The scene: Timberline (timberlinelodge.com) sits high on glaciated Mount Hood, offering stunning views and year-round skiing on its upper section. Summer is the busiest time here, as nearby Meadows offers twice as many runs and one-third more skiable terrain, but the historic lodge and laid-back vibe attract a dedicated following. Magic Mile, the longest ski lift in the world when it was built in 1938, has been replaced by a high-speed quad that starts at the treeline and drops off riders just below the Palmer lift, which takes you up to the resort’s mildly sloping but extremely gusty peak. In winter, enjoy the warmer wooded sections toward the bottom, which melt to slush by April.
The cost: Adult lift tickets are $60 on weekdays, $66 on weekends and holidays.
Best feature: Elevation and direction assure that it never, ever closes. You won’t find a better vibe anywhere—on a nice day, look for riders to hang out with and enjoy a beer. MARTIN CIZMAR.
Mt. Hood Meadows
The scene: Though it doesn’t reach Timberline’s heights, Meadows (skihood.com) is the nouveau-riche big daddy on the Mount Hood slopes, with 11 lifts and over 2,000 acres of skiable area. It’s also the site favored most by high-speed cannonballers and super Xtreme snowboarders, with savage expert-only runs accessible only through controlled gates, along other readily accessible high-speed runs and suicide-worthy terrain features. The volume of shredders and racers seems to create problems for park maintenance, however, and more intermediate skiers might do well to favor Skibowl or Timberline.
The cost: $89 in peak season, with $30 night skiing in a severely limited area.
Best feature: Like to go fast? You can go fast here. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
The scene: Skibowl (skibowl.com) is the nearest to Portland of any snow site—and so the natural province of the cherry pickers of the world, the teenagers and party drunks warming their cockles at the Bierstube and the midslope Warming Station. Despite being half the size of Meadows, Skibowl remains endlessly accommodating, providing wide varieties of terrain; day and night skiing; and backwoods solitude along the slowly drifting Skyline or plummeting Outback trails. Its low elevation, however—between 3,000 and 4,500 feet—can lead to some icy refreezing and a shortened season.
The cost: All-day tickets are $69, but the budget-conscious buy the $32 night tickets or $49 “shift tickets.”
Best feature: Did we mention the Warming Station serves beer midslope? It does. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Summit & Snow Bunny
The scene: Skiing on training wheels and tubes for tots. Not a knock: these two things are terribly necessary. The people running Summit (summitskiarea.com) know their crowd is more family-oriented than at many sites, and thus separate various tubing and skiing areas for different age brackets, from toddlers to teens to the “adult tubing” area, which, given the name, should involve much more polar-bear nudity than it ever does.
The cost: Lift tickets are $35. Tubing at Snow Bunny is $20 adults, $10 kids.
Best feature: Snow Bunny remains the best tubing spot on the mountain, despite Skibowl’s cosmic-psychedelic night-time hoo-hah. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
The scene: Cooper Spur (cooperspur.com) is a wee resort in the eastern foothills of Mount Hood. There’s only one two-person chairlift carrying you up 350 feet (one-tenth of Timberline’s vertical rise), but the runs are well-groomed and uncrowded. If you’re with a beginning skier, go here. The tiny lodge—you don’t even lock up your shoes—and gentle slopes offer a friendly welcome to the sport. An average skier could cover all the terrain in less than an hour, and the lone black diamond is basically a narrower version of the blue run next to it, but it offers more diversity than its western slope competitor, Summit.
The cost: A modest $28. And Cooper Spur’s rentals are only $18, which is cheaper than you’ll pay off-site most places.
Best feature: A decent variety of terrain in a small area; cheap lift tickets and rentals that make it a great place to learn. MARTIN CIZMAR.
The scene: Mt. Bachelor resort (mtbachelor.com) is east of the Cascades, meaning it gets comparatively dry, fluffy powder. It’s also huge—Oregon’s largest resort and the sixth largest in the country. Even with a whole weekend on the seven high-speed quad lifts, you’re unlikely to make it down every run. Bachelor also has plentiful resort housing in the area, which can make it feel a little like a giant time-share village full of well-heeled accountants. They’re joined by snowboarders keen to try America’s best superpipe and three massive terrain parks.
The cost: Lift tickets are $76 a day or $125 for two days if you buy in advance.
Best feature: Light, fluffy powder that’s very rare on the wet side of the Cascades, and the state’s largest and most diverse terrain. MARTIN CIZMAR.
The scene: Teacup (teacupnordic.org) is adorable. I’m not talking about the tiny eponymous lake, or about the 20 kilometers of regularly groomed, tightly winding trails. I’m talking about all the pint-sized snow bunnies you’re likely to encounter while cross-country skiing this system of trails in the Mount Hood National Forest. Teacup Lake is a prime family destination, with plenty of flat trails and a cozy warming cabin. But in addition to the classic tracks, most of the trails have central skating lanes for swift, Lycra-clad demons, and there are a handful of heart-pounding (it’s all relative) hills. The setting is bucolic, the views are spectacular and the freshly fallen powder muffles the voices of all those children.
The cost: $10 suggested donation.
Best feature: Wahoo Gulch might be the steepest hill, but Screamer Hill—at 1.2 kilometers—is the longest, allowing for some real speed. REBECCA JACOBSON.