6 Best Oregon Ski Resorts for Beginners

by Simon Knott | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Best Ski Resorts

Oregon has a reputation as having some of the most diverse ski resorts in North America and is blessed with a reliable climate, so snowfall in the 400 in the range is often a given.

Some of the ski resorts in Oregon are nearly the oldest, with Mt. Hood Skibowl harking right back to 1928. However, there is nothing dated about any of our picks, which have well-designed amenities and lessons which are tutored by some of the best skiing and snowboarding professionals.


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Our Top Picks

6. Hoodoo Ski Area

Hoodoo Ski Area is located in a vast region of wilderness as part of Willamette National Forest. Larger towns are few and far between but Salem is 95 miles to the north-west and Eugene is 80 miles to the south-west.

What’s the Skiing Like?

Sitting at the summit of Santiam Pass, Hoodoo Ski Area offers great potential for any beginners. Spanning 800 acres of tree line trails and more than 1000 ft of vertical drop, the resort has 32 named trails and regularly receives a very healthy 360 in (30 ft) of snow each season.

The ability rating for the runs is evenly split with 30% beginner runs, 30% intermediate runs, and 40% expert runs. There are five lifts including three quads and the remote location of the resort should act to limit the number of skiers.

As a break from skiing and snowboarding, floodlit night skiing is a popular activity, which takes place on Friday and Saturday evenings. If you’ve never tried snow tubing then Hoodoo Ski Area is a great place to try it out. Everything is provided for you, you just need to bring a healthy dose of excitement.

The park can also throw a birthday party that includes tubing, lunch, and a special Hoodoo birthday present for one extremely cool birthday any child will appreciate.


Learning to Ski

The instruction team at Hoodoo are well experienced in training youngsters from 8+ right up to adults.

You can choose between private lessons, separate ski, and snowboard lessons for 8-12 and 13+, night-time ski and snowboard lessons, as well as cross-country and Nordic skiing lessons. Lessons need to be booked online at least 24 hours before the start of the class.

Off the Slopes

Hoodoo Ski Area, fortunately, has plenty of local accommodation nearby. The Hoodoo resort’s partner, Black Butte Ranch, offers ski and stay package, with access to the ranch’s spa, hot tubs, sauna, recreation center, and more.

Whether it’s chilling over a pint at the pub, or paying the horses a visit at the stable, spending the night can be as fun as skiing down the pistes themselves.

What We Love About Hoodoo Ski Area:

  • Sizable skiing area with even distribution for all level
  • Incredible off-the-slope activities for the whole family
  • Great lodging options

Hoodoo Ski Area Stats

Summit Elevation:5703 ft / 1738 metres
Skiable terrain: 806 acres

5. Willamette Pass – Crescent

Sometimes it is lauded as ‘one of the best-kept secrets for ski and snowboard enthusiasts in the Northwest’. However,  Willamette Pass – Crescent has earned the title with its blend of picturesque skiing and beautiful forest trails.

What’s the Skiing Like?

Willamette Pass boasts 29 runs with a top elevation of 6683 ft (2037 m) and a total skiable terrain of 555 acres. The mix of runs across abilities provides plenty of scope with 20% designated beginner runs, 45% designated intermediate and 35% designated advanced and expert.

The ski area is divided into two areas, the South face or Alpine and the North face or backcountry area. Beginners will find plenty of challenges in the South face with a dedicated beginner area, as well as numerous greens and blues running back down from the top of Eagle Peak.

Thoughtfully the beginner runs are marked on the trail map. The lift system includes a gondola, five chairlifts, one of which is a high-speed lift for six people, and a magic carpet in the beginner area. Willamette Pass receives a staggering 430 in (10.9 m) of snow per year.

For activities beyond skiing and snowboarding, there is a terrain park, as well as 20 miles of Nordic and snowshoeing trails. If you’re finding your progress with skiing isn’t going as well as you expected, take a day out to try snowshoeing or Nordic skiing in the fir forests for a change.


