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How To Get To The Snow

Published: January 17, 2022


If you want to have a day or two to play in the snow this winter, the Cascade Mountains are calling! Just an hour from downtown Eugene, there are several options for making the most of a snowy adventure. Here are a few of our favorite ways to play in the snow.

Go with a Guide on a Customized Tour

Local tour guides make it easy to enjoy snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and even snow camping. As packages, transportation and group minimums vary, please check directly with the guide service. For example, the Cascades Outdoor Center based in Westfir provides snowshoeing expeditions with a picnic lunch. Gear is not included but they do have snowshoe rentals available.

Snow Camping Tent Site by Joey Jewell

Snow Camping Tent Site on a Guided Expedition

Photo: Joey Jewell

Take a Shuttle Bus to the Ski Resorts

Depending on snow levels and demand, PNW Rides offers a shuttle bus on select days to Mt. Bachelor, Hoodoo or Willamette Pass during the winter ski season. Typically these jaunts depart early in the morning from Amazon Park & Ride, arriving at the slopes just after the lifts have opened, and return to Eugene in the late afternoon or early evening. All bus trips require advance reservations.

Salt Creek Sno Park

Snow sledding in the Cascade Mountains

Photo: Emily Forsha /

Join an Adventure Group on an Outing

REI offers occasional cross-country and snowshoeing orientations at their Eugene location. Watch their calendar for group treks to nearby Sno-Parks including cross-country for beginners or moonlight snowshoeing. They also offer virtual sessions on snow sport and safety basics.

The University of Oregon's Outdoor Program rents snow gear and leads field trips for snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding. To participate, you must either be a UO student or join as a "community member" paying nominal annual dues.

In collaboration with Berg's, Hoodoo and the River House Outdoor Center; the City of Eugene also offers skiing and snowshoe tours.

Snowshoeing at Willamette Pass by Hayley Radich

Snowshoeing at Willamette Pass

Photo: Hayley Radich

Drive Your Own Car

If you have a car with the required tires and/or chains, you can drive directly to the snow. Please check weather and road conditions first. The closest Sno-Park to Eugene is Salt Creek Falls which offers a maintained parking lot and restroom. Snowshoe to a spectacular waterfall or romp on the sledding hill. Other Sno-Park destinations include Gold Lake, ideal for cross country skiing; and Waldo Lake, most popular for snowmobiling. You will need to purchase Sno-Park permits in advance (required November - April), as passes are not sold onsite.

The closest ski resort is Willamette Pass, just past Oakridge/Westfir. They offer downhill runs and Nordic trails. Next there is Hoodoo, just past the McKenzie River region. Hoodoo has downhill runs, Nordic trails, night skiing and an autobahn tubing park. Further on is Mt. Bachelor.

Salt Creek Sno-Park Sledding by Taj Morgan

Salt Creek Sno-Park Sledding

Photo: Taj Morgan

Where to Get the Gear

If your guide doesn't provide it, you can rent or purchase snow equipment. Find quality consigned winter clothing and snow sport gear at Eugene Gear Traders. Other local outfitters include REI and Play It Again Sports (used equipment). The UO's Outdoor Program may have gear that can be used in association with their programs. And finally, Berg's provides rental ski and snowboarding equipment, or you can make arrangements to rent directly on the mountain.

In Oakridge, inquire at the Willamette Mountain Mercantile, Willamette Pass resort or Odell Lake resort. In McKenzie River, Hoodoo is your best bet. Plan on bringing your own sled and equipment with you if you are heading to one of the Sno-Parks. Unlike the ski resorts, the parks do not have on-site rentals. 

Berg's Ski Shop in Downtown Eugene by Melanie Griffin

Shopping Snowboards at Berg's Ski Shop in Downtown Eugene

Photo: Melanie Griffin

Where to Stay

If you want to maximize your time in the snow, plan to stay overnight in the mountains.

What Else to Do

Before you head out, check out our Adventure Checklist to make sure you're prepared for the outdoors. Have fun in the snow!

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Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.