Photo courtesy Hoodoo Ski Area
Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, Island City • 300 skiable acres on 900′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 8000′; Base elevation: 7100′. 2 Lifts: 1 triple, 1 handle tow. Uphill capacity: 2,000/hr. Terrain Mix: 20-38-42. Longest Run: 6300′. Season: late November to early March; Thu-Sun plus holidays. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 300″.
The SKInny: Anthony Lakes is a somewhat tony resort that happens to have one of the best small ski areas in the country. Plenty of powder, seldom crowded, beautiful scenery, lots of snow. Hotshots may find the runs a bit on the short side, but families with skiers of all abilities will find it ideal. Even the “wanderer” can hike if more variety is needed.
Mt. Ashland, Ashland • 200 skiable acres on 1150′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 7500′; Base elevation: 6350′. 4 Lifts: 2 triples, 2 doubles. Uphill capacity: 5300/hr. Terrain Mix: 15-35-50. Longest Run: 5300′. Season: late November to early April. Night skiing Thu-Sat. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 300″.
The SKInny: The vertical put “Mt.A” on the smallish side of mid-sized mountains, but the terrain is definitely big league. Let’s say, the terrain and the frequently imperfect conditions combine to make this a very tough hill to ski. Not recommended for beginners or skiers looking for gentle carving runs. Mt. Ashland has lots of snowboarders, lots of steep, and frequently lots of ice. Now, if you are an accomplished skier, Mt. Ashland will be quite rewarding…ski anywhere, make your own lines, be as insane as you want. It’s the Mad River Glen of the Pacific Northwest.
Signature Trail: The Cirque/Bowl.
Mt. Bachelor, Bend • 3600 skiable acres on 3365′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 9065′; Base elevation: 6300′. 12 Lifts: 7 quads, 3 triples, 2 surface. Uphill capacity: 22,000/hr. Terrain Mix: 15-25-60. Longest Run: 10,500′. Season: late November to early May. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 350″.
The SKInny: Bachelor is the Rodney Dangerfield of U.S. ski areas: No respect. Or at least not the respect it deserves. In the past few years, Mt. Bachelor has made the transition from old-line local ski area to modern corporate ski area. This isn’t necessarily good (ask the locals) and it isn’t necessarily bad (ask the resorty types). Prices have increased a bit since Powder Corp. has taken the reigns. Beyond that, Bachelor is still the same: a big, big ski area with a lift system that divies it up into what seems like a few ski areas in one. Bachelor will argue that the snow isn’t Cascade Concrete, and they’re correct, sometimes. It has all sorts of terrain, from really gentle groomers to really tough drops in the Cirque, which requires a hike. It’s kind of like Breckenridge, except more “up” than “side to side” if you will. Now, once you know the ropes of catching the bus, riding the lifts, etc., you’ll think Bachelor is one of the best ski areas in the country…and why not? It doesn’t have the legend of Squaw or the cachet of Alta, but it sure comes close. And on some days, when the powder is right and the skies are clear, skiing Bachelor can’t be beat. It’s really an ideal place for the family; with the exception of the Outback area it has nothing that a strong intermediate can’t handle; even a legit novice can meander down from the top of the lift served terrain. When everything is open (namely, the Outback) both wanderer and hotshot will be in their glory.
Signature Trail: The Cirque, Devil’s Backbone, Tippytoe.
Mt. Bailey, Diamond Lake • 6000 skiable acres on 3200′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 8363′; Base elevation: 2963′. Snowcat only. Uphill capacity: 12 skiers/day, approx. 6 runs/day. Terrain Mix: 0-50-50. Longest Run: 11,000′. Season: December to April. Demo rentals. Annual Snowfall: 300″.
The SKInny: This is purely for the hardcore. Although a number of skiers will hike and schuss down Bailey well into July, Mt. Bailey Snowcats is one of the most highly-regarded operations of its kind. All skiing is guided. While there are really three primary areas, the mountain presents a virtually unlimited array of runs by connecting chutes, cirques, ridges, glades, and anything else you can imagine on a dormant volcano. You better be able to ski virtually any slope, or be well experienced, to ski Bailey. It is not for emerging blues, and children under 16 are positively not permitted. It is not groomed, and usually requires some walking. Bailey Snowcats says it best on their website: While there are enough terrain options to satisfy every skier in your group, there is a certain ability level required to truly enjoy what Bailey has to offer.
Signature Route: Northeast Face.
Cooper Spur, Mt. Hood • 100 skiable acres on 500′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 4500′; Base elevation: 4000′. 2 Lifts: 1 t-bar, 1 rope tow. Uphill capacity: 1,000/hr. Terrain Mix: 40-40-20. Longest Run: 1800′. Season: December to late March; Thu-Sun plus holidays. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 140″.
The SKInny: Fun, old-timey type little ski area. Not for the hotshot or wanderer…ideal for families. Holiday weekends can be a bit iffy due to minimal uphill capacity. If you go looking for an enjoyable, easy day of skiing, Cooper Spur is for you. If you’re expecting a typical mega resort with detachable quads, forget it. This is skiing circa 1950. It’s ideal for families with young skiers, beginners, etc.
