When it comes to family-friendly ski areas, unfortunately not all are created equal. Thus, for families looking to maximize both their time and hard-earned dollars, it’s important for parents to identify which areas will be the best fit for them, their kids and their budgets. To help demystify all the options throughout Oregon, we’ve consolidated experience and expertise from the crew at Evo Portland – a local ski and snowboard shop in Portland – to give you the most accurate and up to date details. With winter fast approaching, it’s time to round up your kid’s rental skis, snow gear, and put that rocket box back on the car! Alas, without further ado, here’s a round-up of Oregon’s most family-friendly ski resorts:
Notice: Times reflected below are indicative of a typical drive from Portland, Oregon.
Summit Ski Area | 1 hr 15 min | $
Let’s be honest, taking the whole family skiing is no small task so consequently every win you can secure is important – enter Summit Ski Area. Beyond being Portland’s closest ski area, Summit is also the most affordable ski area on this list, offering minimal “are we there yet” and extra cash for hot chocolate! While Summit’s mild slope and lone chairlift don’t make it ideal for more experienced ski/snowboard families, it’s perfect for those who are trying out the sport for the first time or just want to go tubing on snow. Plus, if you and the kids get cold or tired, Summit has a cozy lodge complete with hot food and warm beverages.
Mount Hood Meadows | 1 hr 25 min | $$
For Portland families who are looking for more of a full-blown resort experience, head on up to Mount Hood Meadows. As the largest of the Mount Hood trifecta, Meadows has everything you need for an extended weekend trip – including an amazing array of camps, lessons, and clubs for kids between the ages of four and fourteen. For parents and those families who are already comfortable on-hill, Meadows’ 2,150 square acre size allows for less crowded runs and enough variety to scratch your explorer itch for years! Teenagers? Don’t miss this area’s awesome terrain park. Non-skiers? Meadows offers guided snowshoe tours that include a chairlift ride and dinner! As the second biggest ski area in Oregon, Mount Hood Meadows is not to be missed.
Mount Hood – Timberline | 1 hr 25 min | $$
With the most iconic views of Mount Hood, you’ll ever experience, Timberline Lodge & Ski Area has mild terrain free from scary steeps and treacherous cliffs. With that, Timberline also has some of the most fun terrains around with “secret” trails that wind through the trees, rolling natural contours, and arguably one of the best terrain park systems in all of Oregon. Plus, for those with younger kids Timberline’s historic, castle-like lodge makes for some of the most memorable hot cocoa breaks you’ll ever have! For non-skiers/snowboarders in the family, Timberline also offers snow tubing, snowshoeing, and snowcat dinner rides.
Mount Hood – Skibowl | 1 hr 15 min | $$
Nestled between Meadows and Timberline is Mount Hood’s most time-proofed resort, Skibowl. Beyond being known as, “The best place in the US to go night skiing” as per Powder Magazine, Skibowl’s homey, old-school lodges and family-oriented amenities make it a great place to take your family skiing/snowboarding while also showing your kids how things looked “back in your day.” As we mentioned earlier, Skibowl has an incredible night skiing scene making it a great choice for more hardcore families looking to log turns after work/school — oh yeah, and speaking of hardcore, did we mention that Skibowl has more black diamond runs than any other Oregon resort? Yep!
Mt. Bachelor | 3 hrs 25 min | $$$
Beating out Meadows as Oregon’s biggest and most robust resort, Mt. Bachelor is roughly 3.5 hrs from Portland, but only ~15 minutes outside the bustling town of Bend. With all that considered, Bachelor is arguably the best resort on this list for longer, multi-day ski trips when you’ll have the time to further explore the massive 4,300+ acres of skiable terrain. Although not known for having super steep slopes, both seasoned vets and novices alike can find enjoyment in Bachelor’s naturally playful terrain and plentiful combinations of open bowls and glades. One thing worth noting, however, is that Bachelor’s upper mountain is often windy and the topmost chair — Summit Express — is regularly closed due to wind. After a day of skiing, families can take to Bend for great restaurants, fun activities (try ice skating at The Pavilion!) and a range of lodging options fit for any budget.
Hoodoo | 2 hrs 15 min | $
A small but beloved area in central Oregon, Hoodoo is arguably the most fun name to say on this list and it’s well-balanced terrain lines up as one of our favorites too. As far as lift tickets go too, this area is one of the most affordable with kids under 7 riding for free and full-day adult tickets under $60. While Hoodoo is indeed small, it offers over 800 acres of terrain housing 5 lifts, 34 runs, and one of the biggest tubing parks (“Autobahn”) in the West. If you’re worried that this quaint little resort won’t be able to keep you and your youngsters occupied, think again! Last but not least, if you’re looking for good family-friendly lodging options, check out the cute little town of Sisters, Oregon — just a short 25 min drive from Hoodoo. Sisters delivers a fun and relaxed environment with a bit of an old western style, complete with saloons, sleigh rides, etc.
Willamette Pass | 2 hrs 45 min | $
If you’re looking for a smaller, relaxed, and affordable resort with incredible snow, look no further than Willamette Pass! Despite its relatively small size (just 4 chairlifts and 555 acres), Willamette Pass has compelling terrain that’s ideal for families with already competent skiers — think blue squares and black diamonds. Beyond affordable lift tickets, the area also offers hourly lift tickets for $15/hour — allowing those who are just looking to get their ski legs underneath ‘em the flexibility they need.
So there you have it! Although it can seem daunting to rally the troops, load up the car, and venture into the mountains, we can assure you that the lifelong memories (and yes, even the meltdowns) that come from days spent in Oregon’s winter wonderlands will all be worth it.