Our family has always enjoyed a tremendously fun time together outdoors during the winter months. We’ve put together this Winter Checklist for you and your family as a guide to what to do during the cold and snowy Southern Oregon winters.
1.) Ski and snowboard on Mt. Ashland. 4 Chairlifts providing access to 23 trails. Mt. Ashland is a small, community-owned ski area only 30 minutes from downtown Ashland. My kids and I go often. I park, they get their skis and can hardly wait to get to the runs, racing each other to get their skis on and to the chairlift first. All of us have learned to ski here. The lodge hasn’t changed in the 30 years I’ve been skiing on Mt. Ashland. It’s small-town homey, definitely nothing fancy about it, but that’s the charm.
2.) Sled at Table Mountain Snow Play Area. This secluded sled hill is a J-shape with an upward hill at the end to slow you down so you don’t crash into a tree. It has several lanes so you can race your kids down. In my opinion, Table Mountain is the best place to sled near Ashland. The one catch is you need a 4-wheel drive car or truck with high clearance to get there after a storm. Call BLM (541-618-2200) to double check that the road is plowed before you go. It’s a half mile from the highway and if it isn’t plowed, you’ll have a hard/impossible time getting in.
3.) Hike the Rogue River Trail. A historic, scenic trail that stretches for 40 miles along the Wild and Scenic Rogue River. This trail is at a low elevation so there is rarely snow on the trail making it an excellent winter hiking option. The easy Rainie Falls Trail starts on the left side of the road before the Grave Creek Bridge and is a little over 2 miles each way. To access a longer hike, start on the north shore of the river. Pick up a copy of 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon by William Sullivan for a thorough description of these hikes.
4.) Visit Wildlife Images. An animal sanctuary and education center located outside of Grants Pass. You’ll get the opportunity to see bears, a cougar, bobcats, badgers, eagles and owls up close. This facility was created to provide for the care and treatment of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. The animals they are not able to release in the wild stay there and provide an incredible educational opportunity for those who visit. Guided tours offered at 10 am, noon and 2 pm. Call ahead to make a reservation 541-476-0222.
4.) Snowshoe at Crater Lake. View the lake with a layer of snow around the rim. The beautiful and cozy historic Crater Lake Lodge stays open throughout the winter so stop in for a warm break while out exploring one of America’s gems of a national park . The rangers at Crater Lake offer guided snowshoe trips on the weekends throughout the winter. Snowshoes are provided free of charge. Reservations are required. Call the Steel Visitor Center to reserve a spot for you and your crew 541-594-3100. FYI, participants in the snowshoe must be at least 8 years old.
5.) Ice skating at the Rotary Ice Rink in Lithia Park. Located right in the heart of downtown Ashland in Lithia Park near the plaza area and not far from Northwest Nature Shop. Complete with skate rentals and refreshments. No changing room available. The ice rink can be reached directly by calling 541-488-9189 or you can call APRC at 541-488-5340.
6.) Watch the fly-out at Klamath Basin. The Klamath Basin is known worldwide as a premier bird-watching destination. More than 350 bird species migrate to or from here because of the abundance of water in the area. If you want to see the eagles, go to the Bear Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Keep in mind the eagles winter over here and fly out is best viewed in January and February only. See our NW Nature Shop birding expert’s post about birding in the Klamath Basin: Klamath Basin Birding by Terence Philippe.