Here in the Northwest we have an amazing cross section of ski areas. From the small community focused areas like Mt. Ashland, to the destination resort that is Mt. Bachelor in Central Oregon, there is something for everyone, and every ability level. There are really challenging runs and terrain out there, and then there is gentle easy to handle slopes perfect for the novice or the beginner level skiers or riders. Ski season here in the Northwest is a long one typically beginning in late November and running through Memorial Day.
Rogueweather will keep the focus local with reports daily for all four of the ski areas in our immediate region. They are Mt. Ashland, Mt. Shasta Board and Ski Park, Willamette Pass east of Eugene, (the closest ski area for Douglas County skiers and riders), and of course, Mt. Bachelor. In addition, you will find daily reports from areas in the Tahoe Basin and Mammoth Mountain in the Sierras, and also from Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia. You also get daily reports from Jackson Hole in Wyoming. Jackson Hole has been rated the #1 ski resort in North America in many surveys of skies and riders..
The guy doing the reports is Greg Roberts who worked at Mt. Bachelor for 7 seasons, and is a former ski racer. Greg raced throughout the Western US and Canada competing in slalom, giant slalom, and super giant slalom. Many of the ski areas outside of Oregon that are reported on are personal favorites of his. Especially Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Whistler, British Columbia.
WHEN THE SLOPES BEAT YOU UP
OUR SKI AREAS
MT. BACHELOR INFORMATION:
Mt. Bachelor is the major destination resort for the Pacific Northwest. It draws skiers and riders from Northern California to Washington and beyond. Mt. Bachelor is well known for it's forgiving slopes and plentiful snowfalls. Unlike many resorts in Oregon, Mt. Bachelor seems to regularly get the type of cold dry powder more typically seen in the Rocky Mountains. Mt. Bachelor has the most high speed lifts of any resort in the Northwest and that keeps lift lines small. The mountain itself is very spacious and has two main base areas, West Village and the Sunrise Lodge serving the east side of the mountain. Mt.Bachelor also has established a reputation for some of the very best grooming of their runs in the entire ski business. When I worked there in the mid 80s to the early 90s, Mt. Bachelor was frequently voted as THE best grooming at any major ski resort in the country. That legacy lives on. It is also highly praised in skier surveys for it's high speed lifts.
TIMBERLINE RESORT INFORMATION:
Timberline is located on Mt. Hood here in Oregon. It might have the longest ski season in the world with lifts running from the beginning of November through August. In my ski racing days, we trained at Timberline from late May through July. Timberline can and does get snow during all 12 months out of the year. In really snowy years it would be possible to do year round skiing on natural snow. The long ski season is what makes Timberline unique. It is not a big ski area in terms of acreage or lifts. But, if you feel that need to ski on the 4th of July...here is where you can do it with chair lifts running.
MT. HOOD MEADOWS INFORMATION:
Mt. Hood Meadows is located on Mt. Hood's east side and is Oregon's second largest ski area. It has a total of 12 lifts serving it's terrain. And, that terrain is some of the most challenging you will find anywhere. But, there is plenty of easy going beginner and lower intermediate terrain here too. This is the most popular ski area on Mt. Hood for those coming out of Portland. It is the defacto ski area for Hood River and the communities in the Columbia River Gorge. Because of it's proximity to Portland and the Northern Willamette Valley, weekends and holidays can be very crowded up here. Meadows is blessed with a long season. It typically will begin in mid November and then will run through early May.
WILLAMETTE PASS INFORMATION:
Willamette Pass is located in the Cascades east of Eugene along Highway 58 right on the crest of the Cascades. Willamette Pass is the closest ski area to Eugene, the Southern Willamette Valley, and Coos and Douglas Counties. They also see a lot of visitors from Northern Klamath County and Deschutes County. Willamette Pass has a total of 4 chairs. It is a very diverse ski area in terms of the terrain. It has very gentle beginner terrain, but it also has one of the very toughest lift served runs in the entire country in RTS, which stands for Rough, Tough, Steep. It absolutely is. If you can conquer the top of this thing, you can ski or ride ANYTHING! Willamette Pass is very family friendly and lift tickets are modestly priced. If you have never been here before, make sure to put it on your list to visit soon. During the summer the Eagle Peak Accelerator Chair runs to provide access to miles of hiking and biking trails. They also have a number of activities that occur.
HOODOO SKI RESORT INFORMATION:
Founded in 1938, Hoodoo is Central Oregon’s original ski area. Hoodoo sits on the summit of Oregon’s Santiam Pass on Hoodoo Butte, and is Oregon’s most centrally located destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Just 44 miles west of Bend, 85 miles east of Eugene and 130 miles southeast of Portland, Hoodoo Ski Area offers more than 800 acres of terrain, 32 runs, five lifts, night skiing, and one of the largest tubing parks in the West. The ski slopes are on a big, rounded butte, with lots of wide open terrain. So whether you prefer deep and challenging powder or finely groomed runs, Hoodoo has something for you.
WARNER CANYON SKI AREA INFORMATION:
Warner Canyon is a completly unique experience in skiing in Oregon. It is a privately owned ski area that is operated by the citizens of Lakeview and Lake County who become members of the ski club. Every person working there is a volunteer. The ski area is open weekends, federal holidays, and of course Christmas Vacation provided there is enough snow. They have one chair lift which is a triple chair. There are 21 runs of which 11 are advanced/expert level, 5 are intermediate, and 5 are beginner. The average snow pack when they are open is 20 - 36 inches. They do have ski patrol on duty when they are open. Rentals are available in Lakeview at M& B Ski Shop which is at 4 North E Street, which is just a short drive away. They do have food and beverage services, but tailgating in the parking lot and at the lodge is a time honored tradition here. There will be years where Warner does not open at all. I can think of no other ski operation in the US that can tolerate years of not being open. But, Warner does just that. When the snow is deep enough, it is time to play! This ski area is truly kept alive through the love of a small town.
