by Andrew Collins
But if you haven’t visited lately, you’re in for some pleasant surprises. Since 2017, the organization has pumped more than $1.7 million into improvements mostly from donations, and it’s also easier than ever to get here, thanks to a free shuttle from downtown Ashland and expanded parking on the mountain. “We’ve done as much as possible during the offseason to help make sure everyone who visits Mt. Ashland has an outstanding guest experience,” says general manager Hiram Towle. “It really is all about the local mountain fun here.”
Long one of the state’s favorite winter playgrounds, Mt. Ashland soars to an elevation of 7,533 feet, making it the highest point in the Siskiyou Mountains and the beneficiary of 265 inches of snow annually, on average. Established in 1964 and operated by the nonprofit Mt. Ashland Association since 1992, this 220-acre ski and snowboard wonderland is situated just off of exit 6 of I-5, about 20 miles from downtown Ashland.
With a vertical drop of 1,150 feet and plenty of open-bowl skiing, Mt. Ashland has something for every style and ability. You’ll find 23 runs to choose from, the majority geared to intermediate and advanced skiers, but there’s also a separate beginner area near the lodge that’s ideal for learning how to ski—programs for both younger and older kids are offered, or you can book private lessons. The main trails are served by two triple and two double chairs, and the beginner area has a rope tow.
A New Look at the Ski Lodge
In 2017, Mt. Ashland vastly upgraded and improved its airy, chalet-style ski lodge, which features a cafe and bar and now has a more centrally located rental shop, an additional 1,000 square feet of interior space, a better layout, and a new roof. “We added more high-speed WiFi, blanketing most of the ski area with free high-speed internet access,” adds Towle. “And three new high-definition live-streaming webcams give guests unprecedented views of the slopes from anywhere in the world.”
Mt. Ashland’s devoted employees and hundreds of volunteers are also working hard to get trails into shape in time for opening day. “Because last season was shortened due to low snowfall, managers have focused the efforts on helping the ski area open with less snow,” says Towle.
It’s about a 30-minute drive south of Ashland to reach the recently expanded parking area. Keep in mind, though, that the paved 8-mile road up from I-5 climbs some 2,000 feet, and it’s advisable that you carry chains. Also, a $6 Oregon Sno-Park day-use permit is required to park here. You can simplify matters, however, by riding the free SNOW BUS. It has two stops: Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites and Mt. Ashland. Having only one stop in Ashland makes it possible to offer regular, convenient service to and from the ski area. Check the schedule online.
Mt. Ashland Lodging Partners
Because of its pristine setting within Rogue River National Forest, the ski area isn’t able to offer slope-side overnight accommodations, but Mt. Ashland does partner with several outstanding local hotels and inns. If you book a stay at the Ashland Hills Hotel, Callahan’s Mountain Lodge, the Rogue Regency Inn, or the Stratford Inn, you’ll receive a $7 discount on lift tickets, lesson, and rentals.
Of course, Mt. Ashland is already one of the most affordable ski areas in the Northwest. Lift tickets start at $45 on non-holiday weekdays and $52 on weekends and holidays. You’ll also save a bundle with a season pass, youth ages 7–12 receive a discount, and younger children and seniors ski free. The season kicks off this year on Saturday, December 8, and runs at through at least early April, depending on conditions.