Snowboarding at Mt. Ashland. / Mt. Ashland photo
The snow is falling and it’s time to grab your gear and get outside. Whether you like speed, scenery or simply silence, there’s plenty to do here each winter. Here's some recreation information about downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country or Nordic skiing, snowshoe access at Crater Lake and throughout Southern Oregon.
Downhill and Snowboarding
You’re standing at the top of the mountain with your snowboard at the ready. Preparing to descend for the first of many runs this day, you look down the challenging slope and grin with anticipation.
This is Mt. Ashland Ski Area. At 7,500 feet on the summit, it's the pinnacle of winter snow recreation in Southern Oregon. Four lifts get you to the top. From there, everything is downhill on your choice of 23 runs, the longest stretching a mile.
Mt. Ashland offers a refreshing change of pace when you visit the area, says Hiram Towle, Mt. Ashland general manager.
“What sets us apart more than anything is the vibe. We have a very friendly atmosphere that is authentic and genuine,” Towle says. “We often get kudos for our staff being outstanding at providing world class guest service.”
The Mt. Ashland ski season traditionally starts the second week of December based on snowfall. There have been Thanksgiving openings on record, Towle says. “We run into April as long as the weather allows.”
Mt. Ashland is a community-owned non-profit business attracting skiers regionally from Southern Oregon and Northern California. The ski area is only eight miles off Interstate 5 making it the closest ski area to I-5 from Canada to Mexico.
“The steep skiing here is second to none in terms of an affordable, convenient community mountain, but we also have a very unique learning area with attributes not found at most ski areas,” Towle says. “Even the most experienced skiers can appreciate the technical lines offered here, but they won't pay big mountain prices. Our lift ticket price is less than half the national average, and we are a nonprofit so all the money you spend here goes into operating and making a better community ski area for future generations.”
For more information and current conditions, visit the Mt. Ashland website.
A Crater Lake National Park ranger leads an interpretative showshoe tour.
Snowshoes, Nordic Skiing and Snowmobiles
Grouse Gap Nordic Trails - While Mt. Ashland is a downhill facility, cross-country or Nordic skiing is not far away. Nordic trails and the nearby Grouse Gap Shelter are accessible from the Mt. Ashland annex parking lot. Here’s more information.
Oregon also features a network of public Sno-Parks that provide great access for cross-country and snowshoe enthusiasts.
Crater Lake National Park offers two-hour snowshoe walks every Saturday and Sunday through April. The 1- to 2-mile walks, starting at 1 p.m. each day, are ranger-guided and make a fun way to explore the park and discover how plants, animals and people survive in the deep snow. Walks are also offered on weekdays in late December and early January.
Participants should be at least 8 years old, be in reasonably good physical condition and come prepared with warm clothing and water-resistant footwear. No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary and both the tour and snowshoes are provided free of charge.
Walks depend on current weather conditions. Space on each tour is limited, and advance reservations are recommended. For more information and to sign up, call the park’s visitor center at 541-594-3100. Also, call for information about private group tours.
Crater Lake is one of the snowiest inhabited places in America, receiving an average of 44 feet of snow per year. Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day. The park’s south entrance is plowed daily and are typically open to automobiles throughout the winter. Weather conditions change and it's important to check the park's website before driving up. The north entrance and Rim Drive are closed during winter months.
The visitor center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spectacular views of Crater Lake can be obtained from Rim Village when the roads are clear. The park also offers many miles of trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
For complete information on all winter recreational opportunities at Crater Lake National Park, see the park newspaper online.
The state of Oregon provides recreational Sno-Parks for sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and more. There are several locations from Lakeview and Klamath Falls to the east all the way to Page Mountain west of Ashland.
You must have a valid Sno-Park permit between Nov. 1 and April 30. Each of these areas are posted with signs identifying them as a "winter recreation area." See information about permits, provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
For information about Sno-Parks in Southern Oregon, see these lists:
Lake of the Woods - This mountain lake and its namesake resort are popular destinations no matter the season. The resort becomes a great base camp each winter whether you want to Nordic ski, snowshoe, take out the snowmobile, skate or get in some time ice fishing.
Snow typically arrives any time after Halloween and stays through May, resort manager George Gregory says. “The lake usually develops ice by mid-December and can last until March or April. Winter activities can last late into the spring for skiers while snowmobiling usually tapers off in March.”
There are four Sno-Parks in the immediate vicinity of Lake of the Woods and about 360 miles of groomed snowmobile trails extend from there, Gregory says. For example, the Rainbow Bay Sno-Park is located across the street from the Lake of the Woods marina.
The lake itself creates an entertainment arena right by the cabins. Start by lacing up the skates and taking a few turns on the ice. If fish are on the mind, the resort rents ice augers, tents and sleds for anyone interested in ice fishing. The Marina Pizza Parlor and grill is open Friday through Sunday from October through March for anyone looking for something to eat or a place to warm their hands.
For information about Lake of the Woods resort, visit the website.
Once you arrive, you’ll want to spend a few days here. Consider some of these options:
Lake of the Woods Resort has 34 cozy cabins from which to choose. Visit the website to see your options and winter specials.
Lodging near Crater Lake
Running Y Ranch Resort, north of Klamath Falls, provides luxury comfort. The Ruddy Duck restaurant draws high praise and the spa awaits you after an active day in the snow. The patio fire pit is inviting as well.
Union Creek Resort, located less than 25 miles from Crater Lake Lodge, is close to plenty of snow opportunities. The resort has a place in regional history and offers cabin and room options for families and groups up to 14 people, some with full kitchens and dining rooms.
Prospect Historic Hotel is a good base camp for your winter wilderness adventure. Located just 28 miles from Crater Lake National Park, the hotel is in the closest full service town, providing all the essentials for your trip including dining, a store, gas and laundry. Contact the Prospect Hotel at 541-560-3664 or visit the website.
For places to stay in around Southern Oregon cities, check our lodging directory.