Timberline Ski Area, located high on Mt. Hood, Oregon is a wonderful place to take the family for a day of skiing.
Timberline is known for its beautiful historic lodge. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977, it is one of Oregon’s most popular tourist attractions. The lodge was constructed in just 15 months, between June 1936 and September 1937 as part of a WPA project. Unemployed craftspeople built this magnificent structure entirely by hand from timber and rock they found in the surrounding environment. This lodge is still very much in use today, by overnight guests, diners in its restaurant, and for weddings.
The lodge provides the centerpiece to a spectacular view of Mt. Hood. On clear days, the ski trails provide gorgeous views of the mountain itself, and the surrounding Cascade peaks.
There are 9 total lifts, 5 of which are high-speed quads. Night skiing is offered on two of the lifts. There are 1,415 acres of skiable terrain. Timberline boasts 3,690 vertical feet in the winter, and 2,616 vertical in the summer.
Yes, you read me right – summer. The other thing Timberline is known for is its nearly year-round skiing. Timberline offers the longest ski season in North America. The Palmer Lift, high on the glaciers of Mt. Hood, allows operation through the summer months. This lift takes skiers to an elevation of 8,540 feet, the highest lift on Mt. Hood. Mt. Hood receives an abundance of snow, averaging between 400-500 inches a year. Although a lot of the snow Hood receives is of the wet and heavy variety (aka “Cascade Concrete”) this type of snow tends to stick around into the summer months. The winter seasons typically begins early to mid-November and continues through Memorial Day. The summer season usually lasts through Labor Day, but during good snow years, they’ve been open into the fall. The US ski team, as well as many other pro skiers and boarders, come to T-line for summer camps and practices.
One of the best things about Timberline is the employees. They are all very helpful and friendly. Many of the lift ops tend to be older people who have worked here for many years. They are always happy to give a smile and offer advice.
And what else do I like about Timberline? They have free ski check!
What are the best amenities at this Timberline for family skiing?
Timberline has many beginner and intermediate ski trails. Most of their lifts are high speed quads, which makes loading and unloading easier for kids and beginners. The beginner lift is situated in a separate area, so there’s no worry about cut-through ski traffic.
Timberline has a great ski school. My kids and one of my friends have taken lessons here, and they had good things to say about the instruction. I’ve taken lessons from the man who used to head the ski school, and if he’s still there, he is a great guy and one of the best instructors I’ve had (his name is Andy).
The Wy’East Day Lodge is a comfortable place for families to hang out. It houses the ski rental, ski shop and has a great restaurant. The lodge itself was built to complement the nearby Timberline Lodge, and offers a beautiful dining area. Wy’East Lodge has a lot of charm and lacks the institutional feel that plagues many ski areas. It’s one of my favorite day lodges. (Fun fact: Wy’East was the name the local Native Americans gave to Mt. Hood).
Bruno, a full-grown St. Bernard, is Timberline’s mascot. In the winter, Bruno can be found hanging around the Day Lodge, and is always a favorite among the younger set.
What would you improve to make Timberline even better?
The one drawback I have to skiing at Timberline is they don’t have many long steep runs. It’s a wonderful place for beginners to intermediates, but if you require more challenge, you’ll be quickly bored. On stormy winter days when the higher Magic Mile and Palmer lifts are not operating (which happens frequently) skiing the crowded lower runs gets old fast. (Linda’s note – but it’s a great place for intermediate telemark skiers like me!)
What makes Timberline unique?
The beautiful unique lodge and nearly year-round skiing. My favorite time to ski Timberline is in the spring, when the Magic Mile and Palmer lifts are operating. The weather is often clear, and the views from the top of the Palmer are amazing. The long run down from the top of Palmer to the bottom of the Mile is one of my very favorites.
Where do you like to eat?
I love to eat at the Black Iron Grill inside the Wy’East day lodge. They have the best cheeseburgers! It is also fun to have lunch inside Timberline Lodge. The Ram’s Head Bar, on the second floor circular balcony of the lodge offers family friendly casual food. There are comfortable sofas and tables to kick back and take in the mountain scenery out the large floor to ceiling windows. And don’t forget to try Timberline’s world-famous hot cocoa!
What about lodging?
I’m a local, so my visits to Timberline have always been day trips. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never stayed in the lodge. But it’s on my list of “things to do,” and someday I will make it happen! I think it would be great fun to stay overnight and take in some night skiing. Maybe for my birthday next year!
The nearby town of Government Camp also offers many lodging options. There are motels, condos, and private homes for rent. Or you can stay in Portland (about an hour and half drive away).
What is your favorite thing about family skiing?
It’s a good way to spend quality time with my kids.
The Brave Ski Mom Adds…
Thanks Linda! This is Linda’s second ski resort review for Brave Ski Mom. Last season, she reviewed Mt. Bachelor, Oregon. An avid skier, she knows what she’s writing about and is a great resource.
Timberline is actually the only resort I’ve skied in the Pacific Northwest and I’ve only skied there in summer. My boys were out there for racing camp and we rented a cabin in Government Camp. It was a great way to go. We rented the cabin from Mt. Hood Vacation Rentals. We also had a fabulous dinner one evening in the beautiful dining room at Timberline Lodge. And, if you can tear yourself away from the skiing, the Lodge offers daily tours which are fascinating.
Linda is the mother of two college-age kids in their early 20s. She moved to Oregon 20+ years ago and lives in the Portland Metro area. Her home hill is Mt. Hood. She’s been skiing since the early 1990s and when she first started skiing, she wiped out a lot. One of her friends nicknamed her “Biff.” Even though she doesn’t fall nearly as much as she used to, she still has a reputation for finding the “snow snakes” on the mountain. Her full-time “real” job interferes with skiing, but Linda saves up her vacation days and skis mid-week as much as she can. When she’s not skiing, Linda dabbles in photography, hiking, and running. You can find her online at Linda’s Lens.
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