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Mt. Hood Meadows, Oregon.
30 years old and still getting better.
 
 
Just ninety minutes east of Portland, Oregon the dormant Mt. Hood volcano rises 11,235 feet into the sky, towering above the nearby mountains of the Cascade Mountain Range. Due to its lofty elevation and abundant snowfall, Mt. Hood always remains a dominant, snow-capped landmark in Portland’s eastern skyline throughout the year.
 
Even though there are several other developed ski areas on Mt. Hood, Mt. Hood Meadows stands out as the largest and most developed ski area. It is on the wind-protected and sunnier eastern side. In all of Oregon, only Mt. Bachelor is larger. Due to this prime location, Mt. Hood Meadows averages 430 inches of snowfall annually on 2,150 acres of skiable terrain, allowing for a ski season that typically runs from November through May. Add to that, 82 marked trails accessed by no less than 10 lifts - three of which are high speed Quads - and you have enough variety and lift capacity to satisfy any level skier or snowboarder. With 35% of the trails rated as advanced or higher, there is an abundance of exciting trails if you desire challenging terrain. The vertical drop for the main ski area is 2,700 feet with the longest run an endurance-testing three miles. Many of the upper trails are so wide and variable that there seems to be almost no limit to the choices one can make each time down the mountain. Conditions and egos permitting, there is even another 1,020 vertical feet of skiing available at the top, accessed by snowcat, with a capacity of ten skiers at a time, per snowcat. If your desires are less ambitious, there are still many fine beginner and intermediate trails throughout the resort; and not just at the bottom!
 
For those skiers or snowboarders that can’t get enough skiing during the day, Mt. Hood Meadows also offers night skiing. From Wednesday through Sunday until 10 pm, four chair lifts - including the only night-operating high speed quad in Oregon - cover 22 lighted runs, including several advanced trails and bowls.
 
With the dramatic increase in snowboard users, Mt. Hood Meadows has addressed their unique needs this last year by investing over two hundred thousand dollars in new equipment specifically for snowboarders. The resort management is very aware of this fast-growing market which is quickly building toward fifty percent of their lift ticket sales. To keep the snowboarders returning, there are two excellent snowboard terrain parks within Mt. Hood Meadows, with halfpipes and a variety of jumps produced by a new snowcat "Scorpion" groomer. These snowboard parks are quickly becoming nationally recognized for their excellent designs.
The 1998 season marks the 30th anniversary for Mt. Hood Meadows. Even though there have been dramatic improvements since those early days, the future plans are no less ambitious. For example, in the last five years, there have been four new lifts added, three of which were high-speed quad. According to General Manager, Dave Riley, there are plans to add a new skier services building during the summer of 1998 to support the Nordic skiing trails at the north side of the main alpine ski area. There will also be three to five new snowcats purchased in time for the 1998-1999 season. Dave is also working with the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to begin a two-year project to upgrade the access road to Mt. Hood Meadows. Long term plans include aggressive growth in the number and capacity of lifts, resort acreage and expanded skier facilities, along with much needed local lodging.
 
All of this growth is not done without a strong concern for maintaining the environmental stability of this area. Mt. Hood Meadows has very comprehensive environmental practices and Eco-System programs. One example of their extra concern is that every effort is made to not disturb the areas around where the new lifts are installed. This means that roads and heavy machinery are avoided whenever possible. Other more environmentally friendly methods are used – including the use of more expensive helicopters to transport the heavy chairlift towers up the mountain instead of using less expensive heavy ground equipment. Another example of their environmental efforts is their bus transportation program. On peak days, up to 25% of the skiers are transported to the area by bus.
 
Their Eco-System programs continue a practice that Mt. Hood Meadows began at the resort’s inception, with erosion control and revegetation programs. They now include native plant and wildlife enhancement programs. These programs have been so successful and innovative that the resort has received a "Silver Eagle" award from The Skiing Company recognizing their efforts. Each April, there is an annual snowboarding event to raise money and awareness for these environmental efforts. The money raised during this event is used for revegetating Mt. Hood with native wildflowers.
 
Even though the vast majority of skiers currently commute from the local Portland region, visitors from outside the local region who stayed at the city of Hood River and then made the 40-minute commute to Mt. Hood, grew over 60 percent last year. Resort Marketing Director Dave Tragethon claims that much of the growth can be attributed to the $20 lift ticket promotion through participating Hood River lodging properties. Adults staying at participating properties receive $20 lift tickets, while children ages 7 -12 receive $15 lift tickets. Currently, there are 16 properties participating in this promotion, ranging from cozy bed and breakfast in the hills to resort hotels right beside the river. Dave’s plans are to attract skiers to visit Mt. Hood Meadows from throughout the northwest U.S. With these additional marketing efforts, along with Hood River already being a well-known summer destination for windsurfing, mountain biking, golf and other activities, visitors can now have the opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of winter activities at very affordable prices.
 
