Families used to the crowds (and prices) at California ski resorts will be in heaven in Central Oregon, where Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort reigns. There are many Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort reviews for a reason! Located above Bend, Oregon (named one of our best ski towns!) along Highway 97, Mt. Bachelor now offers over 4000 skiable acres and 101 runs, with top-of-the-line amenities in multiple on-mountain lodges. While we haven’t experienced the Mt. Bachelor ski and ride school for kids, we can speak to the excellent terrain for all ages and abilities.
Tip: Mt. Bachelor is now a M.A.X. Pass ski resort, which means families can get five days of skiing here with a M.A.X. pass. These passes get you on the slopes 38 other North American ski resorts as well, all for one add-on price. We took our most recent trip to Mt. Bachelor using a M.A.X. Pass.
On busier days, and if you have pre-purchased lift tickets, opt to park at the first parking lot, Sunrise Lodge, and access the lifts directly from there. You’ll avoid the majority of the crowds, and will be in a great location to try out the new (in 2017) Cloudchaser chair, which opens up new terrain. We found the Cloudchaser terrain to be perfect for intermediate skiers and riders, with lots of fun, rolling groomers winding amid the forests. The runs are narrow, but there are lots of places where kids can explore off-piste without worrying about steep drops.
Otherwise, drive to the second parking lot at West Village Lodge for full services and amenities. Here you’ll find ski and board rentals, demos (with a friendly and knowledgeable staff), lift ticket sales, and a full snow sports gear shop. The only locker rentals are in the Mountain Gateway Building, and families will want to grab breakfast (or possibly lunch later) at the adjacent West Village lodge.
From Cloudchaser to Pine Marten, the frontside of Mt. Bachelor offers most of its beginner and intermediate terrain, with a wide variety of runs including terrain parks, moguls, and groomers. The terrain is wide-open here, making visibility easier than on the Outback side, with more tree runs. The Sunrise Lodge is a less-crowded place to break, but the best views are found at the top of the Pine Marten lift at the Pine Marten Lodge. This is also where families access the backside terrain off Outback and Northwest lifts. This region is our family’s favorite part of the mountain, with long, often-powdery black diamond runs. On powder days, advanced skiers and riders will want to traverse around the back of the mountain from the Northwest lift to drop down into seemingly endless trees (you’ll hit the access road back around to Northwest before you’re out-of-bounds.) The top of Mt. Bachelor, accessed by the Summit lift, is open only as wind conditions permit.
Mt. Bachelor is a large and imposing mountain set in the midst of the Central Oregon high desert, and as such, seems to command its own weather system. This may not be a scientific fact, but we find it to be true; always check the weather conditions, because they’re not likely to be the same as what you’re experiencing lower down the mountain at area lodging. Mt. Bachelor doesn’t offer ski-in, ski-out lodging; the closest resort is Seventh Mountain Inn approximately 15 minutes down Century Drive, with multiple other lodging options in Sunriver Resort and Bend.
Mt. Bachelor is well-known as a downhill ski resort, but families pursuing other types of winter snowsports—from snowmobiling to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing—will also find great winter recreation options at Mt. Bachelor. With a large Nordic Ski Center and three Oregon sno parks in close proximity to the resort, all snow-loving families are well taken care of.
Sno parks and free tours:
Within a few miles of Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort on Century Drive, the Wanoga, Swampy Lake, and Vista Butte sno parks all offer warming huts, trails for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and nordic skiing, and snow play areas. Because Mt. Bachelor is located within Deschutes National Forest, free ranger programs are offered at and near the ski resort. Ranger-led snowshoe tours depart from the ranger station at the parking lot of Mt. Bachelor every weekend in winter at 10 am, and are completely free (including rentals). The tours go on a one mile loop, during which rangers point out local flora and fauna. Ranger programs on skis are also available at 2 pm on weekends from the top of the Pine Martin ski lift (free, but does not include lift ticket).
Tip: Don’t forget to pick up an Oregon sno-park permit before heading up to the mountain; permits are $4 per day (also available by week or season) and are sold at Mt. Bachelor, all area snow sports shops, and the ranger station at the West Village parking lot.
Tubing and sledding:
Mt. Bachelor’s tubing park is one of the best in the state, with multiple lanes and a rope tow to take tubing families up the mountain. It’s located at the base of the West Village lodge area (use the same parking lot). Tubing tickets range from $10-27 (depending on how long you stay) and the day is divided into three tubing sessions. At the base of Century Drive near Sunriver, a community sledding hill also offers fun sledding and tubing, and it’s free (though you’ll need to get to the top of the hill on your own power).
All Mt. Bachelor-region snow sports are located along Century Drive, accessed from Highway 97 from Bend.
Photo credit: Amy Whitley and Zach Winters