Holiday escape

A few ideas for getting outside in Central Oregon during the holidays

By Beau Eastes / The Bulletin / @beastes

The Christmas break is upon us.

For 16 straight days, most Central Oregon kids are out of school.

No homework. No Tests. And on some days, no practice for area athletes.

The possibilities in this Winter Wonderland we call home — despite the recent warm weather — are endless. Here are some outdoor ideas to keep the family active and busy this holiday season:

Nordic skiing

Light on the wallet compared with alpine skiing, nordic outings are also a hit with families because of how easy it is to manage multiple skill levels. Mom, Dad and the kindergartener can putter around at their own pace while teenage skiers can test themselves on numerous loops at Mt. Bachelor’s nordic area or at Virginia Meissner Sno-park. Area shops also rent baby carriers on skis that allow parents to take the littlest of adventurers along.

Price: Ski packages typically start at $15 a day; Mt. Bachelor Nordic half-day passes are $7 for kids under 18 and $14 for adults; Virginia Meissner Sno-park and its groomed trails are free.

Alpine skiing

You do not have to break the bank to take the family to Mt. Bachelor this year. The mountain’s bunny hill and its lift, the Carrousel chair, are free to all ages. This is the perfect way to see if your preteen is interested in downhill skiing without investing in a full-day lift ticket to find out. Daily passes are not cheap — adults are $79, teens are $67 and kids ages 6-12 are $47 — but Mt. Bachelor does offer a “Kids Ski Free” program if a parent purchases at least a three-day pass. (Kids 12 and under receive a free pass for the same number of days as their parent’s pass. Note, this deal must be purchased at least four days in advance.)

Price: Ski or snowboard rentals at Mt. Bachelor during the holiday break are $34 for kids 12 and under and $40 for adults; Mt. Bachelor ski area lift passes vary depending on age and number of days skiing. Go to www.mtbachelor.com for more information.

Sledding

Whatever you use to get down the hill — toboggan, tube, or plastic/metal disc — sledding with the family can be the perfect winter-sports gateway for youngsters. Head up to Wanoga Sno-park — but make sure to have a winter snow pass — where really young ones can slide down the bottom third of the hill, while older, more daring sledders can launch themselves from the tree line. If you want to avoid the crowds, head east — way east for Bend residents — 28 miles past Prineville on U.S. Highway 26 to Marks Creek sled hill.

Price: Oregon sno-park permit is $25 for an annual pass, $9 for a three-day pass or $4 for a one-day pass.

Tubing

Sledding’s high-speed cousin, tubing is available at Mt. Bachelor, Sunriver and Hoodoo — though the latter does not currently have enough snow for operation. Tubing at Mt. Bachelor is offered in two-hour sessions that cost $17 each or $31 for a six-hour, all-day pass. Sunriver’s tube hill costs $10 for the entire day.

Websites: www.mtbachelor.com, www.sunriversharc.com.

Ice skating

Bend residents can head north to Redmond or west to Seventh Mountain Resort to get their ice-skating fix. Redmond’s 4,000-square-foot outdoor rink is free on weekday mornings — weather permitting — but skaters must have their own skates as the rink is not staffed during those hours. In the afternoon and on weekends, the entry fee is $1 and skates rent for $3. Cost of admission at Seventh Mountain Resort, which also offers private skating lessons, is $8 per person, and skate rentals are $6 per person.

Websites: Redmond Ice Skating Rink, www.raprd.org; Seventh Mountain Resort, www.seventhmountain.com

Snowshoeing

If you can walk, you can snowshoe, many rental shops like to say. Another snow sport that can be enjoyed by novices and veterans alike, snowshoeing is also relatively inexpensive — snowshoes rent for about $10 a day. Snowshoeing is great for moms or dads who want to hike with their little ones. Just throw them in the kid pack and go. Those new to the sport should check out the 4-mile Todd Lake loop that starts and ends at the Mt. Bachelor nordic area.

—Reporter: 541-383-0305; beastes@bendbulletin.com.