Winter escape to Mt. Hood

Enjoy pristine forests, a crown-jewel lodge, and great new places to stay and eat at Oregon's classic ski destination
Bonnie Henderson

Full story: Hide away on Mt. Hood

If location means anything ― and for a destination ski town, it's almost everything ― then the scenic enclave of Government Camp has always had it made.

An hour's drive east of Portland, at 4,000 feet elevation, it's just inside the winter-long snow zone. Just six miles farther up the mountain is Timberline Lodge, one of Oregon's architectural crown jewels.

And between resort powerhouses Timberline, near the top of the mountain, and Skibowl, at 4,000 feet, skiers and boarders have access to more than 5,000 feet of vertical elevation ― on par with Whistler, Aspen, or Tahoe.

GETTING THERE

Mt. Hood is part of the volcanic Cascade Range, about 50 miles east of Portland. Government Camp is on the south side of the mountain, along U.S. 26. Get road conditions from the Mount Hood Information Center (888/622-4822).

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

Collins Lake Resort. A new Government Camp resort with three-story townhouse condos that sleep 4 to 10 people; guests may use the year-round outdoor pool and spa. From $199; www.collinslakeresortvacations.com or 800/234-6288.

The Lodge at Government Camp. Eight new tall-ceilinged loft suites atop Govy General Store, individually owned and furnished. Some units sleep up to eight guests. From $235; www.thelodgeatgovernmentcamp.com or 800/547-1406.

Timberline Lodge. Guest rooms showcase 1930s-era craftsmanship; all but the small bunk rooms have private baths. Splurge on a room with wood-burning fireplace, and bring a swimsuit for the outdoor pool. Meals in the Cascade Dining Room ($$$; 503/622-0700) feature seasonal Northwest cuisine such as truffled oyster stew and bison rib-eye steak. Rooms from $90; www.timberlinelodge.com or 800/547-1406.

Mt. Hood Brewing Co. Wash down generous portions of pub fare with an Ice Axe IPA brewed on the premises. $$; 87304 E. Government Camp Loop; 503/622-0724.

WHERE TO SKI

Mt. Hood Meadows. More terrain, more lifts (11, 5 of them express), and more steeps make Meadows a top choice. From $49; 10 miles east of Government Camp on State 35 (call for road update); www.skihood.com or 800/754-4663.

Mt. Hood Skibowl. By day, the Bowl's four-chairlift slopes draw the budget-minded, but its claim to fame is its night lighting, with 34 lit runs close enough to Portland for after-work schussing. From $32; on U.S. 26 just south of Government Camp; www.skibowl.com or 503/272-3206.

Timberline. Tradition, and the longest season in North America (it closed for only 10 days last year), bring skiers the first time. They return for the views and the 3,590 vertical feet, accessed by six lifts. From $45; 6 miles northeast of Government Camp on Timberline Rd.; www.timberlinelodge.com or 503/222-2211. 

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