When storms over the Cascades barrage the mountains with snow, skiers are assured new snow will be measured by the foot, not merely the inch. On peaks like Mount Hood, storms regularly bring two to three feet of snow at a time. By mid-October this year, Timberline had recorded two feet of snow.
Oregon’s other ski areas are generally in full operation by Thanksgiving as well, with plenty of snow coverage. Oregon’s parking areas and trailheads require valid Sno-Park permits, which can be purchased in ski and sports shops and many stores in the mountains.
A regional favorite with family skiers is Mount Bachelor in the Cascade Mountain Range, just outside Bend. It’s big. It’s popular. It’s groomed.
Mount Bachelor offers over 8,000 skiable acres, with 3,200 acres easily accessed by lifts. This is one of those mountains that claims over 300 inches of snow each year.
And this is the mountain with the most high-speed express chairs in the state, so skiers get in plenty of runs. One of those seven speedy chairs is the new Northwest Express quad west of the Outback chair, which opens up 450 acres of challenging terrain. Nine of the 10 new runs earn “black diamond” designation.
Also new this year are the shaped skis. The rental shop upgraded its inventory to 100 percent shaped skis. These hour-glass beauties help skiers of all abilities to carve turns like Olympians.
Location: 22 miles west of Bend on the Cascade Lakes Highway.
Tickets: Adult $36; child (7-12) $19.50; senior (65+) $21; 6 and under ski free.
Day care: $31 per day or $7.50 per hour; lunch is an additional $5. Reservations are suggested at (800) 829-2442 or (541) 382-2442.
Lessons: Group $30; private $40 per hour.
Nordic: The largest Nordic trail system in the state has 56 kilometers of groomed trails. Trail passes run $9.75 for adults, $4.75 for youths and $6 for seniors.
Phone: (800) 829-2442 or (541) 382-2442.
Reservations: (800) 800-8334 or www.empnet.com/cova
Snow phone: (541) 382-7888.
Mount Hood Meadows Resort
For the fourth consecutive season, Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort has added another new chairlift. The Heather Chair accesses advanced and expert skiing in Heather Canyon, home of the steep pitches and excellent spring corn snow. The chair also eliminates a lengthly flat ski-out at the bottom of Heather Canyon.
With 10 lifts total, Meadows offers skiers three express quads and a mountain with 2,777 vertical feet. Weather permitting, skiers can join the snowcat skiing for $12 per run or $50 for five runs. Cat skiers tackle advanced and expert territory 1,000 feet above the Cascade Express into Super Bowl. Skiers can get 3,777 vertical feet in one awesome run.
Meadows traditionally received some 300 inches of snow annually. This fall opening day was Oct. 21.
Location: East of Portland 67 miles, 35 miles south of Hood River.
Tickets: Adult $35; junior (7-12) $21; senior (65+) $23; child (6 and under) $6.
Day care: None.
Lessons: Group lesson $26; private $45 an hour.
Nordic: 15 km of groomed trails cost $9.
Phone: (503) 337-2222.
Reservations: (800) 9292-SKI.
Snow phone: (503) 227-SNOW.
Timberline Ski Area
The news from Timberline Ski Area on the southern shoulder of Mount Hood includes the freshly upgraded Palmer Chairlift. Now a high-speed quad, the Palmer improves service to skiers and allows them to access the Palmer Snowfield in the winter as well as spring and summer.
Skiers schuss the scenic terrain above the tree line and ski the most vertical feet in the Pacific Northwest at 3,590, with over nearly three miles of skiing. The 31 runs attract skiers and snowboarders who especially like the permanent half-pipe near the Betsy Chairlift.
Skiing isn’t the only attraction to Timberline. Timberline Lodge is over 50 years old. Inside the award-winning Cascade Dining Room, guests find world-class fare and an incredible view of Mount Jefferson to the south. The Lodge has 71 guest rooms.
A unique stay is at the 7,000-foot level of Mount Hood in the historic Silcox Hut. This stone-and-timber structure was built over 50 years ago as the upper terminal and warming station for the first Magic Mile Chair. Restored and open for lodging, Silcox houses up to 24 guests at $75 per night with gourmet dinner and breakfast included, and transportation.
Location: 55 miles east of Portland off U.S. 26 on Timberline Road.
Tickets: Adult $32; kids 7-12 $19, 6 under free; weekday discounts for all ages Day care: None.
Lessons: Group lesson package for beginners $30; private $38 per hour.
Nordic: Rossignol Adventure Center Telemark program, call (503) 231-5402.
Touring available in nearby Mount Hood National Forest.
Phone: (503) 272-3311 or (503) 231-7979 Reservations: (800) 547-1406.
Snow phone: (503) 222-2211.