MT. SHASTA SKI PARK INFORMATION:
The Mt. Shasta Ski Park is a very inviting ski area that families just love. It has ideal terrain for novices and beginners, yet it also balances that out by offering challenging slopes for experts. Mt. Shasta Ski Park is a very compact area so keeping track of everybody is very easy to do. During the regular ski season, they are the only seven day a week ski area between Tahoe and Mt. Bachelor. They have night skiing Thursday through Saturday nights, and then again on holiday nights. There are a total of three chairs and a surface lift here. The season at Mt. Shasta is typically from early December to mid April. The Ski Park sits in an ideal spot to catch the storms as they roll around Mt. Shasta so that the snow can fall deep in big storms. However, if there is a scarcity of natural snow, they do have snow making which can be used to augment the real stuff.....or create their own base. This ski area is a favorite of skiers and riders from both Northern California and Southern Oregon. It is the closest skiing and snowboarding to the Redding, Chico area, and Susanville in Northern California and many of the visitors here come from those areas. To get to Mt. Shasta Ski Park take I 5 to Mt. Shasta City, then take State Highway 89 and then follow the signs to turn onto the access road. Mt. Shasta Ski Park is unique for the western United States. It is one of the very few ski areas in the western US that does not sit on National Forest land.
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN INFORMATION:
Mammoth is located in the southern Sierras of California. This is the closest major ski area to the Los Angeles and Las Vegas metro areas. As such it can get very crowded in the base areas. Traffic to and from the mountain on weekends can be a nightmare. But, the mountain itself is huge and it can spread people out well. Mammoth is well known for running late into the season for skiing. Many years Mammoth can offer skiing on the 4th of July. Mammoth is also used as a spring time training center for ski racers. The US Ski Team has been coming here for decades to train in April, May, June, and even into July.
HEAVENLY SKI AREA INFORMATION:
Heavenly is one of the best ski and snowboarding vacation destinations in the entire world. Sitting right on the border between California and Nevada, you do literally ski and ride from one state into another. With Mott Canyon and Killebrew Canyon you get some of the greatest lift served back country terrain in the United States. This makes it an ideal place for experts. If you tire of getting a workout on Heavenly's terrain you can always take time off in the casinos at the bottom of the mountain in Nevada. A gondola serves that area now so you can get whisked right back to skiing and riding when you are ready. With the combination of the casinos, you get an experience that does not get duplicated anywhere else in the world. Ski or ride all day and then head to the casinos for outstanding dining, gaming, and entertainment. Big name performers are always on stage on the South Shore at the base of Heavenly. This is by far my favorite place to take an unwind ski vacation that mixes in so much more than just being on the mountain.
SUGAR BOWL SKI RESORT INFORMATION:
Sugar Bowl is a favorite of mine from my early skiing days. It is a popular ski area for those in the Sacramento area, and also the Bay Area of Northern California. Sugar Bowl is in the north end of the Tahoe basin off of I 80. For something very unique, park in the old parking lots off the Donner Park Highway and ride the gondola into the ski area. This used to be the only way to get to the lodge at Sugar Bowl.
SQUAW VALLEY INFORMATION:
Squaw Valley is one of America's premier ski resorts. It hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and has been the scene of many top level ski races and snowboard competitions. In years with good snowfall, Squaw Valley will have one of the longest ski seasons in California, or anywhere for that matter. Getting turns in with the calendar saying July can happen. It will happen this year. Squaw is very popular with skiers and riders from all over California and also from the Reno area. It is also a major destination resort for skiers and riders from all over the world. Even though lift ticket prices in the main winter season are very spendy, you will still encounter crowds here when the snow is good.
JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING INFORMATION:
Jackson Hole is located in the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. A place of breathtaking beauty, it has been ranked as the number 1 ski resort in the United States for the last five years running. If you have been there, you know why. Excellent lift service to get you more runs. The runs are buffed into superb shape by a fleet of groomers. They see some of the driest powder anywhere and when it dumps here, it really dumps! The ski school is excellent, and the staff everywhere is friendly and welcoming. But when it comes right down to it, Jackson Hole has the BEST in bounds lift served expert and advanced level terrain in the country. Just outstanding! Courbet's Couloir is a legend. If you think you can handle steep, just stand at the top of that thing and work your courage up. But, you better be good! The Tram runs right above you so you are putting on a show. I highly recommend Jackson Hole as a great vacation. I loved going there in the ski racing days. One of my favorite stops. The nearby town of Jackson has plenty to see and do as well. And, Yellowstone National Park is not far away either. Jackson Hole in the summer makes a great vacation to see Yellowstone and then take in what happens in Jackson. They have concerts all summer long with musical choices from classical to hard rock. They also have theater performances as well. The Tram runs for sightseeing and their restaurant at mid mountain is open for dining. The ski runs become hiking and mtn. biking trails. There is a lot do here anytime of the year.
WHISTLER BLACKCOMB, BRITISH COLUMBIA INFORMATION:
Whistler Blackcomb hosted alpine ski racing events during the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. It is a very large area in terms of acreage and spans two mountains. Blackcomb Mountain, and Whistler Mountain. There is a village at the base of the two mountains that reminds me somewhat of Vail, Colorado. They can accommodate crowds very easily. You find the biggest lift lines in the mornings at the base of the Gondolas and the other lifts coming out of the villages. Once you get people up on the mountains lift lines become very short due to the capacity they have to move people. Whistler also has one of the largest grooming fleets in the world and usually offers more groomed runs than most ski areas have for runs in total. They do a great job of providing an excellent experience. Once you come here for the first time, you WILL want to come back.