Oregon ski areas: 'Hey, we have snow!' – Statesman Journal
If officials at the three largest ski areas in Oregon could stand atop a mountain with a bullhorn heard across the state, they would have a very simple message for Oregonians:
“We. Have. Snow!”
Despite a second year of historically low snowpack statewide – just 14 percent of normal in western Oregon – the highest ski areas have plenty of terrain open for riders.
Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood Meadows have all struggled a bit this season, but heading into the economically important Presidents Day Weekend, they want to change the perception that the mountains are a barren wasteland of dead grass.
“Yes, we’re down compared to what we’d see in a normal year,” said Dave Tragethon, spokesman for Mount Hood Meadows. “But because we can connect to the upper mountain, we still have more than enough snow to present a great experience.”
Drew Jackson at Mount Bachelor pointed out that the Central Oregon resort has 92 inches at mid-mountain, which is the deepest in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Montana.
“One hundred percent of our chairlifts will be in operation this weekend serving more than 2,500 acres of terrain,” Jackson said. “Although our snowfall has been below average, the mountain is still very well covered.”
The magic number for snow this season has been around 6,000 feet.
All those above it – Bachelor, Meadows, Timberline, Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort in Eastern Oregon and Mount Ashland Ski Area in Southern Oregon, are currently open. Crater Lake National Park is also a good option for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing, with 37 inches of snow.
For the ski areas below 6,000 feet, however, this season has been a nightmare.
Hoodoo Ski Area on Santiam Pass was open briefly in January, but had to close after 11 days and currently has just two inches. The story is similar at Mount Hood Skibowl, Willamette Pass Resort and a host of others.
The situation is so dire at lower elevation sno-parks – access points on mountain passes geared to Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling – that national forests are asking people to stay away.
Jean Nelson-Dean, spokeswoman at Deschutes National Forest, took the unusual step of recommending that those who want an adventure this weekend avoid snow.
“We just want to encourage people to do maybe some of the activities at lower elevations,” Nelson-Dean told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “There are opportunities to bike and hike and do those kinds of what would be more like spring-like activities.”
No sno-parks on Santiam, Mckenzie or Willamette passes have adequate snow for winter recreation.
Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for seven years. He is the author of the book “Hiking Southern Oregon” and can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Facebook at Zach’s Oregon Outdoors or @ZachsORoutdoors on Twitter.
SKI AREAS AROUND OREGON
Mount Bachelor: open
Mount Hood Meadows: open
Timberline Lodge: open
Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort: open
Mount Ashland: open
Mt. Hood Skibowl: open for inner tubing, closed for sking
Hoodoo Ski Area: closed
Willamette Pass: closed
Spout Springs: closed
Cooper Spur: closed
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