Stuck in snow 6 miles above Tumalo Falls

Saturday, February 10th 2024, at 10:24 a.m., (PT), we received a request for help with an offroad recovery near Tumalo Falls, Oregon. The requester, Mathew Wright, submitted the following information: “Awd cv axel broke, and no tires spin. Might’ve lost transmission. Stuck in snow 6 miles above tumalo falls in deschutes national forest. 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe / I’m not with the vehicle.

We verified the contact information, GPS location and gathered a few more details about the situation. We submitted the request to local volunteers, and the dialog started pretty much within a few minutes. We also invited the requester to our chatroom to facilitate coordination with the local volunteers.

The conversation went on until the afternoon when volunteers and the requester finally consolidated a solid plan for an attempted recovery in the morning. The volunteers involved were David Gillan, John Stone, and Mark Williams.

Sunday morning, our volunteers traveled together with the requester and got the recovery done. By 9:20 a.m., David closed the request and a few days later he shared the following notes and photos.

We want to thank all volunteers involved, you guys rock!

Note from David

We coordinated a small group for this recovery. We got John in his Chevrolet Colorado, Mark in his Toyota Tacoma, and David in a Nissan Xterra. The best recovery time was determined to be 7 a.m. meeting at the Tumalo Falls Gate. At the Tumalo Falls Gate, we all aired down to 20 psi. Our group convoy was lead by Mark in his Tacoma, John in his Chevrolet Colorado and followed up by David in his Nissan Xterra. The road conditions were icy until the final 1/2 mile which turn to very soft snow. After arriving at the disabled Santa Fe, a few recovery plans were discussed. Mark pulled it from the snow by Winching it free. In the soft snow, John aired down to 8psi to properly position his Colorado for recovery. Using a Bubba Kinetic Rope, John pulled the Santa Fe down the hill to the Tumalo Falls Gate. Total time was just under 2 hours. 

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Offroading near the Tumalo Falls Area

Nestled in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Tumalo Falls, Oregon, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking the thrill of off-roading amidst breathtaking landscapes. Surrounded by dense forests, cascading waterfalls, and rugged terrains, this region offers a plethora of options for off-road adventurers. In this blog post, we’ll explore the diverse off-roading opportunities near Tumalo Falls that promise an adrenaline-pumping experience for both novices and seasoned off-road enthusiasts.

Tumalo Falls, Oregon
As seen from the viewpoint right next to parking lot. Taken after first light.


With a sheer plunge of 89 feet, Tumalo Falls is both the tallest and most impressive waterfall along Tumalo Creek - as well as one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the vicinity of Bend. The area around the falls was burnt in a 1979 forest fire, though like the landscape surrounding Mount St. Helens after it's devastating 1980 eruption, the forest is quickly healing. A few snags still line the hillsides along the valley but the area is green again, covered with small fir trees and not at all detracting from the splendor of the falls. A nice set of viewpoints both at the top and near the base of the falls make viewing the falls possible for nearly everyone.
Tumalo Falls, Oregon / Photo by Bonnie Moreland

Tumalo Falls Trail:
Kickstart your off-road adventure with the iconic Tumalo Falls Trail. This trail provides a blend of scenic beauty and moderate off-roading challenges. The 7.5-mile route takes you through dense pine forests, leading to the awe-inspiring Tumalo Falls. The trail is suitable for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes, offering an excellent opportunity to test your skills while enjoying the mesmerizing surroundings.

Cline Buttes Recreation Area:
For those seeking a more diverse off-road experience, the Cline Buttes Recreation Area is a must-visit destination. Just a short drive from Tumalo Falls, this expansive area boasts a network of trails catering to various skill levels. From easy trails for beginners to challenging routes for the more experienced off-roaders, Cline Buttes has it all. Keep an eye out for stunning panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains and the surrounding high desert.

Swampy Lakes Loop:
For a longer and more adventurous off-road expedition, explore the Swampy Lakes Loop. This trail system winds through the Deschutes National Forest, offering a mix of dirt roads and challenging terrains. As you navigate through dense forests and open meadows, you’ll encounter panoramic vistas and the serene Swampy Lakes. This off-road experience provides an ideal combination of technical challenges and scenic beauty.

Edison Sno-Park:
When winter blankets the region in snow, off-roading enthusiasts can still get their fix at the Edison Sno-Park. Located near Tumalo Falls, this area transforms into a winter wonderland perfect for snowmobiling and snow biking. The snowy landscape adds a new dimension to off-roading, combining the thrill of speed with the beauty of a winter wonderland.

Tips for Responsible Off-Roading:
As you embark on your off-road adventure near Tumalo Falls, it’s essential to prioritize responsible off-roading practices. Respect trail regulations, stay on designated paths, and pack out all your trash. Be mindful of wildlife and fellow outdoor enthusiasts, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the natural beauty of the area for years to come.

Tumalo Falls, Oregon, beckons off-road enthusiasts with its diverse and exciting trails. Whether you prefer the challenge of rocky terrains, the thrill of speeding through snow-covered landscapes, or the tranquility of dense forests, this region has it all. Embrace the spirit of adventure and explore the off-roading options near Tumalo Falls for an unforgettable outdoor experience.