We don’t blame you if you get a bit of FOMO (“fear of missing out”) when it snows. Those idyllic images of white sparkly snow, fresh tracks and ear-to-ear grins from bundled-up snow bunnies make us want to beeline to the fluffy white stuff in Oregon, too. If you don’t like to drive in the snow or don’t have all the skills you need, you can take guided snow tours designed for beginners — with instruction, most gear and transportation provided. All you have to do is reserve your spot and show up. Here are a few to check out this season.
Mt. Hood snowshoeing
Options for snowshoeing getaways around Oregon’s tallest mountain abound, so choose wisely. Mt. Hood Outfitters offers four different showshoe tours, depending on your mood and thrill level. The daytime tour offers two to four hours of exploration with a focus on proper technique. A Crosstown tour takes visitors along the Crosstown Trail, through a wonderland of old-growth forest around Government Camp. A moonlight tour is another one for the bucket list. And a New Year’s Eve bonfire tour is probably the coolest way to ring in the new year, with a fireworks show over Mt. Hood Skibowl. This and the sleigh rides and guided cross-country ski tours for all ages and skill levels meet at the Mt. Hood Outfitters headquarters in Government Camp’s historic village.
For a slightly different experience, REI offers a Snowshoes & Brews tour for adventurers 21 and older. Guides help you gear up and lead you through the two to four miles of trails at Mt. Hood’s White River Canyon and Cooper Spur Mountain, full of tidbits about the natural and cultural history of the region. Then the tour stops off for a reward of beer and appetizers at a tavern nearby. REI provides snowshoes, poles and gaiters as well as transportation to and from Gateway Transit Center in east Portland.
Mt. Hood snowmobiling
If snowshoes just aren’t fast enough, snowmobiling satisfies the need for speed. Mt. Hood Outfitters holds the only permit to offer a guided snowmobile tour in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Tours last 1.5 hours and are open to visitors with a valid driver’s license — no experience necessary. You can hop on a single or double snowmobile, pop on your helmet with face shield and be zipping around in no time. Tours meet at Frog Lake Sno-Park or Skyline Sno-Park, both off Highway 26.
Mt. Bachelor snowshoeing
Free is a great price, especially considering that these free volunteer-led snowshoe tours (offered through March), will teach you more than just how to stay upright. A U.S. Forest Service naturalist will meet you at the ski area’s parking lot and lead your group on a guided 90-minute tour of nearby trails, chock full of insight about winter ecology and geology, plants and animals. Snowshoes are provided, but participants must be prepared with warm layers and snow boots. This tour is recommended for children age 10 and older; no dogs allowed. Donations are accepted to benefit Mt. Bachelor’s nonprofit partner, Discover Your Forest. You can even leave the car behind and hop on a bus shuttle to Mt. Bachelor from the Bend Park n’ Ride lot; make sure to book early, especially during peak season.
Children age 8 and up are welcome on this Wanderlust Tours trek, led by naturalists in the wilderness around Mt. Bachelor and the surrounding Cascade Mountain Range. The small-group levels are customized for whatever adventure level you’re seeking, whether it’s flat strolling or getting air on the lava flows. For your money you’ll get expert instruction as well as transportation to the mountain from the Wanderlust office in Bend, where you can rent waterproof boots, jackets and pants.
Wanderlust offers a Moonlight & Starlight Tour that takes you out under the light of a full moon to enjoy constellations and shooting stars, nocturnal animals and hot chocolate (offered through April, weather dependent). Wanderlust also hosts a family-friendly afternoon Shoes, Brews & Views tour, with suds from Bend’s Cascade Lakes Brewery and handcrafted root beer for the kids (ages 8 and up welcome). Transportation from Bend is included with both tours.
Shuttles to the mountain
Snow worshipers in Southern Oregon can get to Mt. Ashland easily via the Snow Bus shuttle. With pickup from several locations in Ashland, you can truly skip the hassle of driving, kick back in a reclined seat and start daydreaming about your runs.
Visitors have numerous ways to get to Mt. Hood without a car, from the Portland region, Willamette Valley and Gorge cities. When in doubt, book lodging nearby the mountain — 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, appropriate snow boots and don’t forget your sunglasses. Learn how to come prepared by brushing up on tips at How to Winter Like an Oregonian. Wherever you hit the slopes, follow Leave No Trace principals, including packing in and out, leaving what you find where it is, and respecting wildlife and other visitors. 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.