“Here’s Johnny!” That’s the first thing that should come to mind if you venture to the Pacific Northwest. The infamous hotel from the movie The Shining is located at one of the many resorts on Mt Hood. So, what’s so special in this corner of the country? First, Mt Hood doesn’t have just one resort on its flanks, but rather three major ski resorts. Second, the ski resorts are located less than two hours away from Portland, making it the perfect destination for anyone looking for some deep powder and some metropolitan style après. Here is our guide to Mt Hood’s Ski Resorts and some affordable places to eat in the city of Portland.
Timberline – Home of the Shining
Just like the name implies, most of the ski resort is located at or just above tree line. One of its claims to fame is the main lodge. The exterior of this building was used in the movie the Shining, but don’t worry, the interior is just as spooky as the movie but in a more wilderness-y way. Surprisingly, staying at this hotel in the winter is very affordable so it’s definitely worth considering when choosing where to stay. If not, at least ski or snowboard past it and maybe take a selfie. The second thing Timberline is known for is its summer skiing. During midwinter, the highest lift – the Magic Mile, doesn’t open due to the massive amounts of snow it receives, but by the end of May, they begin to dig out the chairlift to prepare for summer operations. Summer camps such as Windell’s shuttle kids from their lodging at the bottom of the road up to the resort. Each summer camp then sets up and holds their activities on a private part of this snowfield. In the winter though, all the other lifts will run and give you access to even more challenging terrain like the Stormin’ Norman chairlift named after a famous skier who helped found this resort. You can’t go wrong in either season – winter or summer!
Mt Hood Ski Bowl – Largest Night Ski Resort in North America
It may be the smallest of the three major resorts on Mt Hood but it still throws one helluva punch. First, Mt Hood Ski Bowl has the largest night skiing operation meaning they have more trails and acreage lit up than anywhere in North America. Second, it contains a decent amount of challenging terrain that even an expert will enjoy. It’s definitely a resort to consider if your staying in Portland.
Mt Hood Meadows – King of the Hill
So out of three major resorts, which one is the biggest, baddest, and toughest resort on the hill? If you guessed Mt Hood Meadows… you are a winner! Containing terrain for all levels, it has everything from steep drops and cliffs to long carving trails above tree line making it a great mountain to visit. If you’re lucky enough to hit Meadows on a powder day and you’re an expert skier/snowboarder then head over to Heather Canyon. Filled with nicely spaced trees, bowls, and cliff drops, this section is amazing if you hit it at the right time. For nice open groomers, head over to Cascade Express. Gulch and Boulevard are great runs too for massive swooping turns that follow the fall line down to the bottom of the lift. Finally, for beginners, give Vista Express a whirl. Like all Pacific Northwest resorts, keep your eyes peeled on the snow level for a storm. If the snow levels are high then the terrain off of Shooting Star Express is your best option. No matter what, Mt Hood Meadows should be on your list of resorts to check out if you’re in the Pacific Northwest. Filled with culture and amazing terrain, there isn’t another resort like it out there.
Tip: If you do head to Mt Hood Meadows, make sure to buy a sno-Park permit from one of the parking lot attendants. We found out the hard way that if you don’t get one, they’ll ticket you!
Places to Eat
After a long day on the mountain, some good après are always in order. Fortunately, Mt Hood is just down the road from the city of Portland featuring some amazing cuisine. From the food truck plaza to a plethora of bars carrying all the amazing micro-brews, this town definitely has a lot to offer. Here’s just a sampling of some of our favorites.
Stanich’s – Going back to the Iron Curtain
Have you ever wondered how it must’ve felt to go back to an era where the Soviet Union was still strong and there was an Iron Curtain? Stepping into Stanski’s makes you feel that you’ve been transported back to that time. Old televisions show the current sports games, but the walls are adorned with sports memorabilia from the 80’s such as Starter hats with the Charlotte Hornets to Pacific Northwest college pennants from that era. In addition, the prices of the burgers and beer are affordable too which is shocking in this part of the country.
Voodoo Donuts – The “OG” of Artistic Donuts
When it comes to fried dough, the original home of artistic creations for many could be considered Voodoo Donuts. The tales of what they put into their confectionery concoctions are legendary. Are they still the best? This can be argued, but travel is all about experiencing the culture and going to the original storefront is definitely something you must do once in your life. Regardless of the taste, which is amazing, the presentation and naming of the donuts is how this place stands out. Our personal favorite is the Old Dirty Bastard named after the Wu-Tang member. Packed with chocolate frosting and peanut butter and housing a mountain of crushed Oreos, it will get you as hyped as the front man of the Clan.
Be warned: The wait for a donut can be disastrous… up to an hour on some days. Be sure to head over early or show up late and be patient.
Stumptown Coffee – Third Wave of Coffee Brewers
Named after one of Portland’s many nicknames, this coffee shop is a must stop if you’re in town. Sure, you might be able to get a cup of their dark java in metropolitan cities like San Francisco, Chicago, or New York but visiting the “mothership” is worth it. Stumptown is one of the original companies to help bring forward the idea of roasting coffee as an artisanal skill. Being so pivotal for the coffee world, this movement was even named – the “Third wave of coffee”, and the rest is history. Enjoy!
Sushi Land – Affordable Sushi and a Cool Experience
Traveling can be expensive, but you still need to eat. Why not make it an experience as well? A great option if you’re in Portland is a place called Marinepolis-Sushiland. It’s expanded quite a bit over the years with locations in Seattle and LA but it started back in 1991 in the Portland area. The sushi is served on a conveyor belt with plates that are numbered with how much they cost. From $1 to $3, you pick the sushi off the belt and then pay at the end. Of course you can get some made to order if you don’t see something you like, but the concept is refreshing and enjoyable.
This is only an introduction into Portland (aka Stumptown) and the ski resorts nearby. We hope you get the chance to visit, and if you do ever end up in the Pacific Northwest, we HIGHLY suggest stopping at one of the cute roadside coffee “huts.” They are a unique cultural mainstay that isn’t like anywhere else in the country. Happy travels and let us know if there are any other “must trys” when hanging out in Portland.