It’s been several years since our family moved to Southern Oregon and fell in love with the region. Every season brings new opportunities for kid-friendly adventure. As a family of five, we have experienced nearly every winter activity in Southern Oregon — from skiing at Mt. Ashland to snowshoeing at Crater Lake — and made them an annual tradition. Embrace the snow and make lifelong memories with your loved ones!
Take your pick from several fantastic designated sledding hills throughout Southern Oregon. Our three favorites are:
Farewell Bend Sno-Park: We love this spot because it has just the right size hills for young children. Our 6-, 4-, and 2-year-old all went down with smiles. For the braver kids (or adults) there are steeper hills as well. Restrooms are available and warming pits are permitted. One of the best parts about this location is that it is just up the street from Beckie’s Cafe, which has some of the best pie in the county!
Table Mountain: The steepest and longest hill for sledding in the area is Table Mountain. It’s located up Dead Indian Memorial Road and is near Hyatt Lake. This sledding area is very popular and is a great place for families. I would recommend driving with chains or using a car with 4-wheel drive. We actually got stuck once trying to make it in our mini van. There are restrooms located nearby as well as a designated area for a warming pit (build your own fire).
Diamond Lake: This is one of the most popular tubing hills. It is right up the road from Farewell Bend, about a half-hour away, and offers a designated tubing hill with tube rentals. Diamond Lake also offers a tow rope! You can check out prices and hours of operation here. Diamond Lake Resort runs the hill and even has cosmic tubing in the evening. Typically the hill is open through April. Children must be at least 3 years of age to go on the hill.
Mt. Ashland Ski Area is less than an hour’s drive from Medford. They offer rentals, classes and a great lodge to relax, eat and drink warm cocoa. There are also some fantastic events at Mt. Ashland Ski Area throughout the season. Be sure to check their website for dates and times of operation. Twilight skiing is offered for a discounted price almost daily.
The National Park Service at Crater Lake National Park offers free ranger-led snowshoe walks through the forests and meadows along the rim of Crater Lake. The walks are offered every Saturday and Sunday (and some holidays) from December through late April. The walks start at 1 p.m., last two hours and cover 1-2 miles of moderately strenuous terrain. Snowshoes are provided free of charge, and there is no cost for the tour!
While the ranger-guided tours do not allow kids under 8, you can snowshoe on your own — just know your bearings. I have been told that they only have adult sizes for snowshoe rentals at Crater Lake, so if you are planning on bringing a child, you will have to bring your own snowshoes. You can rent them at many outdoor stores throughout the Rogue Valley such as Black Bird. REI also has snowshoes for purchase for around $25. You can see more of forestNfolk’s snowshoeing adventure here.
The Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink is open from mid-November to the end of February. It is one of our favorite winter traditions. My daughters have birthdays in December and January, and it is always their birthday pick to go ice skating at Lithia Park.
Kids 5 and under skate free, and skate rentals are only $3! Skate sizes start from toddler size 9 up to men’s size 15. Hot chocolate, coffee and a variety of snacks are available for purchase. The rink also offers skate trainers for new learners — at no additional charge. You can see their calendar of events as well as dates and times here.
The South Coast
Thinking about getting out of the frigid temps? Head to the southern Oregon Coast! Often touted as Oregon’s Banana Belt, Brookings has weather patterns that deliver some of the warmer temperatures along the Oregon Coast; it’s not uncommon to encounter a 70-degree day in January or February! In fact, one visit in November had the warmest weather we’ve ever experienced in Brookings. We love finding home rentals, but the Beachfront Inn is an easy and picturesque option.
Union Creek Resort is a perfect spot for seeing and doing winter activities. Union Creek Resort is close to Crater Lake, which is perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Union Creek Resort also has its own trails as well as trails for snowmobiling. Farewell Bend’s sledding hill is just up the road about a 1/4 mile, and Beckie’s Cafe is just across the street.
Diamond Lake Resort is another great place for winter vacationing. If you’re looking for more extreme activities like snowmobiling, Diamond Lake is the most popular. They offer snowmobile rentals (hourly and daily), cross-country ski rentals (hourly and daily), showshoe rentals (in all family sizes) and not to mention the fantastic tubing hill.
Callahan’s Mountain Lodge in Ashland offers winter deals, live music every night and indoor and outdoor dining.
Kid Time Children’s Museum in downtown Medford is a great place to come in from the cold and let your kids get their energy out. My kids could spend all day there splitting their time between the art room, daily activities such as fort makers, superhero academy, preschooler PE, master builder classes (LEGO building), music time and so much more.
Rogue Rock Gym in Medford is one of our favorite places to go as a family. Even my 3-year-old was able to scale the rock walls, and we all really enjoyed the atmosphere! You can show up with absolutely no experience and no gear (like we did), and they will help you with rentals and show you around the gym.
Craterian Theater in downtown Medford has fantastic musicals and plays year-round. This year the theater will host Cirque Mechanics — a Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels. The winter season typically offers a musical from The Teen Musical Theater of Oregon, which is family-friendly. You can check out The Craterian’s calendar year here.
The Rrrink in Medford is open year-round, and indoors if the temps are too cold for outdoor skating in Ashland.
ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland is always a favorite with my kids. ScienceWorks is a museum that is both educational and tons of fun. They have a play room for young children, a room dedicated to making giant bubbles (my kids’ favorite), a room full of interactive activities that teach kids that science is FUN and so much more!
If You Go:
- Sno-park permits ($4 per day) are required from Nov. 1 to April 30 and available online, at all Oregon DMV offices, and by permit agents in resorts, sporting goods stores and other retail shops.
- Come prepared with extra layers of waterproof clothing and boots, plenty of food and water, headlamps, fuel, and chains or snow tires for your car. Always check weather and road conditions before you head out, and be comfortable driving in wintry conditions.
- Warming huts are located at some sno-parks, but be prepared for changing conditions. As you peel off layers and open snacks, make sure to follow Leave No Trace practices — take your wrappers, broken equipment and water bottles home with you to leave the site beautiful for visitors all season long.
- Be aware and courteous of other trail users. If you’re snowshoeing, don’t snowshoe over ski tracks because it ruins the track and can make it more difficult to ski. If you happen to be skiing on a snowmobile trail, move off to the side. Be friendly and say hi on the trail.