Snowshoeing at night is a surreal and magical experience. Headlamps weaving through a forest wonderland and snowshoes kicking up the soft powdery snow underfoot. Your destination? A hand-carved amphitheater with a bonfire set in the middle. You all starry-eyed yet? You will be! Strap in for a Bonfire on the Snow snowshoe tour, brought to you by Bend’s premier outdoor adventure guides.
Wanderlust Tours leads this beginner-friendly snow trek up to a bonfire set under the open star-soaked sky … with hot chocolate and an optional dash (or three) of hazelnut espresso vodka to warm your bones. With no light pollution, you get sky-watching bliss.
Wanderlust’s outstanding guides are naturalist experts who know and revere the land they inhabit. They’ll get you outfitted with headlamps and snowshoes, then guide you through a landscape of old- and new-growth forest, enthusiastically sharing environmental trivia. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to examine winter’s nocturnal animals via paw prints on the snow—is it a pine martin or a Sierra Nevada red fox?!
Wind your way to the impressive snow amphitheater encircling a glowing bonfire. Warm seat padding is almost as delightful as the reception you’ll receive from the friendly hosts who greet you with hot chocolate (ahem, remember they offer vodka) and locally baked cookies. Swap stories with new friends, and gaze up at the stars as your guide points out constellations, including winter’s hexagon and pyramid. Which star is really the brightest in the sky? (Hint: It’s not the North Star.) Feeling oh snow romantic? Wanderlust Tour’s next available Bonfire date is Valentine’s Day (tours run through mid-April).
BONUS BEER TOUR: Sure, you like bonfires, but you also like beer! Pair your brew with a killer view on Wanderlust’s Snowshoes, Views, and Brews tour.
STAY & EAT: There are numerous options for staying in Bend, many of which are downtown or within walking distance. A few we like: McMenamins’ Old St. Francis School is a lively locals’ favorite with a Turkish-style soaking bath, movie theater, brew pub, and multiple drinking locales, including a hidden bar found only after opening and closing a lot of doors. Oxford Hotel is upscale boutique, and the Doubletree by Hilton is family-friendly with great hospitality. For dinner, we like Zydeco’s creative menu and wine list. For breakfast, stop at Jackson’s Corner for farm fresh everything. Want après cocktails? The bar at Tim Garling’s Jackalope Grill makes a tasty signature Winter Margarita.