This winter, she came early and with fury: The siren song of snow. While we’ve had great flurries of powder where we live and work, it’s a true winter wonderland at Oregon’s ski areas, with their snowy peaks, loaded cornices and deep powder stashes. Around the corner, there’s a layer of white carpeting the bunny hill and a feathery dusting for the small upturned faces zipping down it. Oregon’s resorts have new deals aplenty to get you in tune with winter.
Skiers at Mt. Ashland — at the highest point in the Siskiyou Mountain Range — can take advantage of several deals, including a unique one called Car-Load Mondays. Every Monday, a car-load of seven legally seat-belted adults who drive up to the mountain together get to ski or ride for a total of $99. On normal days, kids under 6 and seniors 70 and over ski free, and lift tickets are $30 for veterans and active military. Season passes are $299 for college students, $499 for adults and $249 for kids and seniors. Several nights a week, the mountain is open for Twilight Skiing from 4-9 p.m., when tickets are $25 for adults and $19 for kids ages 7-12. The Mountain Cafe stays open til 9 p.m. for a quick meal or warming beverage and the slopes are magical at night.
With 3,690 vertical feet near the top of Mt. Hood, Timberline Lodge and Ski Area is making it even more enticing this year to buy a $499 season pass, offering a nice package of discounts at Patagonia Portland, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Timberline’s Cascade Dining Room and 15-percent off a midweek stay at the Lodge, making a mini ski-cation all too tempting. Newbies or parents can now book a ski or snowboard lesson online, and visitors can check out the new Timberline webcam before coming out, to get a sneak peek at the conditions. When conditions allow during the winter, take a catch a ride on the Palmer Snowcat to an elevation of 8,540 feet at Mt. Hood, for an unforgettable ride down the mountain through untracked snow. The snowcat is free for lift ticket and season pass holders.
There’s no one-size-fits-all at Mt. Hood Meadows, which offers a handful of different types of passes, to suit every style and need. A value pass ($499 for adults, $399 for age 15-24) works or midweek and evening rides on the slopes. Progression passes ($349) are for those who want to try a new sport, move beyond beginner level, or return to a sport after some time away. It allows access to beginner and intermediate terrain, most lifts, and the rope tow. Want to plot out your trips to the mountain in advance this season? Pick up the multiple visit pass ($299 for five times, $419 for 10 times). The best deal of all — and the best way to beat the crowds — is the night pass ($149), good for 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sundays into March, as weather allows. Bonus: stay with a Hood River lodging partner now through April to score a $99 3-of-5 day pass, $59 adult lift tickets and $39 junior lift tickets.
Midway between LaGrande and Baker City in Eastern Oregon (fittingly, a town called North Powder), Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort is doing what it can to nurture the next generation of ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Every Sunday this winter for eight weeks (starting Jan. 8), 5th and 6th graders can come ski or snowboard for free (lift, rental and lesson included). Parents can ski all day for $35 ($24 after 1 p.m.), and at half price every Thursday. Make it a long weekend and book a cozy yurt, which are nearby the main lodge. The snow will be here for a while: An average of 300 inches of snow falls here each year. Anthony Lakes also includes 30 kilometers of Nordic track, as well as backcountry cat skiing.
Mt. Bachelor celebrated a major milestone this winter with the opening of its new Cloudchaser chairlift — a high-speed detachable quad chairlift that opens up 635 acres of park terrain. The other major draw for families is its Kids Ski Free program (for ages 12 and under) when purchased online, in advance and with a paid adult ticket. Adult passes start at $169 for a two-of-three consecutive day package. There’s no shortage of gorgeous spots to stay around Mt. Bachelor, just 20 to 25 minutes away, from Sunriver Resort to Riverhouse on the Deschutes, Seventh Mountain Resort and more.
For a complete list of Oregon’s 12 ski areas and detailed information about each of them, visit SkiOregon.org.