Ah, winter. A time to retreat, reflect and play in the snow. Klamath County, in Southern Oregon, offers some of the best winter escapes in the state, with its winning combination of mountain lakes, forested slopes and 300 days of sun a year. Whether your preference is cozying up by the fire, taking a sleigh ride or watching winter wildlife, here are three friendly resorts you might find yourself returning to year after year.
1. Stay in a Rustic Cabin by a Lake
A stay at Lake of the Woods Resort will convince you: Time travel is possible. Situated near the crest of the Cascade Range about an hour east of Medford, this popular resort offers 32 cabins arrayed around a picturesque lake. The cozy cabins feature vintage decor and updated amenities — and many are pet-friendly, too. The restaurant and pizzeria are open seven days a week all year-round, and in winter you can even catch live music on Saturday afternoons.
If you visit during the annual Kite Fest in February, you can witness the colorful spectacle of kites soaring above the frozen lake. Now in its sixth year, the festival has become a favorite tradition, complete with a breakfast buffet and live music. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to ice fish, time your visit for the annual ice-fishing clinic and derby (follow the resort’s Facebook page for details and announcements). Want to see more of the snowy landscape? You can cruise over 300 miles of groomed snowmobile trails or swoosh through the conifers on the extensive network of nonmotorized Nordic trails at nearby Summit Sno-Park. Or simply contemplate the view of snowcapped Mt. McLoughlin rising above the lake.
2. Spot Resident Eagles at Klamath Lake
Strategically located on the shores of Klamath Lake just west of Klamath Falls, the Running Y Resort is a miniature town with its own golf course, shops, sports center and even a spa. You can book a pet-friendly room or suite at The Lodge at Running Y or select a vacation rental; with townhomes, chalets and custom homes, you’ll be sure to find something that matches your style and budget. Once you settle in, enjoy a meal at the Ruddy Duck and muse over the buffet of activities available at the resort.
With six National Wildlife Refuges within the Klamath Basin, this region offers some of the best birding in the country, and winter is prime time. Several knowledgeable birders live at the Running Y and are happy to share their expertise. Eagles flock to the resort during the cold months, and some reside there year-round. Use your own eagle eyes to spot them roosting in the conifers in and around the resort. Look for several species of woodpecker, including the white-headed woodpecker, in the mixed oak and evergreen habitat. You can also bring or rent blades and practice your pirouettes at the Bill Collier Ice Arena less than a half mile away, or explore the trails that wind through the 3,600-acre property.
The Running Y is also the perfect base camp for experiencing the winter magic of Crater Lake National Park about 75 miles to the north. There you can ski around the rim or along one of several other ungroomed Nordic Trails or take part in a free ranger-guided snowshoe walk. The sight of the sapphire jewel that is Crater Lake in its snowy setting never fails to stun.
3. Take a Sleigh Ride in the Snow
Odell Lake Lodge & Resort is located in northern Klamath County, nearly equidistant from Eugene and Bend. The resort is just 10 minutes from Willamette Pass, making it the ideal headquarters for a ski getaway. Choose from cozy rooms and suites in the lodge, or book a cabin for the whole family. Fuel up on flapjacks or a hearty scramble at the lodge restaurant before heading out for winter play; with the Deschutes National Forest as your backyard, you can access miles of groomed trails directly outside your door. The Gold Lake Sno-Park, just a few miles south on Highway 58, offers a network of looped trails and warming huts. Cross-country skis and snowshoes are both available for rent at the resort.
If you prefer to experience the outdoors without breaking a sweat, the resort also rents snowmobiles and offers guided trips for groups of two or more. The guides can also teach you how to ride if you’ve never done it before. For a longer adventure, consider a guided snowmobile tour to Diamond Lake or the rim of Crater Lake. Or try something entirely new and book a sleigh ride. (They’re popular, so secure your reservation well in advance!) There’s nothing quite like warming your hands around a mug of coffee or hot chocolate while a Clydesdale pulls you and your companions through the snow in a one-horse sleigh.