Editor’s note: Call destinations before you visit to make sure they’re open. Stay posted on what Oregon’s phased reopening means for you, and follow these steps for social distancing outdoors. Also, remember to bring your face covering, required for all of Oregon’s public indoor spaces and outdoors when keeping 6 feet of distance isn’t possible. Here’s what to know about Oregon’s outdoors right now.
Oregon’s Timberline Lodge & Ski Area high up on Mt. Hood has long been celebrated for its summer ski season, but we’d argue that the spring ski season is just as exciting. Spring Passes at Timberline Lodge & Ski Area are announced in early March and offer skiing through the end of May—the 2021 Timberline Spring Pass is on sale now for $175, and is valid seven days a week, March 15th through May 31st. The pass functions exactly as a regular season pass, with direct-to-lift access.
Throughout March, the spring season is very similar to the regular season with all lifts running and all of the winter season terrain open. As the resort gets into the month of April, visitors can start to expect to see earlier lift closings at 2 or 3 p.m., and the lower elevation lifts beginning to close. Visitors should keep an eye on weather conditions as anything is possible in the late spring — the ideal conditions are sunny skies. With sun comes sticky snow later in the afternoons, so mornings and early afternoon are the best time to ski and ride, also consider applying a fresh coat of spring-specific wax on your skis and snowboards to match the warmer snow conditions — any local tuning shop should be able to help. Around late-April the last of the beginner terrain accessed by Bruno’s lift closes, along with it ski school group lessons. But just as the lower mountain slowly winds down, the upper mountain comes alive with the Magic Mile consistently open thanks to great spring weather and the uppermost Palmer Lift opening for the season accessing a huge swatch of perfectly fall-line terrain. Every year locals anxiously await the day Palmer opens for the spring season, which usually opens in late April.
Timberline Excels at Spring Terrain Parks
During the peak of spring, the skiable terrain includes over 3,690 vertical of intermediate and advanced skiing from the top of Palmer to the bottom of Jeff Flood Express. That terrain includes the star of spring skiing — the terrain parks. Timberline operates five unique terrain parks for all levels throughout the winter, accessible from the Stormin’ Norman high-speed quad chairlift. These terrain parks evolve and merge in the spring with the addition of the Flowpark beginning in April, which Timberline Lodge & Ski Area Marketing Manager Ricky Hower describes as “A lot of transition, banks, hips and snow volcanoes inspired by the Portland concrete skateboard scene. Riders can go as fast or as slow as they want, and it’s good for almost any skill level.” Timberline also adds a freestyle park and a half-pipe on Magic Mile in late May as the spring season progresses. It’s not unusual for skiers and snowboarders to travel from neighboring states to enjoy a second season of freestyle riding at Timberline in the spring.
Plenty of Cruising Terrain
If you’re more interested in keeping your skis and snowboards on the ground, you’ll enjoy the wintry mix of conditions in March featuring everything from powder to perfect groomers, followed by the late-spring conditions of firm groomers in the morning, slowly transitioning to corn snow and spring slush. The late spring also includes the long runs off of the upper mountain Palmer and Magic Mile lifts with the stellar views and high-altitude sunshine. And of course, what would spring be without après ski? Head to the Ram’s Head Bar & Restaurant inside the historic Timberline Lodge which opens at 2 p.m. to enjoy locally-inspired cocktails and European Alps-inspired après-ski fondue while taking in views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson (Editor’s note: Due to COVID, the hotel and its restaurants continue to be open for overnight guests only.)
Where to Stay
For lodging Timberline offers seasonal spring ski and stay packages, visitors can also check in at the ZigZag Ranger Station for information on camping. Timberline Ski Area closes following Memorial Day weekend and reopens for summer operations early June at which time 2021 summer passes will be available.