Learning to Ski

Ski and snowboard lessons start for kids aged 10+ and up to adults. The lessons are broken down into kids’ programs, 1st timer, and learn to ski/board 123, which start daily at 10.30 AM, 11.00 AM, and 1.30 PM and last for one hour. Lift tickets and ski rentals are not included in the price of the lesson.

Off the Slopes

Accommodation for beginner families is luckily available close to the resort. The Willamette Pass Inn features spacious rooms, a kitchenette, satellite TVs, and even an authentic wood-fueled fire. Rooms are designed to accommodate up to 6 guests.

For something a little more private, the whole family can stay in a chalet, complete with a BBQ and patio, hot water and bath, full kitchen, living room, Queen-sized bedroom, and a backup generator.

What We Love About Willamette Pass – Crescent:

  • Picturesque fir forests
  • High-speed, high-capacity ski lifts
  • Long Nordic ski trails
  • Well laid out beginner trails

Willamette Pass – Crescent Stats

Summit Elevation:6683 ft / 2037 metres
Skiable terrain: 555 acres

4. Timberline


Another Oregon ski resort with 80 years of experience of welcoming skiers to its trails each year and it wears its emblem of National Historic Landmark proudly. Timberline is still family operated and it is keen to offer a warm welcome to families of any age.

The resort is located on Mt Hood, which is 50 miles east of Portland and only a further 50 miles to the West coast. The destination was the location for the filming of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

The resort opens for 10 months a year near the top of Mt. Hood for the softer snows of skiing in Summer. The resort has one of the highest peaks on the mountain from the Palmer at 8540 ft. with high-quality snow being the main attraction across the board.

What’s the Skiing Like?

During the winter Timberline often receives quality snow but variable weather conditions. The resort sees several powder days throughout the winter, but not quite as many as at some Washington resorts.

Timberline certainly isn’t the biggest resort, but it does boast a considerable 3690-foot vertical drop across quite varied terrain, which provides plenty of potential for interest on the runs. Timberline has 35 runs and a total of seven high-speed chairlifts.


Learning to Ski

Timberline offers private ski lessons as well as group sessions at the weekend for kids aged 12+. At Summit Pass, located in Government Camp, group lessons are available for youngsters aged 6+. The combination of the gentle slope and the experienced instructors helps to make the learning process fun.

Another main point of interest at Timberline is the world-class terrain parks. Of course, for beginners, this is likely to be a step too far but is well worth taking the time to go and watch some of the acrobatics that takes place

Off the Slopes

The historic Lodge is also not to be missed. The rustic, wood-paneled lodge is steeped in history, as well as being the only on-site lodging in a ski resort in Oregon. Treat the whole family to dinner in the Cascade Dining Room or the more relaxed Ram’s Head Bar and Restaurant.

Larger groups can also stay at the Silcox Hut, a high-alpine hut, which includes free breakfast, host, and on-demand snowcat transport (just like in The Shining!) to ferry whole groups to and from Timberline Lodge.

What We Love About Timberline:

  • Rustic, cozy, and historic Timberline Lodge
  • Located on the shoulder of Mt. Hood
  • Exceptional snow

Timberline Stats

Summit Elevation:8540 ft / 2603 metres
Skiable terrain: 1415 acres

3. Mt. Hood Meadows

Photo by U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0

Mt. Hood Meadows is a medium-sized ski resort where the acreage is about average for the main western US ski resorts. Located on the mountain’s southeastern flank, Mt. Hood Meadows has a reputation for varied terrain and incredible vistas.

Higher than most ski resorts it offers serviced lifts right up to the 7300 ft summit.  This vantage point opens up unobstructed views across 2150 acres of resort terrain.

The proximity to Portland also ensures that everyone will be spending their time and energy enjoying their day out in the snow instead of the long traffic.

What’s the Skiing Like?

Snow should never be a problem at Mt Hood Meadows, as the storms are regular and big, depositing 430 inches (10.9 meters) of snow per season on average.

The higher base elevation at 4523 feet (1379 m) will also help to ensure the snow stays in good repair. The resort has a skiable area of 2150 acres over which 87 named trails run. The higher elevation enables longer runs and the longest at Meadows is over 3 miles. 11 chairlifts ferry skiers to the top of the mountain.

