Taking on Mt. Bachelor as a Family
One Foot in the Snow …
Spring break in central Oregon can feel like two vacations for the price of one. As one parent on TripAdvisor notes, April temperatures can range from the ‘60s to below freezing on the slopes and can touch 80 down in the valleys. It’s a place where you can get “skiing and hiking, bike riding and swimming all in same week, and sometimes all in same day.” Even if you don’t plan to pack your days with that many activities, you’ll want to pack your trunk with many removable layers and footwear options. It’s a good spring break if you spend time in ski boots, hikers, and bare feet. Just a half-hour drive from Sunriver, Mt. Bachelor, and nearby scenic routes offer places to explore all these options.
Before setting out for the mountain, check the snow conditions, which can be unpredictable this time of year. The “Kids Ski Free” tickets are unfortunately all claimed this year, but there’s still a deal for April-May passes if you live in the area or are planning multiple trips. Buying online saves you $10 on all tickets, so don’t sleep on it! There are numerous options; make sure you understand them all in order to pick the best deal for your family and schedule. You can also book lessons for adults and kids, so you know in advance that everyone will have something to do at their level. The more advanced folks can do their runs while the beginners are with the instructor.
… And One in the Water!
Those days when you’re skiing in a t-shirt off-mountain may well be warm enough to swim (though lakes will surely be bracing!). From the north side of Mt. Bachelor, get on the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway for a roundabout way home that’s packed with volcanic lakes to swim in. Todd Lake is an easy hike — not highly prized for its swimming, but great for kids eager to catch frogs. Wading’s likely to be chilly past the shallows, but if your kids aren’t the fastidious type, a sunny day should give them a chance to get warm mud between their toes. Devil’s Lake is also rather shallow and muddy, Elk Lake has a more built-up resort, and Lava Lake has a campground and apparently, very tame deer. There are many more lakes further south and west, but after Lava, you’ll probably want to turn east on the NF 40 and head back to Sunriver.
There’s More to Mt. Bachelor Than Snow
But you don’t have to leave the mountain to find springtime alternatives to skiing. If snow conditions are iffy or you just want a change of pace, there are various summer activities that may be open, depending on your spring break dates. There’s mountain biking for the whole family, with many trails and ticket options, including the Sunshine Family Bike Park for newer riders. They have summer bike camps for kids, as well as a diverse fleet of rental bikes for those just exploring the sport.
Not into hurtling down trails on two wheels (or biting your nails while your kids careen past)? Then take the lift to Pine Marten Lodge for a guided hike on the short interpretive nature trail — a freebie with your lift ticket. Stick around the Lodge for a round of disc golf for a laid-back afternoon. Hardier groups can continue on up for a summit hike, but the website warns that trails above the lodge are “not patrolled; you will be hiking at your own risk.”
Grown-Up Time and Family Dining
If the adults in your crew want to get away for a tougher trail or civilized dinner with a view, childcare is available at the West Village Lodge. It serves kids six weeks to 10 years old, from Thanksgiving to April 21. There are a range of family-friendly, casual dining options on-mountain, as well as a few bars for adults-only time. Nearby Bend and Sunriver have many more options, many of which are both interesting and family-friendly, like on-trend street-food fusion spot Spork. Though the area isn’t rife with fancy grown-up dining, there are a few white-cloth places for a classy evening, like Bend’s Franco-Italian Ariana. You’ll definitely want to make a reservation, especially during spring break, as this place is reputed to create lines. After a long day on the mountain and dinner, with or without the kids, you can bet on a good night’s sleep back at Cascara Vacation Rentals!