At 11,245 feet, Mt. Hood is the highest point in Oregon — and a symbol of outdoor adventure for locals and visitors alike. The perpetually snowy mountain peak is crowned by 12 glaciers, boosted by a massive average annual snowfall from 430 to 550 inches at area resorts.
Mt. Hood is located 50 miles east of Portland and 35 miles south of Hood River, and is easily accessible by car or via a host of car-free transportation options. It’s home to five ski areas ranging from destination resorts to small, idyllic ski areas perfect for families and beginners.
Mt. Hood is a popular weekend destination for Portlanders, but during mid-week visitors will find fewer crowds and great mid-week lodging, dining and lift ticket deals. The quaint village of Government Camp on the lower slopes of the mountain is often considered the gateway to Mt. Hood skiing, but there are plenty of additional lodging options around Mt. Hood including along Highway 26 from Portland in Welches, at Timberline Lodge, as well as Cooper Spur Mountain Resort and the nearby town of Hood River.
Mt. Hood Meadows is one of the largest ski areas in Oregon, offering more than 2,150 acres of terrain. The resort can accommodate many visitors with two separate base areas and a network of 11 lifts. The terrain ranges from steep runs on the frontside bowls, to the gentle groomed beginner runs off Vista Express, to double-back diamond runs of Heather Canyon and Clark Canyon. In addition, the resort dedicates resources to an award-winning network of terrain parks. Meadows also has great mid-week ski deals as well as incredible beginner and kids’ ski deals.
Locals flock to Fresh Tracks Deli in the North Lodge for healthy breakfast and lunch options, including smoothies and noodle bowls. In the South Lodge, The Alpenstube, is an ever-popular full-service restaurant featuring northwest cuisine as well as the famous nacho mountain. The lodge also offers several quick options including The Schuss Grill and Higher Grounds. The south base area is the future home to the new Sahale Lodge, currently under construction. This 23,000 square foot event and activities center and restaurant is due to be completed in time for a December 2020 opening.
Mt. Hood Meadows is 12 miles from Government Camp or 35 miles from Hood River. The resort hosts events nearly every weekend through the winter, including top-tier ski and snowboard competitions, brewers festivals and special tasting dinners. In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, Meadows offers a Nordic center, snowshoe trails and reservation-based overnight RV camping, stargazing events and scheduled night skiing.
Famously offering the longest ski season in North America from early to mid-November through Labor Day, Timberline Lodge & Ski Area also boasts the mountain’s highest slopes at 6,000 feet, just below the summit. It has 1,415 acres of skiable terrain comprised of 41 designated trails including multiple terrain parks. The resort operates a network of seven chairlifts, plus a surface chair and a unique passenger snowcat. The terrain ranges from stellar groomed runs to well-spaced tree skiing, plus high-alpine glacier skiing in the spring and when the winter weather conditions are mild. The resort also offers the magical experience of night skiing on select weekends throughout the winter. Non-skiers can partake in winter fun on the network of snowshoe trails as well as guided full moon snowshoe tours.
The lodge itself is a feat: Built in 1936 as part of the Works Project Administration (WPA), Timberline Lodge is a designated National Historic Landmark. It’s also a ski-in-ski-out overnight lodge complete with a heated outdoor pool. The Ram’s Head Bar & Restaurant in the lodge is also a great place for daily après-ski or a weekend lunch with majestic views. The Wy’East Day Lodge sits just below Timberline Lodge in the day use parking lot and offers classic resort fare and a lively sun deck bar. Another option is the Phlox Point Cabin just off the side of a lower-mountain run, a quaint 1930s cabin offering a curated selection of street tacos, margaritas and beer.
Timberline is located six miles up Timberline Road and can also be accessed using the Timberline Resort Shuttle. Due to its vast popularity, Timberline is best visited on a weekday and via shuttle; better yet, spend the night at the lodge for fresh powder in the morning (and make reservations well in advance).
Located right across the village of Government Camp, Mt. Hood Skibowl features two distinct base areas with 65 designated runs accessed by four chairlifts. The terrain varies from gentle groomers to steep black diamond runs in the popular upper bowl. Skibowl also boasts America’s largest night skiing with 34 fully lit runs, including groomers and black diamond runs, plus two fully lit terrain parks.
