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Oregon ski areas/mountain activities

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Did You Know … ?

  • Seven of Oregon’s 13 ski areas sit on volcanoes.
  • The Timberline ski area boasts North America’s only year-round ski area.
  • The Pacific Crest Trail takes its hikers over 57 major mountain passes.
  • Timberline Lodge was built as a Depression-era WPA project between 1936 and 1938.
  • Hells Canyon is North America’s deepest river-carved gorge (7,913 feet, deeper than the Grand Canyon).

Mount Hood and more

Oregon counts 13 ski areas, including five on its renowned Mount Hood. The areas are scattered around the state, but most (Cooper Spur, Mount Hood Meadows, Skibowl, Ski Summit and Timberline on Mount Hood; Hoodoo, Mount Bachelor, Mount Bailey and Willamette Pass) are in the Cascades, the volcanic range that cuts through west-central Oregon from north to south.

The other ski sites are Anthony Lakes and Spout Springs in the Blue Mountains in northeastern Oregon; Mount Ashland in the Siskiyou Range, part of the Klamath Mountains, southwestern Oregon, and Warner Canyon in the Warner Mountains, southern Oregon.

The resorts offer winter sports including, besides downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing and even dogsledding. Dozens of other snow play parks throughout Oregon’s Cascade and Coastal ranges provide activities that don’t depend on lifts, such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

In other seasons, the mountains attract outdoorsy types who take their mountaineering and rock climbing seriously. Opportunities abound for cycling and hiking, too. Oregon is the only U.S. state with a collection of designated scenic bikeways, and these include routes into the mountains.

Besides, the mountains are destinations that appeal to those who wish to drive the prettiest routes, view wildlife and stop for a picnic or for photography. Crater Lake, America’s deepest lake, is known as a special beauty site, but there are numerous alpine lakes, attractive to admire and sometimes good for a relaxing kayak outing or other activity. Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge, also is among the state’s top sightseeing attractions.

Finally, mountain towns, such as Ashland, Bend, Hood River, Joseph, Lakeview and Sisters, provide comfortable bases from which to explore mountainous terrain as well as in-town dining and diversions like art shows, brewpubs, high-altitude golfing, rodeos, theater and more.

At 4,798 feet above sea level, Lakeview is often called the tallest town in Oregon. At the opposite extreme, Hood River, close to sea level, overlooks the Columbia River but gives access to Mount Hood ski resorts. It’s the kind of place where visitors can try for a tripleheader — a snow, water and land sports activity in one day.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Smith Rock State Park is a well-regarded rock climbing site. Choose the path suited to your skills. If in top form, consider the 350-foot Monkey Face, one of the world’s most difficult.
  • There are brewpubs in Baker City, Bend and Hood River. Check them out.
  • Make the early morning climb to see sunrise at Mount Hood’s Illumination Rock.
  • Ski or ride a snowboard at any of the state’s ski areas. Ski at night at Mount Hood Skibowl, among other areas. Or, choose snowcat skiing at Anthony Lakes or Mount Bailey. It’s an alternative to heli-skiing, with transport by snowcat rather than a helicopter.
  • Hike for a day, or days with camping each night, along the Oregon segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, which follows the mountains for 2,650 miles from Mexico into Canada.
  • Ride one of the mountain bike trails down the side of Mount Ashland, or choose McKenzie Pass Scenic Bikeway. And, BTW, for an alternative, Lakeview is called the hang gliding capital of the West for a reason.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Use lifts to access tubing runs at Cooper Spur or Mount Bachelor. Also, the Mount Hood Skibowl offers tubing runs with varying inclines.
  • Attend a blacksmithing or a textile workshop at the Arts Cabins, an art center in the Mount Hood National Forest.
  • Drive a scenic byway, such as the West Cascades Scenic Byway or the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway in the Cascades or the Hells Canyon All-American Road Scenic Byway encircling the Wallowa Mountains.
  • Time your trip for the Sisters Rodeo in June.
  • Kayak on Trillium Lake for the pleasure of it and for the outstanding views of Mount Hood. Or, in winter, at Mount Bachelor consider riding on a dogsled.
  • Take advantage of a range of activities at the Skibowl Summer Adventure Park in Government Camp. Choices can be as adventurous as ziplining or as relaxing as miniature golf and pony rides.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Attend a performance at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, under way from mid-February to mid-October in Ashland. Or, attend a summer concert at the outdoor Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend’s Old Mill District.
  • Drive the final leg of the Oregon Trail from Barlow Pass, south of Mount Hood, to Oregon City. The Blue Mountain Scenic Byway in eastern Oregon also travels portions of the Oregon Trail.
  • If in town on a First Friday, make the rounds of art galleries in Ashland. Or, take the First Friday Art Walk in Bend. Or, on the second Saturday in July, attend the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.
  • Bring the cross-country skis. Most Oregon ski areas have the trails.
  • Travel on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train, from Elgin, for a journey into the Wallowa Mountains discovering untamed and rugged territory along the Grande Ronde and the Wallowa rivers. Also, at a town called Joseph, take the Wallowa Lake Tramway high into the Wallowa Mountains for spectacular views.
  • Play golf but choose a course with great mountain views, such as, say, the Tokatee Golf Course with its views of the Three Sisters in the Cascades.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Travel Oregon at www.traveloregon.com