During the month of May, Oregon reigns supreme with the most lift-accessed terrain available anywhere in the country. Three ski areas — Timberline Lodge & Ski Area and Mt. Hood Meadows on Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor in Central Oregon — keep the lifts spinning, lay down fresh corduroy runs and groom freestyle park features throughout the month of May. The truth is this is when you find some of the best ski conditions of the year. It’s that magical time of uncrowded slopes, non-existent lift lines and long sunny days —it’s T-shirt and sunglasses season, people.
In contrast to deep winter snowstorms, spring skiing in Oregon is all about following the sun. For the best spring experience, keep an eye out for warm, sunny days, then get up early to experience fast groomed runs, which quickly transition into slushy corn snow through the afternoon.
From now through closing weekend (May 26–27, 2018), Mt. Bachelor’s lifts are spinning, 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., seven days a week. The ski area has four lifts running including Pine Marten, Skyliner, Summit and Northwest (closing May 7) accessing numerous runs as well as a trio of terrain parks and a halfpipe. The main West Village Lodge facilities are open, as well as the rental, demo and ski school departments, which operate through the end of the season. Mt. Bachelor also allows overnight RV and trailer camping for $20 a night at the base of the lifts in the West Village Main parking lot.
In the spring, the parking lot is home to trucks and vans loaded up with mountain bikes, drift boats and dirt bikes. With the afternoon free, you can follow the lead of these Bend-ites and transition from skiing to mountain biking the popular Phil’s Trail network; the trailhead originates on the return drive back to Bend. Or book a rafting trip on the Deschutes River with Sun Country Tours. The most popular spring trip is the Big Eddy Thriller, a three-mile journey through Class III rapids. This stretch of river is just minutes from Bend, with the round-trip adventure completed in just two hours, which leaves plenty of time to make it to happy hour downtown.
Mt. Hood Meadows
On Mt. Hood, skiers have the choice of laying down turns at either Timberline Lodge & Resort or Mt. Hood Meadows during the month of May.
Mt. Hood Meadows is open Friday –Sunday through May 12, with lifts running from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Access the famous Buttercup and the beginner-friendly Buttercup Fun Zone, as well as Vista Express, Mt. Hood Express and Cascade Express at an elevation of 7,300 feet. In addition to fresh groomers, the Vista Park, banked slalom course and halfpipes are all groomed for spring riding. The season-ending party on May 12 is a great opportunity to party like a local with live music on the Mt. Hood Meadows Sun Deck.
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area is by far the most recognized late-season ski destination in the country, with the longest ski season in North America. The slopes serve as the official training site for U.S. Skiing, U.S. Snowboarding and U.S. Freeskiing, as well as a destination for freestyle ski and snowboard camps. Throughout the month of May, Timberline operates from 9 a.m. – 2/3 p.m. seven days a week before transitioning to summer skiing after June 3 (June 4 through September 3 hours are 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.)
Timberline runs the “best three lifts” daily. Depending on conditions this can include the uppermost Palmer Lift, which rises to 8,540 feet on the Palmer Glacier. This wide-open, above-tree-line run features one of the most spectacular views across Oregon, with Trillium Lake sparkling through the endless blue and green foothills.
Timberline offers a spring pass for $139, which is on sale through May 13 and valid through May 28.
For the more adventurous, Oregon Ski Guides, a division of Timberline Mountain Guides, offers guided backcountry ski trips and ski descents tours around Bend and on Mt. Hood, including an array of spring tours.