Last Friday I got to mob out to Willamette Pass for a day of downhill skiing. Willamette Pass skiing is my new jam! It's a great resort option in between the size of Hoodoo and Mount Bachelor. Hoodoo Thrifty Thursdays are great for a $19 cheap day of skiing on a small, quiet hill. Mount Bachelor is obviously the choice for a large hill with a terrain park. Willamette Pass, on the other hand, has some steeper grade runs available. The run RTS is the steepest in the state at about 50 degrees. But it also has great beginner and intermediate level runs. The backside of the mountain is north facing and usually has the fresh pow and fewer people, especially on a snow day midweek!
This is my first ski season with my own gear and I'm trying to keep up with a much more experienced partner. We spent the morning on the backside, taking one break to come back to the frontside lodge for a bar lap. Then after a few more runs down the blues in the back, we stopped by into the lodge on the frontside for lunch. Lunch at Willamette Pass is not a fancy experience, but you can get a hot chicken sandwich and plenty of beer, hot toddies, irish coffees, or whatever you want at the bar from Bill the bartender.
At $49 for a day pass, the cost of Willamette Pass is super affordable. You can also pay per hour. For $13 per hour, you can pay as you go. You can ski for an hour, take a break, ski for another hour and then call it a day. This is a great option for beginners or anyone who has a lower endurance level.
The drive from Eugene is a short 70 mile journey. You can drive up yourself or hop on the Berg's Ski Bus for $20 on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. If you want to stay overnight in the area, you can park your RV or van right in the parking lot for a small fee ($20 with electrical hookup or $10 without). If you're looking for lodging, Odell Lake Lodge and Resort is my favorite option in the area. You can stay at a room in the inn for about $75 or rent a private cabin for $100-$200 depending on size and amenities. There is one cabin with a hot tub! The folks at Odell Lake Resort will hook you up with a newly remodeled room and dinner and drinks are available in the lodge as well as snowshoes and cross-country skis.
On the drive back to Eugene, don't forget to stop for a pint in Oakridge at the Brewer's Union Pub which is a traditional English style pub with their own rotating cask ale on tap as well as 6 guest taps to choose from. You will find yummy burgers on the menu as well as daily specials, and I highly recommend adding the sweet potato fries to whatever you select.
I highly recommend keeping track of the snow reports via Open Snow. You can even sign up to get text alerts when there is fresh snow. This way you'll be up-to-date on the best snow conditions and make it to the mountain for first chair on snow day, blue bird, white out, or whatever your idea of mountain bliss may be.