By January, much of Central Oregon’s high desert is covered by a thick blanket of snow pushing many of us to order in a pizza and spend the weekend on the couch. But there is another option, a winter adventure without all the price tag of a mountain resort or all the cold of snow camping: Oregon State Park’s cabins.
Located about 30 minutes South of Bend, Oregon, La Pine State Park is a spectacular base for exploring volcanoes and forest landscape alike in summer. As winter rolls in, the rivers freeze up, trails get covered in snow and crowds scatter driving much of the park to shut down. But not everything rolls up for the season and even on the coldest days of the year, a few lone tent and RV sites remain open for the adventurous along with 10 cabins for those who want a little escape and a little comfort.
Five of La Pine’s cabins are well equipped with multiple rooms, several beds, a bathroom & shower, fridge, sink, even a propane BBQ and tv though you’ll have to bring your own DVDs, there’s no reception and no wifi around the park. These cabins are the luxury option, at least by park standards, with room for 8 (sleeping beds for 5) and run for $86 a night.
Far more my speed however are the rustic cabins just across the campground. These five buildings are nothing fancy and such are perfect for a winter escape that’s still plenty comfortable. Each has power (4 A/C outlets), lights (just one overhead) along with electric heaters that are surprisingly powerful and warm the well insulated wooden structures in just a few hours (I slept in a 55 degree, summer sleeping bag.) Two large beds, a small table and a couple chairs are about all you’ll find on the inside, just enough to sleep, eat, and play boardgames into the night.
Restrooms are centralized with showers and plenty of hot water though they are a few minutes walk away from even the closest of the cabins. Fire pits and charcoal BBQs can be found outside for those willing to endure the cold though a camping stove for morning coffee or evening hot chocolate is probably the biggest essential to bring. Coolers help as well though as much for keeping things from freezing as actually chilling them down.
With both the rustic and luxury options you are of course on your own for bedding, food and beverages. The town of La Pine (about 15 minutes) has a few restaurants, fast food joints and markets but aside but it’s a quiet location far from the big city hassles.
Far from the big city but not far from adventure that is; within a few minutes of the camp area you’ll find snowshoe friendly trails and it’s not far to the alpine back country, sno-parks or even to the ski slopes of Mount Bachelor (about 45 minutes.) Many of the local tourist stops and national monuments close down in the winter months but it’s not all that far to Crescent Lake (1 hour), Diamond Lake (90 minutes), Crater Lake (2.5 hours) and many other amazing stops. And of course, you can just kick back to enjoy a lazy weekend out of the house.
At $44 a night ($10 more for the one pet-friendly cabin), I found La Pine looking for a deal on lodging for a ski trip and unlike some of the other state park housing which can be more shelter than comfort, it was downright fun. Throw in a couple games, a few drinks, good company, and it’s a great place to spend a few days.
Learn more or book a stay at the La Pine State Park website.