January 2002 – Portland, Oregon Travel Guide

Portland’s Winter Sports Frenzy

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this: You wake up in Portland early Saturday morning to the sound of your radio. The voice announces that nearby Mount Hood had a fresh dump of snow the night before, making skiing and snowboarding conditions ideal.

But as you begin to fantasize about zigzagging through the virgin powder, the phone rings. It’s your buddy, the hardcore hiker, challenging you to join him for a steep, 5-mile round-trip along Saddle Mountain Trail.

You’re about to accept when you remember that this was the day you promised your significant other a romantic trip to the coast to visit Cape Lookout – a prime place for spotting migrating gray whales.

Or maybe you should really fulfill that promise to your father to go fishing on the Columbia. And considering the recent boom in sturgeon (some sturgeon reach 12 feet in length!) it might not be a bad idea.

But this is no dream. For everyone in the Portland area, this is an every-weekend reality. A delightful dilemma, it forces outdoor enthusiasts to prioritize their passions. And trust me, with the array of winter sports in Portland, it’s not an easy thing to do!

In Portland, January is outdoor month. Maybe it’s the holiday hangover, the proximity to the snow-capped mountains or just the post-Christmas blues. But around this time every year the outdoor sports buzz reaches a fever pitch. Flocks of vehicles with heavy-laden roof racks instinctively leave the city – and this is where they migrate:

Mt Hood is less than a 1-hour drive from Portland. With an elevation of 11,240 feet (3,426 m) and 4 different ski areas around its base, it’s no wonder Mt. Hood is known as a “skiers’ mountain.” Mt. Hood also has plenty of rugged terrain both for experts or for just plain idiots willing to ski any slope. For more info, go to mthood.org.

Portland is the perfect location for the hike-happy. Within 1 hour there are 5 famous hikes to choose from: Saddle Mountain Trail, Neahkahnie Mountain, Cape Lookout Trail, Tanner Butte and Yokum Ridge. For more info click here.

The Pacific Northwest also boasts some of the best camping in the country. With rushing rivers, active volcanoes and the picturesque coast all within a short drive, camping around Portland is never boring. Click here for info.

The Deschutes River is a 2-hour drive from Portland. Last year a group of friends and I set out to tackle the rapids. Warning: these rapids are not for the faint of heart. My knuckles are still white! The further you raft down the river, the higher the rapid ratings, and if you don’t sideline your raft early on, you’ll be swimming more than once. But hey, it’s all part of the experience! Check out rafting info here.

The fishing around Portland is also legendary. Despite a recent drop in salmon numbers, the Pacific Northwest still has great fishing. The new rage is sturgeon fishing, and the 6-foot, 100-pound fish are regularly hauled from the waters. These monstrous bottom-feeders are also surprisingly vicious fighters, making sturgeon-fishing a strenuous sport. You get aerobics and weight lifting with every hook! Find out more here.

An Outdoor Kinda Town
The headquarters for Nike, Columbia Sportswear and Eddie Bauer are all located in the Northwest. These locations are no mistake: they know their market – Portlanders are devoted to outdoor activity.

Mountains, cliffs, gorges, rivers, trails and beaches are explored with religious zeal. And the winters’ rainy weather is never an obstacle. In fact, with so much to do in the winter, you almost need spring to get rested for summer.

If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our North America Insiders page.

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