Ski Options: All Bundled Up, and Here’s Where to Go!… The Best, the Closest, and the Least Expensive

One of the great things about living in Oregon is the accessibility of the outdoors and the natural world. So every winter, Oregonians load up their cars and head for the mountains. But if you’re new to Corvallis or Oregon, skiing can seem like a daunting expedition—after all, there’s no chair lift on Mary’s Peak. Here are some tips for those seeking advice on how to get in on the fun:

If you are in need of boots and skis or a snowboard, the staff at Peak Sports on 2nd Street in downtown Corvallis is incredibly helpful and can answer any questions you have about gear. They can rent you downhill ski/snowboard equipment for $20 per day for the first two days and $10 for every day beyond that.. They’re also probably more than happy to talk about how the store is solar-powered now, if that piques your interest. Downhill ski areas also have on-site rentals available if you can’t make it to Peak before heading up to the mountain.

There are quite a few local—and local-ish—options on where to go skiing; the price of an all-day lift ticket varies quite dramatically. All of the resorts have loyal customers and if you ask a group of skiers where to go, you’d get a plethora of answers. Here are the basics.

Hoodoo, Willamette Pass, and Mt. Hood Ski Bowl ski resorts are your best options for an inexpensive day on the slopes. Hoodoo is due east of Sweet Home on Highway 20, while Willamette Pass is southeast of Eugene and a little farther from Corvallis. Both are about a two-hour drive. Ski Bowl is east of Portland and about two and a half hours from Corvallis. All-day lift tickets are $49, $45, and $49, respectively. If you have a flexible schedule, however, there are discounts to be had. Hoodoo offers some amazing deals, including Tightwad Tuesdays, where lift tickets are $19 every Tuesday after Jan. 8. Hoodoo also offers a two-for-one deal to those with military IDs every Monday, and has a partnership with participating Shell gas stations where if you buy 10 gallons of fuel, you get a voucher for a free lift ticket.

Moving up in price, there is Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood Meadows, and Timberline. All-day lift tickets for these resorts are $76, $89, and $60, respectively. If you’re dedicated, all of the resorts mentioned in this article offer season passes, which can be a great deal if you’re going to ski often. These three resorts are a bit farther away than Hoodoo and Willamette Pass, but are still manageable for a weekend trip. Both Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows are about two hours and forty-five minutes from Corvallis and Mt. Bachelor is about three hours from town. A note about Mt. Bachelor: the ski resort is only accessible during the winter from Bend and Sunriver; the Cascade Lakes Highway is closed for the winter. So regardless of what your GPS tells you to do, go around Mt. Bachelor and come in from the back side.

If transportation is an issue, Mt. Bachelor offers a bus every Saturday as long as there are enough people signed up to make the trip worthwhile. The bus leaves Peak Sports at 6 a.m. and leaves Mt. Bachelor at 4 p.m. For an adult (19+) the bus ticket and an all-day lift ticket bundle will cost $75. For anyone 18 or younger, the cost is $55. If you have a season pass, you can just pay for the bus ride, which is $26.

This is a great way to avoid the possibility of getting frostbite while putting chains on your car, and chances are you will spend more than $26 on gas alone should you make the six-hour, round-trip voyage in your own vehicle. Jason at Peak Sports recommends coming into the store and making your reservation as early in the week as you can, as the bus has been known to fill up by the end of the week in the past. He would also like to note that Peak Sports simply supplies a location for the bus to pick up skiers and that the bus is run by Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort. Peak Sports has nothing to do with the logistics of the bus.

Skiing is a great winter activity. For the runners and cyclists out there, it provides great exercise during the cold and rainy part of the year. Standing on top of a mountain, above the clouds, is a spectacular view whether you are an expert skier or just getting started. There are many different ways to ski and many different skill levels at each resort, so the next time one of your more experienced friends asks if you’d like to join, say yes and go enjoy a day on the mountain.

by Brendan O’Callaghan