In addition to skiing, Skibowl is host to a popular cosmic snow tubing park featuring LED lights, laser light shows, black lights and music, accessed by a dual conveyor lift in the east base area. This affordable, family-friendly ski area also offers great beginner ski packages and a full roster of events throughout the winter including a popular Tuesday night ladies night.
The resort has great on-mountain dining including the lively beer stube, and a visit to the mid-mountain warming hut (especially on a powder day) is a must for the complete Skibowl experience.
Meet a family-friendly ski area specializing in affordable winter fun. Cooper Spur Ski Area is tucked away adjacent to Mt. Hood National Forest on Mt. Hood’s north face with a double chair lift and a rope tow accessing 10 ski runs consisting of 50 acres of primarily beginner and intermediate terrain. The ski area offers onsite parking as well as an on-slope alpine lodge. The ski area is an amenity of Cooper Spur Resort, which includes overnight lodging and dining at the historic Crooked Tree Tavern & Grill.
Cooper Spur also features two lift-served tubing runs as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at the Cooper Spur Mountain Resort Nordic Center.
Established in 1927, Summit Ski Area is Oregon’s oldest ski area. It’s located at the east end of the village of Government Camp. The affordable, family-friendly ski area is known for its 2,300-foot-long chairlift accessing 70 acres of beginner and intermediate trails. The ski area has been undergoing renovations since its 2018 acquisition by R.L.K. and Company, the operator of Timberline Lodge and Ski Area. Proposed plans include a gondola to connect with the Timberline Lodge — an exciting prospect!
Summit Ski Area also includes Snow Bunny, a snow play area and parking lot, approximately 1.5 miles east of Government Camp.
Government Camp: Mt. Hood’s Official Ski Town
Government Camp (aka “Govie”) is Mt. Hood’s alpine village centrally located just off Highway 26. The quaint unincorporated town sits at an elevation of 4,000 feet and receives an average annual snowfall close to 300 inches, making for an idyllic snowy scene throughout the winter. It’s a main lodging destination, with Collins Lake Resort, the Cascade Ski Club, Mt. Hood Inn Best Western and more, plus numerous vacation home and cabin rentals available.
Govie is also the evening hub of activity and après-ski for Mt. Hood’s ski areas. The small town offers recreation opportunities of its own including a network of cross-country ski trails and Summit Ski Area and night skiing and tubing at Mt. Hood Skibowl within walking distance.
Popular dining destinations include the family-friendly Ratskellar Alpine Bar & Pizzeria, Charlie’s Mountain View (the go-to après-ski and late-night ski bar), classic diner fair at the Huckleberry Inn and fresh beers and gourmet fare at Mt. Hood Brewing.
Discover Mt. Hood’s Skiing History
Imagine the wonder when Summit Ski Area first opened in 1927 — or the thrills of daring ski jumpers and off-piste skiers of Mt. Hood dating back to 1890. Today you can witness the deep ski history of Mt. Hood by visiting historical warming huts such as The Phlox Point Cabin at Timberline Lodge and the historic warming hut at Mt. Hood Skibowl, both circa the 1930s.
Another option is to take a self-guided tour of Timberline Lodge which, in addition to a fascinating history all its own, also features several historical ski exhibits in the common areas. (Movie buffs will also recognize Timberline’s exterior from 1980 cult movie “The Shining.”) Mt. Hood Museum in Government Camp also offers several exhibits showcasing local skiing history, such as the permanent “Going Downhill Fast” display of equipment from the early days of Mt. Hood skiing.
Ski and Snowboard Safety
Skiers and snowboarders should always follow the Skier’s Responsibility Code, which exists to raise awareness that there are elements of risk in snow sports that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce:
- Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
- Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
- Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Similarly, those skiing in steep and ungroomed terrain should be familiar with deep snow safety and become informed on traveling and recreating in avalanche terrain. Find more tips on skiing and snowboarding safety here.
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’s at, and respecting wildlife and other visitors. Be sure when adventuring to carry plenty of water along with your 10 Essentials and know that cell service may be spotty, so download maps and trail directions.
There are many ways to take a car-free getaway in Oregon to avoid driving in wintry conditions and parking at popular destinations. 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.