Deep in Oregon’s forests, there are opportunities to experience a true winter wonderland, the kind many people only ever see in movies. These getaways provide guests with a multitude of activities, no matter their interests. From adrenaline junkies to bookworms and for everyone in between, there are forested retreats to inspire a winter getaway.
Hemlock Butte Cabin
Let’s kick things off with a true retreat to a primitive Forest Service cabin, where guests can really get away from it all: Hemlock Butte Cabin. Situated in the Southern Cascades, this eight-person, three-story A-frame cabin, sits about two hours south of Bend. The location is so remote that all guests must complete a four-mile ski or snowshoe journey just to reach the cabin, explaining why the Forest Service recommends that all guests have some backcountry experience.
The amenities offered here are slim, and guests at a primitive cabin should pack in most supplies themselves. However, the bare-bones nature of a cabin is what draws people in year after year. For backcountry skiers, Hemlock Cabin is heaven on earth. Nearby Mount Bailey offers miles of terrain that can be explored by both downhill and cross-country skiers, including nearly 3,000 feet of vertical descent.
On the flip side, the remoteness of Forest Service cabins can create an incredibly peaceful environment. Guests may sip on tea or hot chocolate, back themselves into one of the cozy nooks the three-room cabin provides and crack open a good book. If guests haven’t experienced this kind of remoteness before, try this: walk out into the snow and be as quiet as possible while breathing deeply the mountain air. Primitive lodgings are available through the U.S. Forest Service. See fs.usda.gov.
Elk Lake Resort
For a more accessible getaway closer to home, head to Elk Lake Resort. Thirty-two miles from Bend and just past Mount Bachelor, Elk Lake is a popular getaway for locals and visitors to enjoy more amenities while maintaining a feeling of remoteness. The resort is surrounded by a snowy forest of ponderosa pines, and there are thirteen cabin rentals available for guests. During the winter, the highway to the resort is closed, making this getaway accessible by snowcat and snowmobile only.
Fans of adrenaline will love the many opportunities to explore the nearby trails and meadows from the back of a snowmobile. With more than 100 miles of trails to explore, many guests come to Elk Lake exclusively for this adventure. Elk Lake offers snowmobile rentals, so even first timers can get the chance to experience these thrills. Just be sure to bring the proper winter gear to keep warm.
For a more peaceful day of exploration, the resort offers snowshoe rentals. While this can still be a workout, the added tranquility of snowshoeing cannot be understated. Snowshoeing allows guests to immerse themselves in the environment and feel one with the stillness of nature. For any guest looking for a more relaxing stay, try out the Elk Lake Lodge bar and restaurant. Dine on rustic American fare and sip on cocktails or local brews while marveling at Mount Bachelor, South Sister and the view of of Elk Lake. See elklakeresort.net.
Cedar Bloom Farm
The furthest location from Bend is well worth the drive. About four hours southwest of town find Cedar Bloom Farms, a family run farm, campground and event venue. Located in the Illinois Valley of Southern Oregon, Cedar Bloom is a 100-acre property filled with forested land. Owners said, “We are putting the 100 acres of land into a conservation easement this Fall so that the land can never be logged or developed. This will ensure that the land will stay wild and cared for for many generations to come.”
A stay at Cedar Bloom can be ripe with adventure. The nearby Siskiyou National Forest offers plenty of hiking options and chances to explore the banks of the Rogue River. The nearby town of Cave Junction is aptly named, because guests can explore the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, a cave system discovered in 1874 that put this town on the map. Make a day trip to the Siskiyou Mountains for more winter sports and backcountry adventure.
While Cedar Bloom can provide adventure, their forte is tranquility. The available camping options are clean, cute and oh-so cozy A-frame cabins, high-quality canvas tents and a dome that overlooks the nearby river. As winter rolls around, Cedar Bloom can feel like a fairytale come to life; many guests prefer winter stays to reconnect with nature and loved ones.
No matter the getaway one picks, there will be something for everyone; a winter wonderland can provide peaceful quiet or high-adrenaline fun. Don’t miss the chance to experience these wonderlands, so check websites and book reservations early, as many spots fill up quickly.