Ferguson Ridge, Joseph • 170 skiable acres on 640′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 5740′; Base elevation: 5100′. 2 Lifts: 1 t-bar, 1 rope tow. Uphill capacity: 1,000/hr. Terrain Mix: 35-45-20. Longest Run: 6300′. Season: December to mid-March; weekends plus holidays. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 250″.
The SKInny: Eagle Cap Ski Club runs this smallish, non-profit operation entirely through the efforts of volunteers. At one time you could work the lift in exchange for your pass; not sure if that policy still holds true, but it gives you an idea of what Fergie is all about. Emerging intermediates can handle just about anything here, although some tougher terrain opens up after snowfalls. Excellent for beginners. Top ticket price is about ten bucks. I wish my community had a Ferguson Ridge.
Mt. Hood Meadows, Mt. Hood • 2150 skiable acres on 2777′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 7300′; Base elevation: 4523′. 13 Lifts: 4 quads, 6 doubles, 1 rope tow, 1 pony tow, 1 magic carpet. Uphill capacity: 16,100/hr. Terrain Mix: 15-50-35. Longest Run: 15,800′. Season: late November to early April. Night skiing Wed-Sun. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 430″.
The SKInny: If you can ski the Meadows on a weekday, you’ll swear that this is the best thing in the Pacific Northwest. Go on a crowded Saturday and you’ll see every wart it has: A quirky lift layout that results in serious crowding, a lodge that’s even worse; plus expert slopes over-groomed to oblivion, and an entire section of the ski area that is inexplicably closed until tomorrow. After skiing the Meadows a time or two, you’ll know the layout, the tricks to getting to short liftlines, uncrowded trails, etc. And then you’ll love it. And hey, they are working on things. For 2007-08 MHM has remodeled the North Lodge ? put new restrooms on the first floor ? and refurbished the Yellow Chairlift. It’s a big, busy ski area very close to Oregon’s and southern Washington’s major population centers. It has terrain for all abilities, and is generally regarded as the best overall of the multitudinous Mt. Hood areas. And it has restrooms on the first floor. Why is it every ski area you gotta climb up or down stairs with boots on to get to a restroom? Is that to sell more boots? Exhaust skiers so lines are shorter? Whatever, Mt. Hood Meadows is making progress.
Signature Trail: Heather Canyon.
Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, Government Camp • 960 skiable acres on 1500′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 5056′; Base elevation: 3600′. 9 Lifts: 4 doubles, 5 rope tows. Uphill capacity: 4620/hr. Terrain Mix: 20-40-40. Longest Run: 15,800′. Season: late November to mid April. Night skiing 7 days. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 300″. Snowmaking: 3%
The SKInny: Of the umpteen ski areas on the sprawling ramparts of Mt. Hood, Ski Bowl ranks a solid third, after Timberline and Meadows. Now, if you’re interested in night skiing, or low cost, or smallest crowds, or proximity to Portland, Ski Bowl moves to the top of the list. When all the lifts are running, conditions are right, trails are open, etc. Ski Bowl is an outstanding mid-sized ski area. When the snow level is too high (elevation where precipitation is rain rather than snow), when the lifts are cranky, Ski Bowl can be a drag. But when everything’s on, Ski Bowl is ideal for hotshots, wanderers, even beginners. The mid-mountain “Warming Hut” is also a must-visit.
Signature Trail: Upper & Lower Bowl, Outback Glades.
Hoodoo Ski Bowl, Sisters • 800 skiable acres on 1035′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 5700′; Base elevation: 4665′. 5 Lifts: 3 quads, 1 triple, 1 double, 1 rope tow. Uphill capacity: 5300/hr. Terrain Mix: 30-30-40. Longest Run: 5300′. Season: late November to early April. Closed Mondays. Night skiing Fri-Sat. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 260″.
The SKInny: This is one of those mid-sized ski areas that doesn’t have the fastest lifts, the best terrain, the greatest grooming, or the newest facilities. Other hills, relatively close by, are superior in every category…except for that intangible we’ll call “atmosphere.” Hoodoo is quieter, less glamorous, less crowded. Lines are short, snow conditions are reliable, the people are friendly. It doesn’t offer any legendary terrain, but you won’t find too many people who have anything other than fond memories of their visit to Hoodoo. And by the same token, the regulars who ski Hoodoo seldom venture to the bigger resorts nearby. Wanderers may get a little restless, hotshots may yearn for tougher stuff, but all in all they’ll enjoy it. As for families, novices, beginners, and emerging blues, Hoodoo is hard to beat…and it doesn’t cost an arm or a leg.
Signature Trails: Powder Valley.
Spout Springs, Weston • 250 skiable acres on 610′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 5560′; Base elevation: 4950′. 4 Lifts: 2 doubles, 1 t-bar, 1 rope tow. Uphill capacity: 4800/hr. Terrain Mix: 45-35-20. Longest Run: 4000′. Season: December to mid April, sometimes May. Night skiing Th-Fri-Sat. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 300″.