In an effort to keep up with the latest equipment technology, the ski rental shop replaced all of the alpine skis and boots for the 97 - 98 season. This meant purchasing 1200 new Rossignol "shaped" skis, bindings and boots. By purchasing this new equipment, skiers will now be able to benefit from the improved performance and better control that this new equipment can provide. For beginner skiers, this can mean that they can learn more quickly and enjoy the skiing experience much sooner. As Dave Tragethon pointed out, this is not only good for the new skier, but also good for the growth and stability of the sport. Additionally, for the 98 - 99 season, the plan is to greatly increase the number of available rental snowboards and to improve the rental process for snowboards. Snowboard rentals have been increasing at such an explosive pace at Mt. Hood Meadows in recent years, that the current snowboard rental capacity and facilities will be expanded to address their specific needs.
 
The ski schools at Mt. Hood Meadows handle almost every conceivable need from half or full day children "KidSki" programs, to private lessons, up to multi-week junior and adult programs. Monique Pelletier – the resort’s very friendly and helpful resident Olympic skier – offers private lessons as well as ski and racing workshops. She has even been providing women’s group-ski workshops to help women improve their skiing without the pressure of keeping up with stronger men skiers.
 
If you fly into Portland you are sure to notice the airport is undergoing a two-year major remodeling project. The airport management is making all reasonable efforts to minimize any inconvenience caused by the remodeling. In spite of the construction, getting to the right place was no problem because signs and helpful staff are strategically placed throughout the airport.
 
If you fly to Portland to ski during the week, the best way to get to Mt. Hood Meadows is with a rental car. A convenient shuttle, which runs every 15 minutes, will take you to the rental car area. Budget Rent Car offers great prices and excellent service. For my trip, in preparation for going up the mountain, I rented a brand new Subaru Forester with all-wheel-drive. Budget carries a good selection of AWD vehicles for winter travel. The Subaru was very comfortable and remarkably fuel efficient. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an opportunity to experience the benefits of its AWD since the weather was beautiful during the four days that I was there.
 
The City of Portland is beautiful, but as you drive away from town on I-84 you will see the Columbia River beside you, which is even more beautiful. In less than an hour you will come to a popular lodging choice, The Best Western at Hood River, which is located at the intersection of I-84 and highway 35 (the highway to Mt. Hood Meadows). This conveniently located hotel, which overlooks the river, has moderate prices, good service, and a good restaurant.
 
Although I’m a ski writer and I get around, before this trip I had never heard of Mt. Hood Meadows. Now, I won’t forget the excellent skiing, wonderful staff and beautiful panoramic views from the top of the mountain. Once you discover Mt. Hood Meadows, you won’t forget either!
 
For more information on Mount Hood and Oregon, call the Oregon Tourism Division at 800-547-7842; the Portland Chamber of Commerce at 800-962-3700; or the Mt. Hood Travel Association at 503-622-4822. For easier reservations, try Mt. Hood Meadows Lodging Reservation Service, featuring one-call booking for all Hood River lodging and lift ticket packages at 800-9292-SKI. The Mt. Hood Meadows web site is http://www.aminews.com/mhmeadows. The reservations line for the Hood Rover Hotel and Pasquale's is 800-386-1859. United Shuttle’s reservations number is 800-SHUTTLE.

Best Western Hood River Inn
1108 East Marina Way
Hood River, OR 97031

Phone: 503-386-2200
Reservations: 800-828-7873

Budget Car Rentals 503-249-6500

Hood River Hotel Reservations
800-386-1859

Mt. Hood Meadows Web Site: www.skihood.com 
Mt. Hood Meadows Email: info@skihood.com 

Mt. Hood Meadows Lodging Reservations Service
Mt. Hood Meadows
P.O. Box 470, Mt. Hood, Oregon 97041
 
Information: 503-337-2222, 503-246-SKIS, 503-BUS-LIFT
Phone: 503-246-1348, 503-287-5438 (Office)
Snow Phone: 503-227-SNOW
Phone: 503-337-2222 - Ski Area
Phone: 800-929-2SKI - Reservations
Mt. Hood Meadows Web: www.skihood.com 
Mt. Hood Meadows Email: info@skihood.com 

 

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