Skiing Central Oregon - ROAD TRIP!!
3 Days, 3 ski areas

The three ski areas in Central Oregon (Mt. Bachelor, Willamette Pass and Hoodoo Ski Areas) make for a perfect long weekend road trip. They are approximately 65 – 75 miles apart from each other, and together offer a wide range of skiing terrain, friendly employees and spectacular views; from the lifts, ski trails and on the drives to and from each area.

First stop was Mt. Bachelor and the Bend, Oregon area.

Day 1: Mt. Bachelor
Friday, March 16, 2007
Portland to Mt. Bachelor – 180 miles

This would be my first sunny day skiing/riding at Mt. Bachelor (3,683 total acres), meaning my first day to take in the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and my first day to ride the Summit lift that gives skiers and riders access to the highest point at the Mt. Bachelor Ski Area (9,065 foot elevation), with a total vertical drop of 3,365 feet.

So, with perfect spring weather and blue skies, Friday was fantastic! I had the car packed the night before I left Portland, woke early on Friday morning and hit the road. The route through Government Camp on Hwy 26 to Bend is a beautiful drive. The rolling hills surrounding Mt. Hood dropped me into the open (blue) skies of Central Oregon. It is a very easy drive, especially with the gorgeous weather we had last weekend.

Arriving at Mt. Bachelor around 10:30 am, the mountain looked gorgeous as I climbed the access road, staring at the Summit Express as it climbed to the top. Dressed and loading on my first chair ride of the day at about 11:00 am, the snow was already in a perfect spring-soft state and I was immediately enjoying the sun on my face and the carvable snow under my feet.

I wanted to ride as many lifts as possible to cover the most terrain I could in one day (I rode 6 out of 11), so I went form the Pine Martin Express to the Outback and Northwest Express chairlifts. With a great tree-skiing pitch, and perfect spacing between the trees, the Northwest and Outback lifts access some of the best tree runs available in Oregon. Today I didn’t venture too much in the trees, but the lifts on the Northwest side of the mountain granted me long, uninterrupted runs to carve and play on. The rollers and natural terrain were as much fun as you can have on a sunny, spring day.

From there I headed across the mountain to the Skyliner Express. I moved to the Sunrise Express and combined with the Summit Express lift to make a couple of long, top-to-bottom runs. The views were gorgeous and the snow was excellent. I rode hard and put some serious work on my legs.

After snowboarding for several hours I needed food and wanted to take a look at my upcoming drive to Willamette Pass tomorrow morning. I headed down to the Deschutes Brewpub to enjoy some specialty brews (only available at the brewpub in Bend, OR) and solve my hunger problem.

I stayed in Bend at the Mt. Bachelor Village Resort . Great spacious rooms with gorgeous views and top-notch facilities, including a full-on athletic center.

Day 2: Willamette Pass
Saturday, March 17, 2007 (St. Patrick’s Day)!
Bend to Willamette Pass – 65 miles

I routed the easy, 65 mile drive from Bend to Willamette Pass, headed out early, winding down Hwy 97 and connecting with Hwy 58 that leads to Willamette Pass.

Loading on the Eagle Peak Accelerator (the only high speed 6 passenger chairlift in Oregon). The Eagle Peak Lift is the fastest in the state; it takes you 1,520 vertical feet in less than 5 minutes. This lift also becomes a wonderful summer attraction, offering rides to the top in a gondola. Check out the Willamette Pass website for details.

The weather was once again perfect, in the low 50’s to low 60’s, the backside of the ski area held up with perfect spring conditions. I took several cruisers, carving deep grooves and spraying spring snow with each turn. Swooshing down June’s Run, Northern Exposure and running quick speedy turns and floating over the rollers on Where’s Waldo.

Several runs offered phenomenal views on the front side, overlooking Odell Lake. If you are not used to seeing blue waters glistening in the sun while you ski, you should take a trip to The Pass. It is a normal sight to see, with Odell Lake positioned at the bottom of the ski area. It makes each run unique offering a spectacular big-picture sight. The photo to the left is from the top of Eagle’s Flight.

