Wherever you ski here, November–April, be sure to purchase and display a Sno-Park permit ($15 for the season, $7 for 3 days, $3 one-day). Most ski shops near the slopes sell them.
From Portland you can hear road- and ski-condition reports on KINK 102 FM at 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Monday–Friday December–March. Log on to www.tripcheck.com or call 800/977-6368 for road conditions and traveler advisory information.
Mount Hood Meadows
The mountain’s largest and most varied ski area is Mount Hood Meadows (503/287-5438, ext. 182, or 800/754-4663, www.skihood.com, $57 adults full-day, $48 adults afternoon, $35 juniors), with 2,150 acres of groomed slopes, terrain parks, five high-speed quads, and half a dozen slower lifts. Even with all the lifts, this place is so popular at times you might have to wait. Night skiing is also popular.
Meadows is located 10 miles from Government Camp on Route 35. It’s often sunny here on the east slope of the mountain when it’s snowing and raining on the west side; call 503/227-7669 for a snow report and hours of operation. Check the ski area’s website for current information about bus transportation from Portland.
Cooper Spur Ski Resort
A popular destination for families and beginners is Cooper Spur (541/352-7803, www.cooperspur.com, $25 adults, $20 seniors and juniors). On the northeastern flank of the mountain, 24 miles south of Hood River on Route 35, the location occasionally offers protection from storms and prevailing westerlies yet has more than enough snow for a good time and is more affordable than the other Mount Hood resorts. However, the trails are only served by a slow double chairlift and a rope tow. Nordic skiers appreciate the Tilly Jane Trail.
Mount Hood SkiBowl
SkiBowl (503/658-4385, www.skibowl.com, $39 adults, $25 night, $23 juniors and seniors) is only 53 miles from metropolitan Portland on U.S. 26 and features the most extensive night skiing in the country. The upper bowl has some of the most challenging skiing and snowboarding to be found on the mountain. Within the complex is a summer adventure park for bungee jumping, an alpine slide, mountain biking, and much more.
Timberline Ski Area
Timberline Ski Area (503/231-7979 information, 503/222-2211 snow report, www.timberlinelodge.com, $52 adults full-day, $42 afternoon, $23 juniors full-day, $25 juniors afternoon) is known for its high-elevation Palmer lift and its nearly year-round season.
With the highest vertical drop of any ski area in Oregon (3,600 feet) as well as the highest elevation accessible by chairlift (8,600 feet), 60 percent of Timberline’s ski runs are in the intermediate-level category. Timberline has the longest ski season in the nation.
Although you’ll rarely find powder conditions at Timberline, the 31 runs are so well groomed that Timberline snow is easily navigable. The chairlifts (six in winter, two in summer) are mostly obscured by trees or topography, so you get a feeling of intimacy with the natural surroundings when you’re schussing downhill. You can go up two lifts, enjoying a nearly 2-mile-long run that drops 2,500 feet vertically.
The upper Palmer lift, highest on the mountain, is open late spring–fall, when conditions are safe for skiing on the Palmer glacier. The Magic Mile chair, directly below the Palmer, is open to the 7,000-foot level for sightseers as well as skiers ($15 adults, $42 family).
Located 60 miles east of Portland on U.S. 26, the skiing starts where the trees end. To get here, go east of Government Camp on U.S. 26 and take Forest Service Road 50 for 6 miles. Check the resort’s website for information about bus transportation.
Summit Ski Area
A mile south of the Timberline turnoff on U.S. 26 is Summit Ski Area (503/272-0256, www.summitskiarea.com, $25 adults, $20 under 12 or over 60), the place for families, beginners, and people who just like to play in the snow. You can ski on beginners’ slopes or rent an inner tube to barrel down the gently sloping surrounding hills. Several other good sliding hills are close by.
To get to Summit, drive through the town of Government Camp off U.S. 26. Beyond the stores and concessions you’ll see a large parking lot on the left side of the road with a structure housing a burger joint and equipment rentals.
Across Route 35 from the Mount Hood Meadows turnoff, Teacup Lake offers a great network of cross-country skiing trails that are maintained by a club that requests a small donation. Another popular trail that’s easy after you get past the first long downhill goes to Trillium Lake. Find the Sno-Park for this trail about 3 miles east of Government Camp on U.S. 26.
Rent cross-country skis and get info about current conditions in the town of Sandy at Otto’s (38716 Pioneer Blvd., 503/668-5947).
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel