You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy making snow angels or speeding down a snowy hill. If you're traveling to Oregon during the winter, check out the sno-parks near Mount Hood that are absolutely perfect for wintry family fun.
Mount Hood is about a 2.5-hour drive from Portland. Take a road trip through the scenic Columbia River Gorge region on your way to the spectacular area around the mountain, which reaches an elevation of 11,245 feet, making it the highest peak in Oregon. It's one of several active volcanoes in the Northwest, along with Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier, which are all not too far away.
What Is a Sno-Park?
A Sno-Park is an Oregon state park that’s set aside for recreational activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, tubing and sledding. Oregon has Sno-Parks all over the state. For a complete list, visit the website of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Top Sno-Parks near Portland, Oregon
White River West Sno-Park is a free, undeveloped snow play area at White River on Oregon Highway 35 about 4 miles north of the Oregon Highway 26/Highway 35 junction. You can go sledding or tubing here, or ski or snowshoe on ungroomed, backcountry trails. This is a popular sno-park so expect crowds during the season and especially on weekends. Also, if you're sledding or tubing, stay away from the river.
Little John Sno-Park is a free, developed snow play area 11 miles north of the Highway 26/Highway 35 junction and not far from the town of Hood River. This area is restricted to tubes and discs (no sleds, toboggans, snowmobiles, snowboards or skis). Make sure to take a read through the safety info posted at the park as a fair number of injuries have happened here from people not following the posted rules.
Mt. Hood SkiBowl is south of Government Camp off U.S. Highway 26. It's part of the Mount Hood National Forest. While some snow areas focus only on tubing and sledding, this one offers skiing (as well as some of the best night skiing around!), lessons, rentals, and racing. If you're not up for hurtling down a hill on skis, you'll also find tubing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, cross-country skiing and other ways to play in the snow. In short, there's a lot going on here for all skill levels and those looking for all kinds of different winter activities. Choose from four lodging options and eight places to tame your hunger and have an adult beverage after all day out in the snow.
Summit Ski Area is at Government Camp on U.S. Highway 26, part of the Mount Hood National Forest. It's the oldest continuously operating ski area in the US and the oldest in the Northwest! Summit offers skiing, snowboarding and tubing. This is the place to go if there are beginners in your group, as it has been teaching people how to ski and snowboard since 1927.
Snow Bunny Sliding Area Sno-Park is three miles east of Government Camp on U.S. Highway 26 in the Mount Hood National Forest. This area is great for kids, with a 20- to 30-foot slope for sledding and tubing. It's also a trailhead for snowmobiling, snowshoeing and snowmobiling at Mount Hood.
Are Sno-Parks Free?
There are no lift tickets or admission prices to pay if you intend to tube or sled (if you or someone in your party is out to ski or use the lifts at the places on this list that also offer skiing, that is not free), but vehicles visiting Sno-Parks between November 1 and April 30 must have a current Sno-Park permit displayed in the windshield, but the permit is not tied to any single car so you can bring different vehicles for different visits. If you have no permit displayed, you will get hit with a fine. Sno-Park permits can be purchased for a single day, three consecutive days or an entire season.
Where to Buy a Sno-Park Permit
- DMV offices
- Online at DMV2U
- At many ski resorts, U.S. Ranger offices, sporting goods stores or stores along US 26. For an updated list of retailers who sell permits, check here.
Check the Local Snow Conditions
For current weather conditions, check the website of the Mount Hood National Forest.