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.
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 and Willamette Pass during the winter ski season. Typically these jaunts depart early in the morning from Amazon Park & Ride, arriving at the slopes just as the lifts are opening, and return to Eugene in the late afternoon or early evening. All bus trips require advance reservations.
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.
The River House Outdoor Center, operating with the City of Eugene, also offers occasional skiing and snowshoe tours.
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.
Where to Get the Gear
If your guide doesn't provide it, you can rent or purchase snow equipment from local outfitters. Find quality consigned winter clothing and snow sport gear at Eugene Gear Traders. Other local outfitters include Berg's, which rents ski and snowboarding equipment and sells new apparel; REI, which has apparel and equipment; and Play it Again Sports, which sells used equipment. The UO's Outdoor Program may have gear that is used in association with their programs.
In Oakridge, inquire at the Willamette Mountain Mercantile, Willamette Pass resort or Odell Lake resort for gear. In McKenzie River, Hoodoo is your best bet. Plan on bringing your own sled and snow shoes with you if you are heading to one of the Sno-Parks. Unlike the ski resorts, the parks do not have on-site rentals.
Where to Stay
If you want to maximize your time in the snow, plan to stay overnight in the mountains.
Add to Your Experience
Relax in the hot springs
Hang out in the local brew pub
Plan your return visit in the spring for hiking, fishing and camping
Before you head out, check out our Adventure Checklist to make sure you're prepared for the outdoors. Have fun in the snow!
Play in the snow at Willamette Pass or a Sno-Park, with great sledding hills and snowshoeing trails.