The resort’s runs are divided into 15% beginner, 50% intermediate, 20% advanced, and 15% expert. However, all runs have their own individuality both alpine and below treeline, that keep the experience interesting.

Mt Hood Meadows has well-equipped terrain for beginners. The beginner runs are lower down although they are on an exposed section of the hillside. It’s worth checking the weather daily to see how you may be affected. Luckily the magic carpet in the beginner area is covered, offering good protection.


Learning to Ski

If you’re planning to concentrate on ski lessons and you don’t want constant interruptions, the resort Daycare Center can cater to youngsters from the age of 6 weeks to 11 years old.

A dedicated beginner package each year offers the Toyota Learn to Ski & Snowboard Youth Evening Group Lessons for ages 7-14. Alternatively, day lessons can be booked privately or in groups, where participants are created to ensure the best mix of abilities.

Mt Hood Meadows is proud of its program with the Meadows Learning Center, which provides adaptive lessons for participants with visual, cognitive, or physical impairments. For a change from the trails, Mt Hood Meadows also has terrain parks and pipes for any budding freestylers, which are frequently open and floodlit during the evening.

Off the Slopes

Lodging at the nearby Cooper Spur is one of the highlights of the week and is ideally set up for beginner families. Cooper Spur also offers a discounted lift ticket, and the establishment is dog friendly if your pooch needs a holiday. There are also plenty of cabins and homes for private rent only a few miles from the resort.

What We Love About Mt. Hood Meadows:

  • High elevation, unobstructed panoramic views
  • Varying terrains
  • Trail options for beginners

Mt. Hood Meadows Stats

Summit Elevation:7300 ft / 2225 metres
Skiable terrain: 2150 acres

2. Mt. Hood Skibowl

hood skibowl - oregon
Photo by Mt. Hood Territory At licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mt. Hood Skibowl first opened its doors to skiers in 1928 and as such, it is now one of the oldest ski resorts still operating in North America. Over the years it has developed into a year-round resort with numerous extra amenities beyond skiing and snowboarding.

The resort is approximately 50 miles east of Portland and can consequently attract crowds during weekends and holidays.

What’s the Skiing Like?

The resort is divided into two separate areas, the smaller Ski Bowl west and the larger area, Ski Bowl east, although the two areas are connected by trails. There are 65 runs in total divided into the following difficulties. 20% are classed as beginner, 40% as intermediate, and 40% as advanced.

One advantage to beginners at Mt. Hood Skibowl is the design of the runs, where there are beginner trails available at the top of every chairlift. Night skiing is well organized for those who want quieter slopes or extra practice.


Learning to Ski

Mt. Hood Skibowl offers dedicated beginner lessons to young and old alike. Lessons generally last for two hours and are mostly in groups where the class may consist of students of a wide range of ages, backgrounds, and physical abilities.

For youngsters wanting to improve their snowboard or ski skills, the Children’s Ski School provides lessons for children aged from 5 to 13 years. The kids are separated into groups based on their abilities. Group numbers are kept small to ensure that every child receives undivided attention and guidance under professional, accredited instructors.

Off the Slopes

Mt. Hood Skibowl has numerous activities beyond skiing and snowboarding. Families as a group can enjoy snow tubing and snowmobile tours, as well as guided snowshoeing tours for a leisurely trip through the majestic pine forest.

Accommodation is conveniently close by with Collins Lake Resort offering chalets and grand lodges that are located within walking distance. Alternatively, Lake Simstustus resort hosts small home rentals and RV facilities. The accommodation comes with the usual facilities such as bars, restaurants, heated pools, and hot tubs.

What We Love About Mt. Hood Skibowl:

  • Snow tubing parks, with the Cosmic Tubing as the main attraction
  • Snowshoeing and snowmobile tours
  • Ski school with small groups
  • Cozy slopeside lodgings
  • Local atmosphere

Mt. Hood Skibowl Stats

Summit Elevation:5100 ft / 1554 metres
Skiable terrain: 960 acres

1. Mt. Bachelor

Photo by U.S. Forest Service- Pacific Northwest Region licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0

By lucky coincidence, the snow that falls on Mount Bachelor is routinely light and dry and at the same time, it falls early and late enough to considerably extend the season. The skiable terrain extends over a colossal 4300 acres, most of which is accessible by the lift system.

