• Jake Buehner

Winter at Elk Lake Resort

With all the covid restrictions in place on restaurants and bars here in Bend, you can still find plenty of ways to spend quality time with family and friends. One way I have been doing that this winter is staycationing at Elk Lake Resort.

I may be bias, based on growing up going to this resort and spending a summer waiting tables at the lodge, but I think Elk Lake is hands down the best resort in Central Oregon. No, there is no wifi. No spa, no room service, no pool. But the rustic location and accommodations of Elk Lake really makes you feel a world away from civilization (even though it is only 45 min in summer and 1.5 hours in winter from Bend).

What To Expect

Getting There

While the resort is accessible almost year round, in the winter you can only get there via snowmobile, snowcat (SUV on snow tracks), or xc skiing. The past couple weeks we went with the snowcat transport option. Your group of 3-7 is picked up from Dutchman Flat snow park, across the street from Sunrise Lodge at Mount Bachelor Resort. From there, the snowcat takes off on the snow-covered Cascade Lakes Highway. The 50 minute ride feels like 15 as you are taking in the stunning views of Bachelor, South Sister, Broken Top Mountain, & Devils Lake.

The snowcat transport is $25 one way and $50 round trip/pp. They fill up quickly on the weekends so scheduling ahead is recommended.


I'll start by saying, if you're looking for luxury, this is not the resort for you. This is not a hotel, beach resort, or villa. The resort offers more than a dozen rustic cabins - so you can easily pick which cabin is best for your group size. While it isn't the Ritz Carlton, the resort and cabins are equipped with everything you'd possibly need for your stay.

As a general rule, the bigger the cabin, the nicer. The cabin we stayed in was the largest because our group size was 10. It had a covered balcony on both floors, a barbecue, full kitchen, 4 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms. There is no wifi so be sure to bring games, snow shoes, snowmobiles, and snacks to pass the time (or rent from the lodge).

From the balcony we watched snow fall, eagles fly, resort guests sled, and snowmobilers arrive at the lodge. It was so nice to enjoy our morning coffee and mimosas from this slice of PNW paradise.

The Lodge

Elk Lake has created an "outdoor" area to enjoy their full restaurant and bar. The covered patio is equipped with heaters and allows you and your group to enjoy their delicious menu in a comfortable and cozy setting. Out of all the places in Bend, their restaurant and bar is the most comfortable I have been to under the "outdoor-dining" covid restrictions currently in place.

My cousins and I loved hanging out here drinking winter cocktails, playing cards, and sharing appetizers. Sitting under the covered patio, you feel like you're at the North Pole taking in the views of the snow-covered lake and Mt. Bachelor.

Their biscuits & gravy and bloody mary is to die for. I've been there two weekends so far this December and I know I will be back soon!

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