The Northwest’s largest and most complete ski area is Mount Bachelor (541/382-2607 information, 541/382-7888 hours and snow report, www.mtbachelor.com, $69 adult, $59 teen or senior, $42 senior over age 70 or youth, $34 adaptive). Located 22 miles southwest of Bend on Century Drive, 12 ski lifts, including seven high-speed quads, and trails that range from beginner to expert make for some of the most popular skiing in the state.
This is the winter training grounds for the U.S. Olympic Ski Team.
The lift takes you right to the top of the mountain, yielding great sunny-day views of the neighboring Cascade peaks. You may also see puffs of steam coming off the slopes, which serve as reminders that Bachelor is a still-kicking volcanic peak.
Although central Oregon is known for its clear skies, the truth is that storms do pass through quite regularly. This is a good thing for skiers and snowboarders, who count on the snow piling up deep enough on Bachelor for the ski season to extend into late spring, but it can mean skiing or boarding in high wind and flying snow pellets. Conditions are often best in late winter and early spring.
Expert skiers and boarders should ride the Northwest Express lift (a high-speed quad) to the mountain’s Northwest Territory, where trees and bowls keep skills honed. The Summit lift is a must, both for the views and the trails, which include some blue runs. Another good area is the part of the mountain served by the Outback Express; runs here are mostly blue.
With a top elevation over 9,000 feet and steady northwest air flow, skiing here can run into the early summer. However, avoid skiing here after 1 p.m. in May and June, when conditions become slushy. If you must ski then, choose the west-side snowfields, which hold up better in the late afternoon light.
Finally, even when ski season is over, Mount Bachelor Summit Chairlift (541/382-2442 or 800/829-2442, www.mtbachelor.com) and the Sunrise Lodge Lift are in operation. The view from the top of 9,065-foot Mount Bachelor takes in many of the Cascade lakes and peaks.
The lift runs 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sunday–Wednesday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Thursday–Saturday late June–Labor Day and costs $15 adults, $12 seniors, and $9 children ages 6–12. Try to time your journey to the top with the ranger talks offered at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. seven days a week. Lunch is served daily in the mid-mountain Pine Marten Lodge 11 a.m.–4 p.m. daily; sunset dinners run 5–8 p.m. Friday–Saturday ($17–25, reservations recommended).
Mountain bike rentals are available from the Mount Bachelor Ski and Sport shop at West Village. Bikes are allowed on the cross-country trails, but not on the chairlift.
The peak’s natural history is conveyed by a three-mile trail where white bark pine and pumice grape-fern grow. The purplish fern is found in only four other alpine plant communities in Oregon, most notably in the pumice desert on the northwest side of Crater Lake. You can get to Sunrise Lodge and Lift via the Cascades Lakes Highway. Many consider the perspective from Mount Bachelor’s 9,065-foot summit to be the finest alpine view in the state.
Mount Bachelor has a history of innovation, and it’s currently focused on ticket pricing. The prices given above are regular prices for days with good conditions. On days when weather prevents some of the lifts from running, ticket prices are scaled back accordingly to $59 or $49.
Skip an afternoon of skiing at Bachelor and join Trail of Dreams Sled Dog Rides (541/382-2442 or 800/829-2442) for a 1-hour sled dog ride ($75) with Jerry Scdoris and his daughter Rachael, an Iditarod finisher. A daylong tour goes to Elk Lake and costs $450 for two people.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel