Travel

The 9 Best Ski Destinations Within 4 Hours of Portland

You could use a little adventure.

Good news, powder junkies: Leaders of Western states have deemed mountain sports “essential,” and both Oregon and Washington are onboard. As with most leisure activities in these strange times, a handful of special restrictions are in place to keep everyone safe and COVID-free. That said, donning a mask in 20-degree air and keeping 6 feet away from others should feel pretty natural to most alpine enthusiasts. Lodge operations are pared way back for the time being, though that may change by the time you read this. Either way, we recommend planning ahead and considering aprés-ski tailgating in lieu of more enclosed options. Some resorts are on a reservation-only system, though that’s subject to change at any minute as well (looking at you, Timberline Lodge). So read on for a list of excellent ski and snowboard options within a reasonable distance from the Portland area, and be sure to check each resort's site in advance to brief yourself on the hoops you have to jump through so you can properly send it.

Mt. Hood Ski Bowl

Government Camp, Oregon
Distance from Portland: 59 miles; 1 hour 20 minutes
Located lower on Mt. Hood than its more upscale brethren, Ski Bowl is king of the mountain in terms of accessibility. Its eastern entrance is just a quick walk across the bridge over US-26 from Government Camp, which means you can leave the car at the AirBnB and hoof it in lieu of trolling endlessly for parking. The beloved night skiing option makes the idea of hitting the mountain after work in Portland a realistic goal, and our frigid fingers are crossed for a return of the 40%-off Tuesday Ladies’ Night tickets to top it all off. Ski Bowl’s highest peak hosts both green and double-black trails, which means even newbies can get a gander at the vast expanse below before. A snow-tube area is a bonus for parties with children (or terrified adults) in tow, making Ski Bowl the go-to for groups of all ages and experience levels.
Find AirBnB nearby: Search Government Camp, Welches, or Rhododendron

Timberline Lodge

Government Camp, Oregon
Distance from Portland: 66 miles; 90 minutes
With its iconic namesake lodge closed to anyone but overnight guests (for now, at least), there’s never been a better time to visit this historic monument to all things mountainous. The throngs of under-dressed tourists popping in to see where the exterior shots of The Shining will be elsewhere, and in their place will be chained-up Subarus and SUVs packed with delighted skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels. Up top at around 8,000 feet is the Palmer Glacier, which transitions smoothly from a shimmering expanse of endless turns to one of the most popular terrain parks (and the only in North America that’s open year-round!) in the Pacific Northwest. Below that is a wonderland of wooded trails, steep double-black drop-offs, and just about everything between. Timberline is known regionally as the slopes of the proletariat, and the afternoon lot scene is often a reflection of the relatively socioeconomically diverse fanbase the resort has accrued over the years. From Rainier-swilling dirtbags with ratty conversion vans to Rad Dads with kitted-out Sprinters, Timberline truly offers something for everyone. 
Find AirBnB nearby: Search Government Camp

Mt. Hood Meadows

Mt. Hood, OR
Distance from Portland: 71 miles; 95 minutes
If the scene at Timberline is a Phish show, then Mt. Hood Meadows is more akin to a Steely Dan gig in a stately theater; heady and freewheeling, yet refined and a tad more appealing to the old-money demographic. The crown jewels of Meadows are the series of hellishly steep double black diamond trails accessed by the Cascade Express, as well the jaunty, woodsy blue runs fed by the Stadium Express lift on the lower boundaries. Sophisticated snowshoe and cross-country options abound as well.  Assuming they re-open in some capacity, Meadows offers the tastiest food options on the mountain, with the new-ish Sahale Lodge slinging a variety of cuisines inspired by all corners of the world yet filtered through the lens of the Pacific Northwest. 
Find and AirBnB nearby: Search Parkdale, Odell, or Hood River

Cooper Spur

Mt. Hood, OR
Distance from Portland: 91.3 miles; 1 hour 40 minutes
Skiers and snowboards with a softspot for the small guy will love the quaint and compact Cooper Spur Ski Resort. With a handful of smooth and straight blue hills, along with a small but mighty black hill in Accelerator, the north face of Mt. Hood is a fine place to spend a weekend morning with the family (or a crew of hungover novices who partied too hard in Hood River.)
Find and AirBnB nearby: Search Parkdale, Odell, or Hood River