What’s the Skiing Like?

If you’re arriving at Mount Bachelor as a beginner family, then Mt. Bachelor Daycare Center is a state-licensed day-care center, which can provide you with the extra freedom to concentrate on your lessons. The daycare is aimed at children between the ages of 6 weeks to 10 years old.

Mt. Bachelor has been operating as a ski resort since 1958. The mountain was created by two volcanoes on top of each other, which explains its dramatic appearance.

The highest elevation extends to 9065 ft (2763 m) and there are 3,365 ft (1,026 m) of vertical fall to the base. There are 11 lifts in total accessing over 101 runs, which are rated 15% novice, 35% intermediate, 30% advanced, and 20% expert.


Learning to Ski

The beginner area is just to the left of the West Village Lodge and consists of a short lift and two easy green runs, Milky Way, and Home Run. Another smaller beginner area lies at the base of Sunrise Lodge. It’s easy to progress from these beginner runs to some of the higher greens and blues accessed via the Pine Marten lift.

Progression Park and The Lava Tube trails are also ideal for beginner skiers who want to push their skiing knowledge. The undulating terrain of the volcano provides some great trails through forests and glades. The lessons offered at Mt. Bachelor include half-day or full-day ski and snowboard instruction for kids aged 3 ½ to 5.

For older kids, a Snow Explorer package is for youngsters aged 2 ½ and older. Lunch is also included in the full-day program and can be added optionally for half-day program attendees.

For older beginners, there are 2-hour and full-day lesson options for adults, teens, and youth. There is also a dedicated beginner package which is aimed at adults and teens, ages 13+, and youngsters aged 6-12. The beginner package is aimed at skiers who want to experience skiing or snowboarding for the very first time or the second time.

Off the Slopes

There is plenty of choices when it comes to eating out at Mount Bachelor. with full-service bars, cafes, and mobile kitchens, all the way to Demo Center to try out new gear and many exciting events all year round, there’s no shortage of good time for the whole family. There are numerous local B&Bs, motels, and hotels in the local area.

What We Love About Mt. Bachelor:

  • Wide range of activities for all ages
  • Ski trails that accommodate both beginners and experienced skiers
  • Well-equipped gear shop, with tuning and repair services
  • Rich culinary selections, ranging from light bites, and comfort foods, to local brews

Mt. Bachelor Stats

Summit Elevation:9065 ft / 2763.012 metres
Skiable terrain: 4323 acres

Why Choose Oregon for Skiing

Our top picks for beginner ski resorts in Oregon have everything those starting out on their skiing adventure need. When picking your resort you shouldn’t need to concern yourself with snow coverage; the majority of the resorts experience more than 350 in and several often experience more than 400 in.

Lessons for beginners are all well established for all ages, and you can take your pick between private tuition or saving some cash and having fun in a group lesson. Similarly, the design of resort trails is now well-considered. So, beginners can access lifts and find clearly marked beginner runs from the top of the lift.

See also: 6 Best Oregon Ski Resorts for Families

How Did We Order This List?

To help rank our top selection of ski resorts for this list we compared the following ranking factors:

👨‍👩‍👦 Ranking Factor📈 Power to affect Rank
Amount of Beginner Trails (Mi) 4x
Amount of Skiing Area (Mi) 3x
Cost of two adult tickets + child ticket1x
How many magic carpet lifts1x

We gave each factor its own weighting depending on how important we feel it is for family fun across all ages. For example, a resort with more beginner trails is higher ranked than a resort with a lower-priced family ticket - with all else being equal. Because while cost is a factor, it's not a primary one. We may also use our editorial judgment to remove or add resorts that we believe should make a list. When taking all of this into account, gives us our awesome list above. We hope it was helpful in planning your next family ski vacation.

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Best Ski Resorts for Families In Oregon

See also: Best Ski Resorts for Families in Oregon