Some years are better than others for snowfall in Oregon. Even if skiing and snowboarding aren’t accessible, however, sledding and tubing are guaranteed ways to have a blast in the snow. Here are a few of the sweetest spots:
Mt. Hood Skibowl — What makes sliding down the slopes in a giant tube even more thrilling? How about 600,000 LED lights, laser light shows and rocking music? “The World’s Only Cosmic Tubing™” is offered at the Snow Tube and Adventure Park at Mt. Hood’s Skibowl East, bringing an adrenaline rush and party-like atmosphere to tubers of all ages. During the day, the more daring can try the Extreme Tube Hill when conditions allow, and little ones will enjoy the Kiddie Tube Hill as well as the indoor two-story Super Play Zone, Kids Tubing Carousel, Frosty’s Playland and mini z snowmobiles, open weekends and during the holidays.
Mt. Bachelor Snowblast Tubing Park — Grab your tickets soon because the ride here is epic — 800 feet of downhill slope — and tubing times sell out fast during weekends and the holiday break. Tubing is an easy entry to the park activities; chances are you’ll be back for more.
About an hour northwest of Mt. Bachelor, the 5-acre Autobahn Tubing Park at Hoodoo Ski Area — on the 5,700-foot summit of Santiam Pass — has been a family favorite since opening in 2004. Riders can catch a thrill on any of the six 800-foot long tracks which are built on a variety of terrain, making one smoother, speedier and more thrilling than the next. Tiny tots can zoom down the nearby Snow Bunny Sled Hill with their own sleds or a rental tube from the lodge.
The sno-parks east of Eugene, in the Willamette National Forest, are ripe for off-the-beaten-path adventure. One of the best is Salt Creek Sno-Park, on Highway 58, 21 miles east of Oakridge, with facilities to keep everyone comfortable for the day. There are restrooms, a plowed parking lot and a small maintained sledding hill. There’s so much raw, pristine beauty that it’s like being swallowed up by a Thomas Kinkade painting.
In Southern Oregon, Hyatt Lake Recreation Area is home to a sweet sledding hill at the Table Mountain Winter Play Area. The broad and gentle hillside is perfect for families. At the top, a nice warming shelter offers a dry perch of the fun below.
Not far from Crater Lake, Diamond Lake Resort, not far from Crater Lake, is a dreamy setting for family tubing fun (ages 3 and up) with a dedicated hill and up-hill tow that runs on weekends. Cosmic tubing is available on certain nights, with music, laser lights and even s’mores packages to keep warm. Be sure to check conditions and detailed directions (not relying on GPS) before heading out here and to any of the dozens of sno-parks throughout all of Oregon’s regions. Also carry water and other emergency supplies, prepare your vehicle and purchase a sno-park permit. The Oregon Department of Transportation sno-park guide has all pertinent info.
If You Go
- Sno-park permits ($4 per day) are required from Nov. 1 to April 30 and available online, at all Oregon DMV offices, and by permit agents in resorts, sporting goods stores and other retail shops.
- Come prepared with extra layers of waterproof clothing and boots, plenty of food and water, headlamps, fuel, and chains or snow tires for your car. Always check weather and road conditions before you head out, and be comfortable driving in wintry conditions.
- Warming huts are located at some sno-parks, but be prepared for changing conditions. As you peel off layers and open snacks, make sure to follow Leave No Trace practices — take your wrappers, broken equipment and water bottles home with you to leave the site beautiful for visitors all season long.
- Be aware and courteous of other trail users. If you’re snowshoeing, don’t snowshoe over ski tracks because it ruins the track and can make it more difficult to ski. If you happen to be skiing on a snowmobile trail, move off to the side. Be friendly and say hi on the trail.