Ski on the Cheap in Hood River, Oregon
Why go in winter: An hour from Portland, OR, Hood River’s famed pear orchards are covered in snow and its sophisticated après-ski restaurant scene is booming.
Base camp: Mt. Hood’s powdery slopes are just 38 miles from town.
Claim to fame: You can ski and windsurf in the same day.
Number of outdoor outfitters: 14
Tough choice: Downhill, nordic, or snowshoe?
Dress the part: Rent the sweetest gear―Burton snowboards, Tubbs snowshoes― at Doug’s Sports (rentals from $15; 101 Oak St.; 541/386-5787).
Pre-ski boost: The extra-frothy cappuccino at Doppio Coffee + Lounge (310 Oak; 541/386-3000).
Après-ski pint: There’s Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom ($; 8 Fourth St.; 541/387-0042) for a pungent Hop Lava IPA, or the Full Sail Tasting Room and Pub ($; 506 Columbia St.; 541/386-2247) for its wassail and a brownie sundae made with Imperial Stout.
New and notable: Sophie’s Restaurant ($$; 1810 Cascade Ave.; 541/386-1183) is creating buzz for wickedly good homemade almond ravioli with white truffle sauce, an instant belly warmer.
Overheard: “Dude, it’s like Vail at one-sixteenth the price.”
More: Plan a day in Hood River
1. The $7 ski day: For easy winter fun, glide around 12 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails at Teacup Snow Park, with glorious views of Mt. Hood, peaceful alpine forests drooping with snow, and a few whiz-bang hills for cheap thrills.
A well-placed warming hut with a woodstove makes an ideal spot for a midday picnic. $7 donation suggested; on State 35.
2. Best deal in town: The Hood River Hotel is nothing fancy, but its prime downtown location, ginormous wood-burning fireplace in the lobby, and Cornerstone Cuisine restaurant ($$) make it an attractive place to stay. As does the fact that guests receive discounted $39 lift tickets for Mt. Hood Meadows. From $89, including $10- per-room breakfast voucher for restaurant.
3. Boutiques worth a browse: If you’d rather shop than schuss, duck into the one-off stores and galleries along Oak Street. Our favorite is Red Feather Mercantile, where you can find Norwegian merino wool blankets in bright sorbet colors, cozy thermal jammies, and hand-knit hats and mittens to chase the brrrs away. 311 Oak St.; 541/386-7341.
4. What’s for dinner? Be honest―it’s the question you’re asking yourself all day out there. Chow down on upscale comfort food, like ribbons of tagliatelle tossed with braised lamb ragù, at the lodgelike Celilo Restaurant and Bar ($$; 16 Oak St.; 541/386-5710).
For a laid-back vibe, belly up to the bar at Sushi Okalani ($$; 109 First St.; 541/386-7423); try the Volcano roll (pictured) with hot “magma” sauce.
5. Take it home: In the market for a baby shower or birthday gift? We can’t resist the kiddie-cute outerwear from Outside Baby―especially the pine tree–printed coats with matching mittens.
This Hood River–based company sets up a temporary retail business in the winter, and it does a brisk mail-order business too. 316 Oak St.
Choose your slope around Mt. Hood:
Tilly Jane Trail For a peaceful walk through a snowcapped old- growth forest, strap on your snowshoes and head to this historic recreation area.
Tilly Jane Trail is a 3-mile stomp that rewards with stunning views of Mt. Hood’s south face and Cloud Cap Inn, the country’s oldest alpine lodge, built in 1889 and now, unfortunately, closed to the public. Off Cloud Cap Rd./Forest Service Rd. 3512; 541/ 352-6002.
Cooper Spur Mountain Resort: Just 23 miles south of Hood River, this small snow park has 10 better-than-decent downhill runs, groomed cross-country trails, and super-fun snow tubing. (You know, the extreme sports version of sledding, complete with rope tow.)
An all-access pass ($35, $30 ages 12 and under) includes a lift ticket plus tube or ski rentals. It’s a great deal for families on a budget. 10755 Cooper Spur Rd.; 541/352-6692.
Mt. Hood Meadows ski resort: For more challenging downhill action, travel about 35 miles south of Hood River on State 35 to “Meadows,” where 11 high-speed lifts whisk skiers to 87 runs that range from the Buttercup beginner hill to steep, forested backcountry routes.
If snowboarding is your thing, practice your alley-oops in the 500-foot-long, 18-foot-high superpipe. Day pass from $57; 800/754-4663.
More winter trips: Snowy getaways