Teacup Lake

Mt. Hood, OR
Distance from Portland: 70.4 miles; 1.5 hours
Teacup Lake is like the neighborhood co-op of ski resorts. The 20km+ of nordic cross-country trails are managed by the US Forestry service and groomed by a crew of volunteers, which is sure to warm the heart and stoke the excitement of even the most hardened anti-capitalist outdoor enthusiast. Passes are a paltry $10 at the trailhead, though you’ll also need an Oregon Sno-Park Permit to park at the lot near the entrance. If you’re burnt out on the Goretex-clad leisure class that packs out Meadows and Timberline on a regular basis, then this breezy jaunt through the woods may be just what the doctor ordered  
Find and AirBnB nearby: Search Parkdale, Odell, or Hood River
 

Hoodoo Ski Area

Sisters, OR
Distance from Portland: 134 miles; 2.5 hours
An extra hour of driving is well worth it to escape the hustle and bustle of Hood with a trip to Hoohoo instead. Situated atop the Santiam Pass just east of Salem, Hoodoo is great for intermediate skiers and boarders who want to up their game on a generous selection of brisk blue hills. Advanced shredders will love the  panoramic view of Mt. Jefferson poking out of the Willamette National Forest before they bomb Grandstand, arguably the most iconic and daunting run on the mountain.
Find an AirBnB nearby: Search Sisters
 

Willamette Pass

Crescent, OR
Distance from Portland: 175 miles; 3 hours
Situated just over an hour southeast of Eugene, Willamette Pass is the go-to for scrappy U of O students and denizens of the Bend area who need an escape from the nouveau riche transplants that have flocked to central Oregon over the past decade. Undergrads may find themselves elsewhere this season, which means there should be a bit more room on the slopes for intermediate skiers and snowboarders who revel in the views of Odell Lake as they careen down the many blue runs that grace the resort. A sophisticated network of cross-country trails wind around the western face of the mountain as well. 
Find an AirBnB nearby: Search Crescent and La Pine

Mount Bachelor

Bend, OR
Distance from Portland: 198 miles; 3 hours and 40 minutes
The staggering beauty of Bend is one of the worst kept secrets on the West Coast at this point, but it’s easy to see why everyone loves this funky little Central Oregon high desert town to death. The debate over whether the seat of Deschutes County shines brighter in the summer or winter is far from settled, and it likely never will be. Regardless, thrill-seekers from up and down the 5 have been making the pilgrimage to Mount Bachelor for generations, and you really can’t say you’re an Oregonian until you’ve taken a tumble down one of its many icy slopes. It’s the highest and largest resort in Oregon, with a 2,763 meter peak and over 100 kilometers in slopes that range from craggy, crystalline faces to gentle declines that are suitable for first-timers of any age. Bachelor is, and likely always will be, the crown jewel of the central cascades. 
Find and AirBnB nearby: Search Bend, Redmond, Sisters, or Sunriver

Crystal Mountain

Enumclaw, Washington 
Distance from Portland: 204 miles; 3 hours and 30 minutes
Anyone who's spent the day wandering around The Couve in a boozy stupor will agree that it’s fun to do Oregon things in Washington just to feel like you’re on vacation. Lucky for us there’s plenty of gnar to shred on Mt. Rainier, which is about the same distance from Portland as every ex-Californians surrogate for Tahoe-in-the-desert (see above). At Crystal Lake you’ll find a plethora of blistering black diamond runs that take up almost half of the resorts map, along with jaunty blues that dart and dash through one thicket of evergreens after another. It’s a vast and challenging escape for Oregonians who’ve grown tired of the same old up on Hood, and it’s well worth a visit on a long weekend or a day of playing hooky from your million Zoom meetings. 
Find an AirBnB nearby: Search Enumclaw or Greenwater

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Pete Cottell was roped into the snowboarding world in 2013 when a kind stranger on the internet told him Mt. Hood is a great place to live in a van. Follow his misadventures on the mountain at @Vanifestdestiny.
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