December 2001 – Eugene, Oregon Travel Guide

Willamette Pass

It’s a scene reminiscent of any Christmas movie: a curious day, fraught with wonder and amazement. The smell of fresh snow and pine replenishes the air, the sound of children’s laughter echoes from beyond; the sun dances across a seemingly endless blanket of fresh white powder, and the treetops sparkle as they are adorned with shimmering white snowflakes and winter’s finest crystal. It is indeed a winter wonderland. And just as surely as the snow continues to fall, skilled skiers and snowboarders will continue to swish down steep mountainsides with the greatest of ease – while others will simply struggle to stay afoot until they topple over in amusement. Indeed, it is a typical winter day at Willamette Pass.

Located just an hour east of Eugene, Willamette Pass serves as the Willamette Valley’s most popular destination for winter sports and activities. With two different peaks ranging from deep and bumpy to gentle and smooth, this mountain, situated alongside the northern Oregon Cascades, has something to offer everyone. From young to old, skier to snowboarder and amateur to expert, Willamette Pass caters to all needs.

With an average of 340 inches of snow per year and 550 acres of skiable terrain, Willamette Pass is a mountain of veritable bliss for winter sports enthusiasts. It has 6 beginner trails, 13 intermediate trails and 10 trails for advanced skiers and snowboarders. For those hardcore extreme snow-sport gurus, Willamette Pass also offers runs as steep as 52 degrees and as long as 2.1 miles.

Additionally, for enthusiasts with a craving for competition, ski and snowboard racing is offered at the mountain as well. Individual events as well as family challenges are popular activities among participants of all ages. As the host of Special Olympics programs and other local programs offered through the city of Eugene, Willamette Pass similarly supports a community atmosphere. Friendly competition is always expected and encouraged.

Although skiing and snowboarding are by far the two most popular activities on the mountain, they are certainly not the only ones. For children who aren’t quite old enough to be ski-savvy, and for those others who just can’t seem to gain control of their equilibrium, there is always the option of snow tubing. Located at the west end of the main parking lot, the Tubing Center offers amusement for everyone. Children and adults alike can spend a day sliding down the snow without the fear of getting run over by an oncoming skier or snowboarder.

All in all, Willamette Pass is a great place to visit, especially during the winter months. It provides a perfect escape from the rainy winter weather and lack of sunlight in Eugene. “I swear I go there just to prove to myself that the sun still actually exists,” said Bianca Ryan, a student at the University of Oregon. Eugene resident, Ted Schwallie, an avid snowboarder and Willamette Pass regular agrees; however, his main reasons for frequenting the mountain resemble those of the majority: “It’s close and the snow is good.”

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