The SKInny: Smallish ski area with outstanding family atmosphere, seldom crowded, rated very highly by those who ski it regularly. Hotshots and wanderers won’t be impressed, but for a great day of fun skiing with an occasional challenge, Spout Springs is outstanding.
Signature Trail: Happy, Slalom.
Summit, Government Camp • 70 skiable acres on 300′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 4300′; Base elevation: 4000′. 2 Lifts: 1 double, 1 rope tow. Uphill capacity: 1100/hr. Terrain Mix: 75-25-0. Longest Run: 2500′. Season: late November to early April, weekends only. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 150″.
The SKInny: Of the multitude on Mount Hood, Summit is the oldest…and thus the smallest, quaintest, etc. Beginners, skiers with young families, etc. ought to make Summit their first choice, and move up to bigger and better as skills warrant. A fun atmosphere, nice little old fashioned ski area. Experts with novice friends ought to think of Summit as one of those easier ski areas where you spend a relaxing, refreshing day on the slopes.
Timberline, Government Camp • 1600 skiable acres on 3590′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 8540′; Base elevation: 4950′. 7 Lifts: 5 quads, 1 triple, 1 double. Uphill capacity: 8100/hr. Terrain Mix: 30-50-20. Longest Run: 9240′. Season: October to Labor Day. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 500″.
The SKInny: Here’s the longest lift-served season in the USA. Opens weekends in mid-October on the Palmer snowfield, resumes full-time operations in December. The lower mountain opens in winter, and a few trails linger from Palmer down to the landmark Timberline Lodge. By mid July, the 1500′ vertical, mile-long Palmer is all that remains. But it remains right through August, and the only reason the lifts close is for service during the slow times in September. After school lets out in June, Palmer becomes a mecca for summer ski and snowboard camps. It’s literally crawling with bratty teens and pre-teens who ski better than you, dress better than you, and have more money than you. Fortunately they bunk in Government Camp motels, so you can relax in the refreshing environs of Timberline Lodge without them. The best part of Palmer is skiing down to the historic Lodge in late June, where tourists in shorts and t-shirts will look at you with an expression of utter shock and disbelief. Having said that, Palmer really warrants an “intermediate” rating, but because of variable conditions is better left for experienced skiers. And that’s the story of Palmer. Beyond that, Timberline is a relatively moderate to easy ski area, plenty of pleasant, ambling runs. Expansion is in the works, which will give the resort about 30% more terrain. Who knows if it’s really necessary; with enough snow you can find so many routes and hidden stashes that this place never gets old. Note that the vertical is a little misleading; the entire 3590′ is rarely do-able. The top 1500′ is the aforementioned Palmer, which is generally closed during winter due to too much snow and nasty conditions. And when Palmer is open, the rest of the deal closes. But summit to lodge is a solid 2500′ vertical, and unconditioned summer legs will feel the burn. As an overall ski area, Timberline is great for families and wanderers, but hotshots will be a little underwhelmed. A new high speed quad open 2007-08 gives you 8 new trails, 220 acres in Still Creek Basin.
Signature Trail: Palmer.
Warner Canyon, Lakeview • 200 skiable acres on 1000′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 6200′; Base elevation: 5200′. 1 triple. Uphill capacity: 1250/hr. Terrain Mix: 40-40-20. Longest Run: 4000′. Season: December to March; weekends & holidays. Lessons; no rentals. Annual Snowfall: 500″.
The SKInny: Once part of Fremont National Forest, Warner Canyon Ski Area is now owned by Lake County and is operated by the non-profit Fremont Highlander Ski Club. (Phone 541-947-5001) Vertical is legit, the snow is fantastic, prices are downright cheap, the ambiance is pure rustic Pacific Northwest, volunteers are friendly, and lines are short. If you ski Warner, you will rave about how enjoyable this relatively unknown ski area is. Shows what is possible when you have a community that supports its local ski hill.
Signature Trail: Cougar, The Bowl.
Willamette Pass, Cascade Summit • 550 skiable acres on 1563′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 6683′; Base elevation: 5120′. 6 Lifts: 1 sixpack, 4 triples, 1 magic carpet. Uphill capacity: 10,000/hr. Terrain Mix: 20-45-35. Longest Run: 11,000′. Season: November to mid-April. Night Skiing: Fri-Sat plus Christmas week. Lessons & rentals. Annual Snowfall: 340″. Snowmaking: 11%.
The SKInny: Nice mid-sized ski area for the Eugene crowd. Great atmosphere, great scenery, great terrain, goopy snow. Willamette Pass is one of those ski areas from which “Cascade Concrete” derives its reputation. But we’re being picky. This is a terrific ski area, plenty of off-piste places to get lost, some hard trails, plenty of super gentle trails too. An excellent hill for all types of skiers from families to wanderers to hotshots.
Signature Trail: RTS
Lift Tickets at Discount: This is a “clearinghouse” of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia. If you haven’t used this service, it is important to knowfor certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long…so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets. I’ve used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I’ve knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it’s well worth checking if you’ve got a date nailed down. Note that sometimes they offer deals in which you can pay a slightly higher fee that gives you the option to change dates.