6 Hidden Northwest Gems for Skiers

Winter Sports Monday, January 6, 2014 Written by

There’s nothing quite like a day of skiing or boarding in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Thankfully, the many resorts and ski areas sprinkled all over Oregon and Washington means there’s no shortage of alpine options. But you don’t always have to head to the big-name spots. Instead, check out one of these lesser-known slopes to enjoy some new terrain, shorter lift lines and all kinds of fun.

Oregon

Cooper Spur Mountain Resort

Though Timberline, Mt. Hood Meadows and Skibowl grab all the attention on Mount Hood, Cooper Spur Mountain Resort is a fun little gem on the mountain’s beautiful and much less-crowded north side. Home to a double chairlift and 10 short runs for skiing and snowboarding, Cooper Spur also has a beginner rope tow, a tubing run and groomed cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.

Hoodoo Ski Area

Perched on Santiam Pass outside of Sisters, about two hours south of Portland, Hoodoo boasts 32 runs over more than 800 acres of mostly open terrain. This friendly butte is a great place for little ones and beginners, and parents who want to carve turns on their own can drop their kids off at the on-site daycare. There’s also a multi-lane tubing park called The Autobahn, one of the biggest in the West.

Willamette Pass

Just 60 miles outside of Eugene, Willamette Pass has a little something for everyone, from long, mellow runs to steep plungers and a terrain park. The resort’s 555 acres of skiable hills and slopes are accessible via one six-person lift, four triple chairs and a magic carpet ski lift. The mountain’s backside (to the west) is the place to head for a little more elbow room, but just about anywhere up top affords jaw-dropping views of snow-capped volcanoes all around.

Washington

Mt. Spokane

Sure, it’s 320 miles from Seattle, but Mt. Spokane is worth a long weekend or mid-week trip for anyone into sunshine, short lift lines and expansive mountain views. Located in Mt. Spokane State Park, this resort has 45 runs — 16 for night skiing — a mile-long terrain park and a multi-lane tubing hill. Throw in two well-equipped lodges and the charming, historic Vista House on the summit of the mountain, and there’s no excuse not to make the trip.

Stevens Pass

OK, this one’s no secret, but it’s one that can’t be ignored. Because Stevens Pass sits right on the crest of the Cascades, it gets lots of great snow that’s usually a little drier than typical Cascade Concrete. The result: plenty of powder over more than 1,100 acres of terrain. Stevens Pass also offers 17 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails that course around the base of Jim Hill Mountain and into Mill Valley. The trails are also great for skate skiers and snowshoers.

Hurricane Ridge

The westernmost ski area in the lower 48, Hurricane Ridge sits among the gorgeous mountains of Olympic National Park. There is limited groomed terrain at this quaint, family-friendly area, but very limited crowds, too. The backcountry options can also  provide endless fresh tracks for those who enjoy a little adventure.