Mt. Ashland provides plenty of downhill thrills; Snowshoes, Nordic skis welcome at Crater Lake

You’re standing at the top of the mountain with your snowboard at the ready.  Preparing to descend for the first of many runs this day, you look down the challenging slope and grin with anticipation.

This is Mt. Ashland. It’s not the most famous mountain in Oregon yet it may be the most enjoyable.

At 7,500 feet on the summit, Mt. Ashland Ski Area is the pinnacle of winter snow recreation in Southern Oregon. Four lifts get you to the top. From there, everything is downhill on your choice of 23 runs, the longest stretching a mile.

With the more famous ski centers to the north and Mt. Shasta to the south in California, Mt. Ashland offers a refreshing change of pace, says Rick Saul, Mt. Ashland Association spokesman.

“We attract people who are looking for a challenge,” Rick says. “Even though our mountain is a little shorter (in distance), we have a pure pitch from the very top of the mountain to the bottom. It’s such a great continuous fall line down the slope. Upper intermediate to advanced skiers are really going to like Mt. Ashland.”

Mt. Ashland is a community-owned non-profit business attracting skiers regionally from Southern Oregon and Northern California. The ski area is only eight miles off Interstate 5 making it the closest ski area to I-5 from Canada to Mexico.

“We think of Ashland as a ski town,” Rick says. “Mt. Ashland and the city of Ashland are a package. I don’t think any other ski town offers the level of culture that we do.”

With the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, great dining and shopping below the mountain, Mt. Ashland becomes a premier ski destination, he says. “Between the town and the mountain, it’s a great combination.”

And don’t worry about running out of snow. Mt. Ashland averages 285 inches a year with the best accumulation in late March and early April. The slope normally stays open until late April.


Nordic Skiing


While Mt.  Ashland is a downhill facility, cross country or Nordic skiing is not far away. Nordic trails and the nearby Grouse Gap Shelter are accessible from the Mt. Ashland annex parking lot. Here’s more information.

Elsewhere in the snow


Snowshoes and Nordic skis


Crater Lake National Park offers two-hour snowshoe walks every Saturday and Sunday through April. The 1-mile walks, starting at 1 p.m. each day, are ranger-guided and make a fun way to explore the park and discover how plants, animals and people survive in the deep snow.

Participants should be at least 8 years old, be in reasonably good physical condition and come prepared with warm clothing and water-resistant footwear. No previous snowshoeing experience is necessary and both the tour and snowshoes are provided free of charge.

Space on each tour is limited, and advance reservations are recommended.  For more information and to sign up, call the park’s visitor center at 541-594-3100.  Also, call for information about private group tours.

Crater Lake is one of the snowiest inhabited places in America, receiving an average of 44 feet of snow per year. Crater Lake National Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day.  The park’s west and south entrances are plowed daily and are open to automobiles throughout the winter. 

The visitor center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Rim Village Café & Gift Shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Spectacular views of Crater Lake can be obtained from Rim Village when the weather is clear.  The park also offers many miles of trails for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

For complete information on all winter recreational opportunities at Crater Lake National Park, download this detailed PDF document.


 Skating spectacular


Klamath Falls - The 10th Annual Figure Skating Spectacular, ICE! CAMERA! ACTION! takes place Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Bill Collier Community Ice Arena at Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls.

The event features Ryan Bradley, the 2011 US Figure Skating Gold Medalist, as well as returning favorite Keegan Messing, the 2009 US Junior Men’s Silver Medalist from Alaska, and Nathan Chen, the 2010/2011 Novice Men’s Champion.

Tickets are available now at Oregon Gift Store on Main Street in Klamath Falls and online through


Find your base camp


Prospect - Prospect Historic Hotel-Motel and Dinner House is a good base camp for your winter wilderness adventure. Located just 28 miles from Crater Lake National Park, the hotel is in the closest full service town, providing all the essentials for your trip including dining, saloon, store, gas and laundry).

Interested in exploring without snow? Walk to one of three waterfalls. The closest is 12 minutes from the Prospect Hotel front door.

Ski and Snowshoe groups receive 10 percent off their first night’s stay, and 20 percent off for two or more nights. Contact the Prospect Hotel at 541-560-3664 or visit the web site -


Mushing Retreat for Dogs


Would your dog like to romp in the snow and find some new canine friends? Would they like to try pulling a dog sled? Crystalwood Lodge has scheduled some Winter Urban Mushing Retreats.”

 The retreats will be available Jan. 13-16, Feb. 17-20 and March 9-11, subject to availability. Here’s the specifics: 3 days, 2 nights lodging + instruction, $285/team (up to 2 people).

A stay at the Lodge includes use of a fully outfitted commercial kitchen—Bring your food and everything else is provided.

This special offer is not available on the website since it is only for dog owners to come play in the snow with their dogs. Call Crystalwood Lodge for more information at 541-381-2322.