It’s officially autumn here in the Pacific Northwest, which means winter is coming. However, winter in Oregon isn’t what it may seem: endless overcast days and seasonal affective disorder-inducing rain. Getting out of the Portland metro area during the winter opens up a world of opportunities for adventures. So, check the car mirrors, fill up on gas, and hit the road this winter while checking out some of these popular destinations.
Crater Lake National Park is 270 miles southeast of Portland. The park’s main attraction is its namesake: Crater Lake. The lake is the deepest in the United States at a depth of 1,949 feet. Check out a crystal clear blue lake while snowshoeing, skiing, or snowmobiling. The campgrounds and cabins remain closed during the winter, but the lake itself remains open to visitors. If the family is especially adventuresome and has access to a four-season tent, try some primitive backcountry camping along the West Rim Drive. If no one has been snowshoeing before, try it out with a ranger-led snowshoeing tour: snowshoes provided for free!
Make sure to check Crater Lake’s website, as the National Park Service updates it with road and trail closures as they occur. Also, if it’s a cloudy day, check out the park’s webcam before heading out on your adventure. The webcam allows park visitors to see the visibility conditions at the lake without leaving their cozy homes. Make sure the car has the right snow tires, and bring some chains just in case.
Timberline Lodge is a mere 60 miles from Portland, and it’s one of Oregon’s most iconic structures. The lodge is used in the exterior shots from the 1980 film The Shining, and it’s the home of Blue Ox Bar. Timberline Lodge provides tons of winter activities to Portland residents, from snowboarding to tubing. There’s something for everyone at Timberline Lodge, though the rates for an overnight stay can be a bit spendy. A winter visit to Timberline Lodge may be just the antidote for those winter blues. That cure can take the form of skiing down a mountain or eating a buffet dinner served with a specialty cocktail.
Portland residents may be more familiar with Bagby Hot Springs in Mt. Hood National Forest. However, for those looking for a less-crowded and more remote hot spring getaway, check out Belknap Hot Springs on the McKenzie River. Belknap Hot Springs is open 365 days of the year, and they have easy online booking for reservations. Keep in mind that Belknap Hot Springs does not allow walk-in camping after November 1st, but they have cabins, mountain homes, and a lodge available for reservation. Bring along the family pup, too! Belknap Hot Springs only charges a $20 pet fee for its lodge, mountain home, and cabin accommodations. Make sure to check the weather before heading out on that winter adventure. Belknap Hot Springs does not offer refunds due to bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
Visit Sun River and Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Oregon, for winter fun the whole family will enjoy! Located 170 miles from Portland, Bend is a winter-activity haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether the group is into cross-country skiing or sledding, Bend has something to offer. Additionally, the area is home to dozens of cool bars, cafes, and restaurants to try. It’s hard to feel those winter blues when facing some of the most extraordinary winter scenes in the Pacific Northwest. Make sure to pay attention to the scenery during the drive down because the views through Hood and Santiam Pass are incredible.
The Wallowa Mountains in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness is a vast area, so this suggestion is a bit broader than the previous ones. The area includes 360,000 acres of wilderness and is the largest wilderness area in Oregon. For the genuinely adventurous spirits in the family, plan a week-long backcountry backpacking trip. Make sure to bring plenty of supplies and to carefully prepare for the journey, as the Wallowa Mountains are about as remote as it gets in Oregon. However, if anyone in the group is into backcountry skiing or snowboarding, the Wallowa Mountains are the perfect destination!
For those looking for a less-crowded winter resort than Timberline Lodge, check out Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort in Eastern Oregon. The area has a triple chairlift for downhill skiing and snowboarding. Additionally, the resort staff keeps the cross-country ski trails well-maintained all winter long for a more remote skiing experience. If crowds make anyone in the group nervous, Anthony Lakes is a more suitable choice than Timberline. In addition to ski trails, the area hosts multiple scenic hiking trails. For a breath of fresh, winter air, head out east to Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort.
Perhaps all of these options seem a bit too tame for the winter adventure the group wants. If so, consider going to the Columbia River Gorge area and participating in waterfall ice climbing. The Columbia River Gorge is home to many beautiful waterfalls that freeze in the winter. The frozen waterfalls attract thrill-seekers from all over the Pacific Northwest. Even if no one in the family wants to go ice climbing, it’s worth a visit to watch the climbers at work.
Here at Collision Auto Glass & Calibration in Beaverton, Oregon, we are dedicated to getting the family where it needs to go to enjoy the upcoming winter. One of the risks of these kinds of road trips is rock chips obtained from gravel roads. If the family car needs windshield chip repair after an Oregon winter adventure, make sure to contact Collision Auto Glass & Calibration. We even offer mobile services! We’ll come to you, so don’t wait. Call today for an appointment.