In most parts of Oregon, winter is synonymous with snow. While some people prefer to stay cozy indoors and simply enjoy watching the peaceful sights of winter, others love to bundle up and play in it. For those seeking an outdoor adventure, we’re highlighting the best parks for winter recreation.
Eastern Oregon parks are especially serene when blanketed in snow. Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area is located along the Oregon Trail near the summit of the Blue Mountains. Strap on your snowshoes or cross-country skis and punch out onto 20 miles of trails through the woods, or test the park’s two popular sledding hills.
Cottonwood Canyon State Park is rugged and vast, from the vertical cliffs carved by the John Day River to deep side canyons and arid, rocky grasslands that extend for miles. The park’s 8,000-plus acres are open year-round for exploring by snowshoe during winter.
Central Oregon is known for its year-round recreational offerings, but winter may be the most desirable season. LaPine State Park’s 10 miles of trails along the Deschutes River are perfect for cross-country skiing after a snowfall.
With open spaces and fewer people, Southern Oregon’s parks are a dream for recreators, especially during the colder months. Collier Memorial State Park features an outdoor museum of historic logging equipment that looks simply magical when draped in snow. Museum hours are 8 am – 4 pm October – May. Pack your skis or snowshoes; the 3-mile River Loop Trail begins at the museum parking lot and offers wintery views of the Williamson River and Spring Creek.
You can ski for miles on the OC&E Woods Line State Trail near Klamath Falls. Locals know the Switchbacks Trailhead is the perfect jumping off point for an out-and-back trek on this 100-mile trail built on the old rail bed of the Oregon, California and Eastern Railroad. For a map of the trail, download the brochure and map.
With its cliff-hugging curves and majestic views, the 5-mile paved section of the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail between Mosier and Hood River is perfect for a winter hike — and if timed just right, you can enjoy it on snowshoes or cross-country skis.
This goes without saying, but we at Oregon State Parks don’t control the weather. If your heart is set on snow, check ahead.
And, why not turn your snow play day-trip into an overnight adventure? Visit our reservations website for a full list of parks with cabins available in central, eastern and southern Oregon.