There is nothing more exhilarating than stepping outside and seeing icy crystals colliding like diamonds with a sunlit winter’s day. Cobalt blue sky overhead and two feet of undisturbed snow as far as your eyes can see. In Grant County, Oregon, winter starts in late November and ends in late spring. It’s long, it’s frosty, and it’s amazing.

Bring the family and the snowmobiles for a roaring good time. There are 700 miles of groomed trails, miles of ungroomed trails, numerous snow-parks with sufficient parking and easy accessibility. Treat the kids to old school sledding at the tow rope on Dixie Butte east of Prairie City or the popular local hangout at Starr Ridge on the south side of Canyon Mountain. 

But if endless miles of riding are not what you crave, come explore the solace of the season. Enjoy snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or winter bird and wildlife viewing. Swish across a wide meadow where the only sound is your skis moving above the packed snow. Stop and watch a Mule deer, turn his head, and shake the snow off his antlers before disappearing into a curtain of lodgepole pine. Listen to small creatures scurrying under the snow from one winter food stash to another. Spot a fox or a coyote crossing the path ahead of you. Bring your lunch and sit on a fallen tree beside one of the forks of the wild and wonderful John Day River in a winter-wonderland-postcard moment.

December bird count

The Grant County Bird Club and the National Audubon Society sponsor the December bird count. It’s highly recommended for birders wanting to add to their life’s bird list.

Grant County

The John Day Fossil Bed National Monument Sheep Rock Unit offers another look at the winter landscape showing off non-fossil rocks dating back 90 million years. Time stands still as you view the dusting of snow, fine as powdered sugar sprinkled by a baker’s hand, highlighting the ancient topography. There are seven hiking trails in the Sheep Rock Unit, from easy walking to challenging. 

Rent Sunshine Guard Station on the middle fork of the John Day River. It is open all year and easy to get to. It can be a cozy hideaway for two or a fun retreat for family and friends. And, It sleeps six. Step out on the porch to a magnificent kaleidoscope of stars across the dark velvet sky, breathe in. The world is yours.

If you want some downtown western hospitality, most of the small towns have an antique shop, or a general store, or a craft boutique. There are eateries, inns, and hotels. Residents take winter in stride. Roads need to be plowed. Livestock need to be fed. Kids need to get to school. Weekends are filled with community events and time-honored traditions. 

Read Also: Dickens Victorian Village

The Carrie Young Memorial Dinner and Auction supports Grant County’s senior population and is a somewhat formal affair with donated homemade desserts auctioned at the end of the night. The Timber Truckers parade celebrates everything related to logging, forest products and the hardy men and women who haul it all. Stand with visitors and locals at the Chamber of Commerce corner, sipping hot chocolate and enjoying the festivities. 

Grant County offers an abundance of fun winter activities without the worry of large crowds and waiting in long lines. Your experience will start the minute you unload your snowmobile or enter a restaurant or start a hike. Even driving with no destination in mind, enjoying the beautiful views and terrain is a pleasant experience.

Grant County’s winter uniqueness awaits you. Come for a weekend or a lifetime. Just come. It’s a magical time of year and you don’t want to miss it.