who have never seen snow. "It's almost like a return to childhood," she said. "It's a very unique feeling. It's like being in a different world."

An educational and awe-inspiring snowshoe tour and secluded bonfire undeniably make for an unforgettable evening.

Tours begin at the end of November and go through late April, weather permitting.

Bonfire Snowshoe Tours
Select weekends starting Nov. 29, through April.
Starting at Wanderlust Tours office
61535 S. Hwy 97, Suite 13, Bend.

About The Author

Cayla Clark

Cayla graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting, soon after realizing that playwriting is not a viable career option. Fortunately, this led her to journalism, and she is thrilled to be part of such a unique and fun-loving team. Upcoming local events? Send them her way!
Pin It

More in Winter Adventure

  • Winter Insider 2019

    Winter Insider 2019

    Our special Winter Insider edition is packed with stuff to get you stoked on snow season
    • Nov 6, 2019
  • Moondog Goes Pro

    Moondog Goes Pro

    A Bendite and former U.S. Ski Team member shares his tale of landing a sponsorship—and a spot on the then-budding pro tour
    • Nov 6, 2019
  • Bachelor for Beginners

    Bachelor for Beginners

    Mt. Bachelor invests in new infrastructure to fill in the gaps for first-time skiers and snowboarders
    • Nov 6, 2019
  • 24 Hours in Bend

    24 Hours in Bend

    You're passing through Bend for a day and it's the middle of winter—what do you do?
    • Nov 6, 2019
  • Are Studded Tires Really Necessary?

    Are Studded Tires Really Necessary?

    With winter ahead, we examine whether cutting corners will lead to skidding out
    • Nov 6, 2019
  • Running In Winter

    Running In Winter

    World champ Max King offers cold-season advice on what to remember, what to look for and where to go
    • Nov 6, 2019
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Forever Young: What Science is Discovering About Aging and Longevity

Forever Young: What Science is Discovering About Aging and Longevity - Wille Hall, Coats Campus Center, COCC Bend Campus

Tue., Oct. 4, 6-7:30 p.m.
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Winter Adventure

More by Cayla Clark

  • Look Who's Talkin' Now

    Look Who's Talkin' Now

    Local pet psychic communicates with everything from cats and dogs to fish and frogs
    • Oct 14, 2020
  • What's Cookin' In Sunriver?

    What's Cookin' In Sunriver?

    Sunriver welcomes a new upscale, family-friendly pizza joint, slated to open around Thanksgiving
    • Oct 7, 2020
  • Oh, Boo. Is Halloween Canceled?

    Oh, Boo. Is Halloween Canceled?

    Local parents weigh in on a Halloween sans trick-or-treating, and spooky traditions move online
    • Oct 7, 2020
  • More »

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2022 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation