Fun things to do on Mt Hood in winter
With bragging rights as the state’s highest peak, Mt Hood Oregon is the winter wonderland of the Pacific Northwest.
With downhill and cross-country skiing, sledding, tubing and hiking to frozen waterfalls, a Mt. Hood winter vacation is the perfect place for a frosty, fun getaway. Best of all, most activities have a front row seat to stunning views of the snow-capped volcano.
From the best snowshoeing spots to the top ski resorts, here are some of the best things to do on Mt Hood in winter.
Skiing on Mt Hood
The ski areas on Mt Hood are among the best in the PNW, and the gateway to the top skiing near Portland Oregon. With five different ski areas and over 4,500 acres of skiable terrain, the Mt. Hood ski resorts have something for everyone whether you want to tackle steep pitches of powder, find some quiet on the slopes with your kids, or access the largest night-skiing terrain in the country.
READ MORE: The ultimate guide to the Mt Hood ski resorts
- Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort: The south side of Mt. Hood offers the most variety, with beginner terrain on fun, gentle slopes to steep bowls that will keep advanced skiers on their toes. You can extend the fun through the evening and ski under the lights during Mt. Hood Meadows night skiing operation. Towards the end of the season, warmer temperatures, playful snow conditions, and entertainment during the annual Pond Skim event make Meadows great for spring skiing.
- Timberline Lodge and Ski Area: Take turns in every season at Timberline, the only ski area in North America open 12 months out of the year. Get first tracks by staying overnight at the historic Timberline Lodge, which was built in 1937 and has hosted everyone from presidents like Theodore Roosevelt to movie filmings like The Shining.
- The Cooper Spur ski area: Moderate terrain and affordable lift tickets makes this the best choice for beginners. With 50 acres of beginner and intermediate level terrain, it’s the optimal training ground for new skiers and snowboarders. Just 1.5 miles from the resort, Cooper Spur offers rustic cabins, condos, hotel rooms, and other amenities for a full ski vacation.
- Summit Ski Area: With the most affordable lift tickets on Mt. Hood, Summit Ski Area aims to break down the financial barriers to skiing and focuses on families and community. Built in 1927, it’s the second-oldest continuously operating ski area in the US, and is only 1.5 miles from the town of Government Camp.
- Mt Hood Ski Bowl: This legendary night skiing resort has the most rideable terrain for night skiing in the country – 36 lighted runs and the most black diamond lighted runs. On Mt. Hood, cold nighttime temps and plentiful storms mean powder nights instead of powder days.
Cross country skiing Mt Hood
There are few things more serene than cross-country skiing through the woods when snowflakes lightly begin to fall, with crisp air on your cheeks and miles of wooded forests all around. It’s a unique, family-friendly way to experience the snow-covered meadows, while escaping the crowds.
Teacup Nordic Snow Park is right by one of the entrances to Mount Hood Meadows, and with 20 kilometers of trails and beginner to advanced terrain it’s one of the most popular places for nordic skiing. It links up with Pocket Creek, another fabulous trail through snow-covered woods that has several river crossings and great views.
If you’re newer to the sport, head to the Mt. Hood Meadows Nordic Center which has 16.5 kilometers of trails. With lessons and rentals on-site, everything you need for a day of fun on the snow is in one place.
READ MORE: Pocket Creek: Snowshoeing and cross country skiing on Mt Hood
Sledding on Mt Hood
Kids love nothing more than sliding down snow, and you can practically hear their giggles all the way in downtown Hood River! Little John Sno-Park and White River Sno-Park are both great options for free places to go sledding near Mt Hood.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to bring your own sled, and that only tubes and plastic sleds are permitted in the Mt. Hood Ranger District where the sno-parks are located.
Tubing on Mt Hood
If you don’t have your own sled, three of the ski areas on Mt. Hood offer snow tubing.
Ski Bowl is one of the most popular places to go tubing on Mt. Hood, and its conveyor-assisted tubing hill means less hiking up and more fun zooming back down. Its Cosmic Tubing experience is rightfully popular, when the night sky is lit up with more than 600-thousand colorful LED lights, a laser show and upbeat music. Ski Bowl also has an Adventure Park with an Amaze’n Maze, Frosty’s Playland and Kiddie Snowmobiles for those aged three and up.
At the Cooper Spur mountain resort, kids can ride up the two rope tows then slide down custom tubes provided by the resort. There’s also a free snow merry-go-round for younger kids under 42” tall, making it the perfect place for the whole family to spend a day on the snow.
Snow Bunny Tube Hill has an amazing 20ft snow hill maintained by Summit Ski Area, just for sledding and tubing. You can bring your own sled, or rent a tube from the ski area. Snow Bunny is the best place to go tubing for families staying in nearby Government Camp Oregon.
Mt. Hood snowshoe trails
For a great workout without the adrenaline rush, strap on a pair of snowshoes and head out into the Mt Hood National Forest.
There are countless trails that are great for snowshoeing Mt Hood, like White River Canyon or Tamanawas Falls which is a great spot to see one of the famous Columbia River Gorge waterfalls frozen over.
Being one of the popular hikes near Hood River it’s fantastic in every season, and a well-marked pathway traces the path of Cold Spring Creek towards the falls which are covered in ice crystals during the colder months.
READ MORE: Why Tamanawas Falls is one of the best hikes near Hood River
The Trillium Lake snowshoeing trail is another good option, with gorgeous views of Mt. Hood on the north side of the lake. The trailhead links up with the Trillium Lake Loop Trail, which is shared by both snowshoers and cross-country skiers.
Final tips for enjoying a Mt Hood winter getaway
Permits are required from November through April in designated Mt Hood sno-parks, as well as most ski areas (even though they’re privately owned, they rent out public land.) Permits can be purchased in advance or at most ski resorts.
Check the road conditions and weather forecasts, and be prepared with snow chains since the highways can get slick. NOAA is one of the most accurate weather forecasts for weather, and Oregon’s TripCheck is a good site for road reports.
Places to stay on Mt Hood
If you’re looking for easy access to the ski hills, base yourself in the alpine village of Government Camp which is on the south slope of Mt. Hood. About a one hour drive away from Hood River, it’s just steps away from spots like Skibowl and about 20 minutes from Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline. Try the Best Western Mt. Hood Inn, or The Lodge at Government Camp which has private condos.
The Timberline Lodge has cozy, rustic rooms right on the hill, and the lodge itself is quite historic and worth exploring. If you’re skiing at Cooper Spur, book one of the cabins at Cooper Spur Mountain Resort which have views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.
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Sharon Saltoon is a Columbia River Gorge transplant who loves all things outdoors. When she’s not writing for outdoor publications, you can find her skiing on Mt. Hood, exploring local trails on her mountain bike, and paddling the White Salmon River.