I met several locals and each one showed me around a couple of runs. Amber, a Junior Ski Patroller at Willamette Pass is shown below, cruising down June’s Run on the backside of the ski area (video below). Amber says that skiing is one of the passions (maybe the biggest) in her life…she is 14, takes part in multiple ski clubs and is also on the Junior Ski Patrol at Willamette Pass. Her duties on the Junior Ski Patrol include helping open the ski area and sweeping the ski area each day she is on the hill. Just talking with her brought me to realize another benefit and advantage to making skiing a part of a kid’s life – the responsibility it can teach.

From the extreme (and very inspiring) life of Amber, skiing and riding can teach loads of responsibility and life lessons, including being responsible for all of your equipment (I still do a mental check as soon as I am backing out of my driveway – goggles, hat, gloves, boards, boots –check). Amber’s dad is also on the Ski Patrol at Willamette Pass, showing me how much skiing and snowboarding can and do to bring a family together. Amber’s little brother also skis.

It’s a beautiful thing to have people you love sharing the enjoyment of sliding down a mountain. The time, preparation, patience and money it takes is well worth it. A wise person told me – “You only live once. Make it memorable and make it have meaning.” I still think about those words often, especially when making smiley memories in the Oregon Mountains.

I concluded the day with the beautiful drive to Eugene from the ski area. There is a viewpoint just down the hill from Willamette Pass Ski Area that allows a gorgeous lookout of Diamond Peak (also viewable from the top of Peak 2 Lift). It’s a quick 65 mile drive from the ski area to Eugene, cruising on Hwy 58.

Will Pass to Eugene – 65 miles

Day 3: Hoodoo Ski Area
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Eugene to Hoodoo – 75 miles

Three days of beautiful weather, and three ski areas that offer their unique experience! What a fantastic weekend! Hoodoo has some great terrain to ski, and they have also built a new day lodge, complete with all of the trimmings. Hoodoo also offers a great tube park – this place offers a very cool day of fun, from skiing and riding, to playing on The Autobahn!

I want to apologize for not having any original photos or video. My camera battery (rechargeable) died on Saturday afternoon and my charger was in it’s designated place, on my desk in my office. So no photos or video from me on Sunday at Hoodoo, but I did post some photos that are courtesy of Crystal Pizzola, Hoodoo’s Marketing and Snowsports School Manager.

I made loops on the Big Green Machine Chairlift, getting 1,035 vertical feet per run. This got me warmed up in a hurry and I was off to explore the runs off the Hodag Chair, including Impossible Dream and Dante’s Vision.

I headed in for some great lunch and company in the new lodge. The employees and locals seem to just beam with positivity and happiness at the area. After lunch and chats, I headed over to the other side of the ski area and explored Art’s Alley, heading up the Ed Chair and made laps on Red Valley, Midway and the Powder Valley runs.

I packed up a little earlier than 4:00 pm, as my legs were worn and I wanted to get back home to get some things done. The drive from Hoodoo to Portland is 185 miles, giving me a total of 570 miles driven and 3 unique ski areas ridden’.

The greatest thing about Oregon’s Ski Areas is they all offer a very unique experience, and you can day trip between them with ease! I love traveling. I really love exploring new ski areas and Oregon has a plate full of fun to offer.

As you might know, I am trying to ride every Oregon Ski Area as part of the Ski Oregon Challenge, and I still have several left to explore – Mt. Ashland, Warner Canyon, Timberline, Cooper Spur and Cat Ski Mt. Bailey (no lift service, Cat Skiing only).

I am hoping to travel down to Mt. Ashland and combine the Shakespeare Festival with some days at the Mt. Ashland Ski Area. I would like to explore Warner Canyon on the same trip…I hope it works out!

I am sure I will head up to Cooper Spur and Timberline soon, as I live in Portland and these areas are only a short drive away. I am hoping that our next big snow storm comes in soon so I can visit Cat Ski Mt. Bailey for the first time!

Until next time, check out some of the Spring Events Oregon has to offer!!

Jerry K.

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