Iconic mountain lodge has it all. (Timberline Lodge/Facebook)
Only one resort in North America spins its lifts in all four seasons. That’s Timberline Lodge Ski & Snowboard Area, hard on the slopes of Oregon’s Mount Hood and beneficiary of both high elevations and the largesse of the Northern Pacific storms.
Both the iconic lodge and a rope tow opened in 1938, and the nation’s longest chairlift (at that time) went in the next season. It’s one of four resorts on Mt. Hood.
Terrain. Like all volcanoes, Mt. Hood slopes at a consistent pitch – the angle of repose for lava rock. Thus, majority of trails rates blue or green; the black diamonds cluster around uppermost Palmer lift in the snowfields. Timberline Lodge sits at treeline, halfway up the hill. Many of the trails radiate down below the lodge, served by three of the five high-speed quads on the hill. Lower mountain blue cruisers, like Uncle John’s Band, Mustang Sally and thigh-burnin’ Kruser, are favorites. Green trails wind around on lower mountain, and a few expert shorties keep things interesting. Terrain parks abound off Stormin’ Norman lift. Up above, the trees fall away, and it’s classic alpine terrain. Famed Magic Mile chair gets you onto the snowfields, and the Palmer chair drops off at high point of 8,500 feet. Want to test your legs? With right conditions, you can ski or ride 3.5 miles from top to bottom. There’s more night skiing here than most, off Pucci and Molly’s chairs. By Memorial Day, the lower mountain is closed. But Magic Mile and Palmer typically run daily to Labor Day, then on weekends through the fall.
Play. Non-skiing distractions are limited. Snow cats run to top of Palmer Snowfield, both in day and on full-moon nights. Snowshoeing takes off from the lodge, which has game room and fitness center, as well as hot tub, heated pool and sauna.
Eat/Drink. One restaurant on the mountain, the Philox Point Cabin near base of Pucci lift, serves tacos, beer and hot drinks. Good selection at the lodge and base area. Hearty mountain fare at café and full bar in Wy’East Day Lodge. Timberline Lodge has several bars with food, and high-end Cascade Dining Room, with elite seafoods. More down the road in town of Government Camp.
Stay. The Timberline Lodge is, of course, the go-to accommodations. Classic ski lodge timber décor, well-appointed rooms and stunning views add up to a high-ground experience. Groups can rent a night at Silcox Hut, a European-style hut on the mountain at base of Palmer Snowfields. Six miles away, Government Camp has a half-dozen condos.
Travel. Portland and its airport are an hour’s drive away. Ample parking by the lodge and base area. A shuttle runs from suburban Sandy to the hill, and another circulates between Government Camp on Hwy. 26 and the mountain. Aspen Limo Tours runs everything from stretch limo to 40-seat bus in and around the area.
Deals. Stay-and-ski packages abound out of Timberline Lodge – everything from midweek to holiday to late-season deals. Condos at Government Camp include lift tickets. Spring pass keeps you skiing and riding through May, and Mt. Hood Fusion Pass includes Mt. Hood SkiBowl. Various season pass options for parents, beginners and occasional visitors. As a member of the Powder Alliance, get three free days Sunday-Friday (restrictions apply) with an anytime season pass to any other Powder Alliance Resort.