Willamette Pass Resort
Willamette Pass Resort is one of the great secret ski areas of the Northwest. When Willamette Pass Ski Resort gets decent snowfall it’s really good, and with an average snowfall of 430 inches (10.9m) per season it’s often good! While it’s not well-known compared to some other Oregon ski resorts, Willamette Pass has a lot of trademarks. The Pass has the only six-pack lift of the Oregon ski areas and it has the steepest run in the Pacific Northwest (52 degrees in places!).
Willamette Pass Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Willamette Ski Resort is reasonably small with only 555 acres (225 hectares) of skiable terrain, 29 trails, 476 metres (1,563 ft) of vertical, and 5 chair lifts and a magic carpet. However it packs some punch, especially for expert riders.
When the snowfall is adequate, the terrain at Willamette Pass is better than a lot of the big ski resorts out west. There is an area named by locals as SDN (Steep Deep and Narrow), and this area lives up to its name. The area is well protected from any sun exposure. The rest of the mountain can get sun and turn into spring skiing, while SDN still holds fresh powder lines. When the big ski resorts have been tracked up and turned into a mogul field, Willamette Pass locals are still going into the trees and finding powder stashes. With all of the well shaded areas at Willamette Pass, you can still be skiing powder a week after the last snowfall, especially in December and January!
For a small ski area, Willamette Pass has A LOT of side country. Pulpit Rock is nearby and is a great place to make backcountry laps right next to the resort. Maiden Peak offers an all-day adventure that can be assisted with the lifts accessing some back bowls and also some excellent tree skiing. Then there is West Peak which can be lapped from the lifts in-bounds. You have to climb about 100’, but you are rewarded with at least 700 vertical feet of powder skiing.
For those who aren’t into off-piste tree skiing, there are 29 piste runs at Willamette Pass Ski Resort. The lower mountain offers great beginner runs (20% of trails) and whilst 45% of the trails are rated for intermediates, in reality the intermediate terrain at Willamette Pass is a little bit limited. Some of the runs are great for steep skiing; everyone loves to ski the northeast facing backside! For those who want to ski or ride a really challenging run, there is RTS. RTS was built as a speed skiing course, but is now used as a great way to ski steep terrain.
Willamette Pass in-bounds is great for all levels of tree skiers. The tree skiing has everything you could want. For those just getting started there are easy, well-spaced trees as well as open powder meadows. For more advanced tree skiers, you can get as crazy as you want! There are trees next to RTS that are even steeper than the run itself.
Where is Willamette Pass Oregon?
Willamette Pass is located in the Cascade Range, 70 miles east of Eugene in west central Oregon. Willamette Pass Ski Resort is accessed off Highway 58 (Willamette Highway). You need your own wheels to get there.
Mt Bachelor Ski Resort is 75 miles to the northeast of Willamette Pass.
There is no on-mountain lodging at the Willamette Ski Resort, but there is some lodging about 2 miles away in the Odell Lake area. Further lodging is located about 10 miles away in the village of Crescent Lake, with motels, chalets and vacation rentals.
And 29 miles northwest of the resort is Oakridge where there are additional lodgings available. The Best Western Oakridge
provides good value for money accommodation in either king rooms or queen rooms with 2 beds.
Ski Resort Facilities
The ski resort has pretty good amenities and services for skiers and snowboarders considering it’s a day ski area. The day lodge has a cafeteria restaurant, a retail shop, ski and snowboard equipment rentals, and a ski and snowboard school. Everything is very reasonably priced.
Summary of Pros and Cons
- Willamette Oregon has great tree skiing and there are an abundance of possible lines.
- Willamette Pass has some excellent sidecountry terrain.
- The resort has fantastic steeps.
- This is mostly a locals’ ski area and it doesn’t score big crowds.
- It’s a small ski area, so piste riders might get bored rather quickly.
- There is no on-mountain lodging.
Contributions from Jack Lafeman