Opened in 2015, the Bend Pavilion rink has partial walls to keep out the weather.

Portland is not a mecca for outdoor ice skating. Rinks are costly for cities to maintain, our closest lakes and ponds can’t be counted on, climate change is no help, and even the usual holiday pop-up rink at Orenco Station is a no-go this year due to COVID-19. But a few hours’ drive can put this picturesque winter activity within reach.

Of course, ice time is never a sure thing, dependent on weather and how CDC guidelines evolve. Masks are required, and capacities reduced. Online preregistration means you’ll need to make a plan if you want to go shoot the duck or practice your hockey stops. But more elbow room is a major perk. Downtown Redmond’s portable rink is another COVID casualty this year, but here are a few places planning on open-air skating. Of course, it’s a good idea to visit websites and call rinks before you hop in the car, to make sure you have the latest information.

Bend Pavilion

This Bend Parks & Rec facility restarts its public skate sessions December 14. This year will be less cozy—no concessions or hanging out by the fireplace—at the covered NHL-sized rink, where the rumble of traffic usually melds with modern music during curling, hockey drills, and open skate. “The community is definitely supportive,” Kevin Collier, Pavilion supervisor, said in October. “The fact that it’s an outdoor facility, with the restrictions we’re under, I think it’s a relatively safe option for people.” 

3 hours from Portland, call or visit website for opening days and hours, preregistration required, $7–10.80

Seventh Mountain

Resort Central Oregon’s oldest outdoor rink (built in the ’70s, remodeled in 2004) is nestled in the trees a short drive from downtown Bend, and it’s no wonder each season witnesses a few marriage proposals. Surrounding the 97-by-103-foot open-air oval are fire pits and the Outfitter Bar. Just before Christmas, spot Santa skating across the ice.

3.5 hours, preregistration required, $5–9

The Village at Sunriver

Skate to holiday music from Thanksgiving till Christmas (top hits take over after that), and rest up in the warming hut or by the lobby fireplace. No concessions are offered, but skaters can grab traditional Mexican at El Caporal, pizza at the Fold, craft-roasted coffee at Brewed Awakenings, and award-winning beers at Sunriver Brewing.

3.5 hours, preregistration required, $10–14

Bill Collier Community Ice Arena

On this 200-by-85-foot rink in Klamath Falls, skaters can enjoy plastic seal skate assists (sanitized between users) and Friday and Saturday night disco lights, plus a few COVID-safe concessions. February usually brings the Annual Figure Skating Spectacular, a chance to watch Grand Prix and Olympic champions (such as Alissa Czisny and Polina Edmunds) and learn from professional coaches and choreographers, but the pandemic will probably alter plans for 2021.

5 hours, preregistration required, $5–10

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