Where to Go for Snow Near Portland, Oregon
November 23, 2021
Did you know that Portland is just a hop, jump, and skip away from Winter Wonderland? Less than a 2-hour drive from downtown Portland, Mt. Hood (an active volcano which is part of the Cascade Mountain range) boasts beautiful forests, crystal clear rivers and lakes, and in the wintertime, snow sports galore!
Every year, as winter settles in and the days become a little darker and drabber in the city, Portlanders take to the mountain in search of some epic pow and serious fun! There are several places to enjoy winter recreation, so read on for where to go and why.
Mt. Hood Ski Bowl
Huge variety of activities for the whole fam!
Mt. Hood Ski Bowl is the closest of the big ski resorts to Portland. Because of this, it is also at the lowest elevation, and it can take a little longer for snowpack to accumulate here. For this reason, Ski Bowl is usually the last to open its lifts. Once it does though, it’s game on, and Ski Bowl has plenty to brag about! Known for its relaxed runs with options for both beginners and experienced riders alike, it is also the largest night ski area in North America! Lift tickets are typically more affordable here, with special rates on some days of the week, and they have a killer ladies’ night deal.
If you’re looking for family friendly activities or would just like to play in the snow without skis or a snowboard, why not try tubing for a day? Ski Bowl is our absolute favorite place for snow tubing on Mt. Hood. There’s also an option to try COSMIC tubing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights with laser light shows, a rocking playlist, and a conveyor belt that takes tubers from the bottom to the top of the hill effortlessly. So. Much. FUN!
You’ll also find all the usual amenities at Ski Bowl – with a cozy, day-use lodge that serves up delicious, hot food to warm you up after your time on the slopes. Grab a hot cocoa or a beer and fries in between runs!
Mt. Hood Meadows
For skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts!
The award for the largest ski resort on Mt. Hood goes to Mt. Hood Meadows. They offer more than 2000 acres of skiable area and at least 87 trails to explore it all, and they are known for their huge diversity of terrain. There are miles and miles of runs for intermediate riders to uncover, and for thrill-seekers, Heather Canyon boasts the double black diamonds of your dreams. With all of this and up to six terrain parks on any given year, it’s impossible to bored of the same ol’ runs.
The day-use lodge at Meadows is gigantic and houses around ten restaurant and bar options for your mid-day chill sesh. With amenities like this, it makes it easy for visitors to use their all-day tickets and be comfy from open to close. Though not as many trails are offered as at Ski Bowl, Meadows also has night skiiing options so that you can get as many runs in as possible.
If racing down the slopes of Mt. Hood just isn’t your jam, you can also try your hand at cross-country skiing on one of the resort’s designated Nordic trails. You’ll find more than 10 miles of perfectly groomed tracks, taking you through the tall trees and spectacular woods of Mt. Hood National Forest. They also offer several marked trails for snowshoeing and if you plan your adventure right, you might uncover some well-hidden waterfalls in the area!
Timberline Lodge and Ski Resort
Historic overnight stays and year-round skiing!
Perched all the way up at 6,000 feet against the south side of Mt. Hood, Timberline Lodge and Ski Resort is the highest on the mountain. You can typically hit the slopes here much earlier in the season than anywhere else. In fact, one of Timberline’s lifts operates year-round so that ski and snowboard enthusiasts don’t have to wait for winter just to get in a couple of runs. The Palmer Lift is the highest lift on the entire mountain and will take riders up onto the Palmer Snowfield even in the middle of July and August. Reservations are required and totally worth it!
Timberline Lodge, in and of itself, is worth the trip to 6,000 feet. Built in 1937, it was part of Franklin D Roosevelt’s WPA and CCC programs. The lodge is 55,000 square feet of pure magic – complete with an 800,000-pound, great stone chimney that serves as one of the focal points of the lodge’s design. With exceptional views of the southern cascades from giant south facing windows and views of Mt. Hood’s summit to the north, it would be an understatement to say that this is the best place on the mountain for a relaxing drink, so you’ll be happy to know that there’s also a bar on site!
If you are looking for some place epic to enjoy the winter weather this year, make sure you add these to your list. Just remember, snow chains or traction tires are required on Mt. Hood through the winter, so go prepared! And as always, Mt. Hood is a great day trip from Portland with or without snow, so for guided tours to the mountain outside of snow season, check out our full-day trip to the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls and Mt. Hood!