When white flurries enter the forecast, they are often accompanied by daydreams of wintry adventures: sparkly white landscapes, fresh tracks and ear-to-ear grins from bundled-up snow bunnies. If you’re new to the scene or just need a refresher, you can take a guided snow tour designed for beginners. These guides make it as simple as making a snow angel in fresh powder: All you have to do is reserve your spot and show up. Here are a few to check out this season.
Snowshoeing Mt. Bachelor and the Cascades
Snowshoeing tours near Mt. Bachelor are a fun option for all ages and can be done for everyone’s favorite price: free! These 90-minute interpretive tours are offered mid-December to late March. Participants must be at least 8 years old. Naturalists from Discover Your Forest lead the tours, and donations to the nonprofit are happily accepted.
Or, you can break away from groomed trails and glide into the heart of a hemlock-laden old-growth forest on a Wanderlust Tours snowshoe adventure. Wanderlust’s award-winning naturalist guides will impart their knowledge of the wildlife that call the Cascade Mountains home and will have you and your family running, jumping and splashing through powder. These tours are open to all ability levels and are recommended for children 8 and older.
Wanderlust also offers two nighttime tours, both of which offer incredible stargazing opportunities. The Moonlight & Starlight Snowshoe Tour immerses you under the glow of our twinkling solar system. During a full moon, the moon’s reflection dances off the snow and when the moon is not fully illuminated, ancient constellations blanket the night sky and the chance to see shooting stars is at its peak. Snowshoeing in the calmness of night is also a great opportunity to see nocturnal wildlife scampering about while you enjoy a mug of hot chocolate. The Bonfire on the Snow tour leads guests to a hand-carved snow amphitheater where a crackling bonfire, local dessert, spirits and hot cocoa await.
Wanderlust also hosts a Shoes, Brews & Views Snowshoe Tour where guests can enjoy a variety of locally crafted beer (and hand-crafted root beer for kids) in the winter wonderland of the Deschutes National Forest.
Mt. Hood Snowshoeing
If you’re eager to snowshoe around Oregon’s tallest mountain you’re in luck — options abound, and the landscape is pretty magnificent. Mt. Hood Outfitters offers a guided 3-mile snowshoe tour that lets you discover the rich history of the Mt. Hood National Forest, learn winter survival strategies, see native birds, find animal tracks and spot views of Mt. Hood on a clear day. It includes snowshoes and poles, and a moonlight evening snowshoe tour is also offered if you’d rather experience this wonderland under the stars.
These guided snowshoe tours tours, as well as guided cross-country ski tours for all ages and skill levels, meet at the Mt. Hood Outfitters headquarters in Government Camp’s historic village. Note that all vehicles are required to have an annual or daily sno-park permit to park, and each vehicle must carry chains or have studded winter tires since the shop is located in a snow zone.
REI also offers a range of Mt. Hood snowshoeing and cross-country skiing programs for both public and private groups, including transportation, instruction and gear and equipment.
Mt. Hood Snowmobiling
If snowshoes just aren’t fast enough, snowmobiling satisfies the need for speed. Mt. Hood Outfitters holds the only permit for guided snowmobile tours in the Mt. Hood National Forest. The two tour options last 1.5 hours and 3 hours, and are open to visitors with a valid driver’s license (no snowmobile experience necessary). You can hop on a single or double snowmobile, pop on your helmet and be zipping around in no time. Tours meet at Frog Lake Sno-Park or Skyline Road Sno-Park, both off Highway 26. The company disinfects its rental snowmobile gear using the same protocol as its snowshoeing tours.
Shuttles and Stays on the Mountain
It’s easy in Oregon to avoid the worry of driving and parking in the snow to get to your adventure destination. Visitors have numerous ways to get to Mt. Hood without a car from the Portland region, Willamette Valley and Gorge towns. Columbia Area Transit Park and Ride is now serving visitors to Mt. Hood Meadows as well as to Government Camp, to connect with the Timberline Resort Shuttle and Mt. Hood Express.
Visitors to Mt. Ashland Ski Area can ride to the mountain in style via the free shuttle bus from the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites, while Mt. Bachelor snow bunnies can skip parking hassles with shuttle service from town. Check the website for fares, pickup locations, dates and other important info. When in doubt, book lodging nearby the mountain, wherever you go — like the Wallowa Alpine Huts in the Eagle Cap Wilderness — and you’ll be getting fresh tracks every day.
If You Go:
Winter in Oregon can be chilly and wet or crystal clear and sunny — so wear waterproof layers and appropriate snow boots, and don’t forget your sunglasses. Remember that face coverings are required for all of Oregon’s public indoor spaces. Make sure to Take Care Out There by carrying your Ten Essentials, sharing the trails and leaving sites cleaner than you found them. Brush up on more tips on how to winter like an Oregonian. Know that cell service may be spotty, so download maps and trail directions. If you are traveling by car, be sure to check road and weather conditions before heading out, and carry snow chains or traction tires when advised.