Are you heading out West to go skiing this winter? Take your family for a winter trip to Oregon's Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway in the Deschutes National Forest. With more than four ski resorts and the greatest concentration of glaciers in the West, you’ll find plenty of places for both downhill and cross-country skiing in an Oregon landscape full of scenic mountains, lakes, and snow-covered meadows.
Droves of Downhill
Start your ski trip at the beginning of the byway in the town of Bend on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains. From Bend, you are a short driving distance from Hoodoo Ski Resort, Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort, Willamette Pass Resort, and more. Bend draws in outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world because of the variety of recreational opportunities available. You’ll be in great company as you stock up for your invigorating day in the mountains.
If you’re not from the area, you are probably wondering "What in the world is a 'hoodoo'?" A hoodoo is a narrow, unevenly shaped, capped rock formation, like those found in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. How this name became tied to a 5,703 foot-high mountain in Oregon is a mystery! Regardless of the name, Hoodoo Ski Resort is a winter favorite with both locals and tourists because of its smaller crowds and fun winter activities for the whole family. Watch your kids spin and slide their way around the Autobahn Tubing Area or shred the slopes under the stars at a night-skiing event. When you take a break from the 806 acres of downhill ski area, check out almost 10 miles of Nordic trails. Located just 15 minutes north from the byway’s beginnings in Bend, Hoodoo Ski Resort is a great first ski stop.
Having recently celebrated its 50th anniversary in December 2008, Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort remains one of the best known ski resorts in Oregon. Conveniently located on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway about 20 miles from Bend, skiers enjoy an annual snowfall of 370 inches of fresh, dry powder, 3,683 acres of downhill ski terrain, and an impressive 34 miles of cross-country area. Each December, the resort holds a Ski for Schools event. On that day, your ski lift ticket helps fund future scholars of the area— Mt. Bachelor donates all the proceeds to the Education Foundation of Bend. The Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation also hosts several annual skiing events at the resort, such as the Sun Cup Alpine Race (held each February) and the Mike Puddy Memorial Alpine Ski Race (held each April.)
When the Willamette Pass Ski Area opened in 1941, all they had to offer the first skiers was a simple T-bar with a few rope tows. Today, Willamette Ski Resort’s four triple-chair lifts and one six-passenger lift (the latter added in 2002) take skiers up both sides of Willamette Pass to the resort’s 555 acres of mountain terrain. Warm up in their beautiful lodge, built in 1983, and visit the snack bar for a mug of hot chocolate or a steaming bowl of chili. You’ll be right at home at Willamette, only a 10-mile drive west from the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.
If you’re looking for a quiet day of cross-country skiing, take the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway to cross-country ski areas in the Deschutes National Forest, such as Dutchman Flat, Edison Butte, and Virginia Meissner, to name a few. Located within 10 miles of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, these trails, mostly un-groomed, are a great way to get away from the bustle of town and the conventional resorts. Remember, these trails prohibit motorized vehicles. So break out your cross-country skis and your terrain map and experience the natural beauty of Oregon.
At the end of the day, you’ll breathe in the fresh Oregon air as you reflect on all the day’s winter fun and rich outdoor lifestyle. Pack up your family and your winter gear, and head out for an unforgettable outdoor experience on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. The snow is calling!
- Public domain. Photo by Robin Gyorgyfalvy
- Copyright © 1998 Pat Moran.
- Copyright © 1999 Steve Terrill.