Western Snow Sports: Oregon Ski Areas

Ski season never ends in Oregon

By Peter Schroeder

Never say summer! In Oregon, ski season never ends. Home to North America’s longest ski season as well as the largest night-skiing area, Oregon features ski areas that range from family hills with surface tows to elegant resorts with high-speed quads and six-person lifts.

The state’s most popular ski resorts lie on the flanks of the Cascade Mountains that run up the middle of the state north from the California border straight to the Columbia River.

Many value-oriented winter sports centers are also found in lesser-known ranges such as the Siskiyou, Warner, Blue and Wallowa Mountains.

In the northeastern corner of the state is Anthony Lakes, located in the Elkhorn Range of the Blue Mountains. The resort enjoys dumps of light, dry powder when other ski areas are cranking up their snowmaking — thanks to its inland location and the highest base elevation in Oregon (7,100 feet).

Its modern Nordic Center with 40 kilometers of groomed trails is being expanded under a new manager with additional offerings for gliders, skaters and snowshoers. Cat skiing is offered on 2,000 acres adjacent to the ski area.

At the top of Santiam Pass, Hoodoo is Oregon’s most centrally located ski area. It’s also one of only a few ski areas in the country that offers airboarding and snowbiking along with skiing and boarding. The lift-served Autobahn Tubing Park, one of the largest of its kind in the country, offers gravity-fueled excitement on more than a dozen 800-foot runs.

Because it’s community owned, Mount Ashland in the southern part of the state, offers some of the lowest tickets and lesson prices in the business. Last summer the U.S. Forest Service gave final approval for the ski area to embark upon its plans for build-out and expansion. Twilight skiing is offered on Thursdays and Fridays from 3 to 9 p.m.

Mount Bachelor is living up to his destination reputation by spending $3.5 million for improvements to its high-speed chairlifts, three new grooming machines, upgrades to the food service at on-mountain lodges, renovations of the three dining areas in the Pine Marten Lodge, a new fleet of Burton rental and demo snowboards, and converting to solar energy to power the Carrousel beginner lift.

The largest ski resort in the Cascade range, Mount Bachelor, a destination resort near Bend, features five terrain parks, two half pipes, 56 kilometers of groomed and tracked cross country trails, snowshoeing, tubing and sled dog rides.

Mount Hood Meadows is constructing its first new lift since 2005. Stadium, one of the original double lifts, is being replaced with the ski area’s sixth high-speed quad. The bottom terminal, relocated nearer the North Lodge, allows for restoration of 1.5 acres of wetlands and has been re-contoured to improve ease of loading. The top terminal is positioned higher on the mountain, accesses more skiable terrain and allows direct entry to the North side slopes. Besides nearly doubling uphill loading capacity, the heavier lift is less subject to wind-holds than the older lift. Thanks to a grant from the National Ski Areas Association, guests can hydrate themselves at new water-bottle filling stations.

No more walking up the hill in ski boots and gear to the Multipor Lodge! Mount Hood Skibowl has installed a 500-foot conveyer lift to transport guests uphill to the lodge, providing easy access to the eastside lifts and Tube Hill. The tubing area at Skibowl East, open weekends and holidays, has been expanded with more lanes and the addition of Cosmic Tubing on Saturday nights.

Skibowl claims to be America’s largest night ski area with 40 trails illuminated, including the three-mile Skyline Trail and two terrain parks. Helping to solidify this ranking, more lights have been added at the top of the lower bowl chair lift.

Spout Springs, the oldest continuously operating ski area in Oregon, flies the Olympic Flag after it served as the Nordic training center for the U.S. Olympic team and the Norwegian jump team in the late 1960s. The ski area, located in northeast Oregon, offers day lift tickets for $32.

Top: Snow-covered Timberline Lodge sits under a dreamy Mt. Hood. Photo courtesy of Timberline. Above: Conway’s Freestyle Terrain Park at Timberline gets lots of use. Photo courtesy of Timberline

Timberline has received more than $4 million dollars in federal stimulus funds to pave the parking lot and modernize lodge. Work is scheduled to be completed for the upcoming winter season. Timberline is the only ski area in North America that’s open 12 months of the year, which makes it ideal for ski team training.

Dine or stay overnight at historic Timberline Lodge, a classic WPA-era lodge and National Historic Landmark complete with two resident St. Bernards: Bruno and Heidi. The Mt. Hood Fusion Pass offers unrestricted lift access at both Timberline and Mt. Hood Skibowl.

Willamette Pass, home of Oregon’s first six-passenger high-speed lift (the “Eagle Peak Accelerator”), exchanges the six-pack chairs in winter for gondola cars in summer. Show up on most Tuesdays and you’ll get two-for-the-price-of-one adult lift tickets and rentals. Willamette offers snowtubing and 20 kilometers of Nordic trails.

Oregon Resorts

Ski Oregon – www.SkiOregon.org

Anthony Lakes – www.anthonylakes.com

Cooper Spur – www.cooperspur.com

Hoodoo – www.hoodoo.com

Mount Ashland – www.mtashland.com

Mount Bachelor – www.mtbachelor.com

Mount Hood Meadows – www.mthoodmeadows.com

Mount Hood Skibowl – www.skibowl.com

Spout Springs – www.spoutspringsskiresort.com

Timberline – www.timberlinelodge.com

Willamette Pass – www.willamettepass.com

Check out the winter resorts in these other western states/provinces:

>> Washington Resorts

>> Idaho Resorts

>> Montana Resorts

>> British Columbia Resorts

>> Alberta Resorts

>> The Rest of the West’s Best

>> Click here to see our Winter Lodging Directory