Visit a central Oregon park in its prime season when wildlife wanders a snowy scape and woodland trails beckon snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
From the soft snowdrifts to the lingering scent of ponderosa pine, peace pervades the winter landscape at LaPine State Park, a pristine natural area tucked into a curve of Oregon’s Deschutes River, 27 miles south of Bend. “People come here seeking solitude and quiet,” says Park Manager Joe Wanamaker. “When the snow is deep, everything gets muffled, and the sounds just disappear.”
LaPine lies in a top-notch location for winter snowfall, perched at a 4,200-foot elevation near the volcanic Cascade Range. In years when the white stuff is abundant, six ungroomed woodland trails—some on a bank 30 or 40 feet above the Deschutes, with river views—beckon snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Parts of the trout-filled Fall River, which also flows through the park, stay open for flyfishing year-round, and wildlife lovers may spot deer, coyotes, elk, beavers, and a host of raptors and waterfowl.
Overnighters can choose from year-round campsites and 10 cozy log cabins, two of them pet friendly and several accessible to campers with disabilities. All are silently watched over by Big Red, Oregon’s largest ponderosa pine at 162 feet tall and nearly 30 feet around. The tree is estimated to be more than 500 years old.
Photography courtesy Oregon Parks and Recreation Department
Also check out Bend, Ore.: Summer Adventures
This article was first published in Winter 2016. Some facts my have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.