Winter in Oregon: 25 Magical Things To Do Across the State

Post Summary: Epic Activities During Winter in Oregon

With stunning snow-capped mountains in the east and cozy, cold vibes along the coast, Oregon’s winters are simply like no other.

Not only does most of the PNW get all seasons, but it has particularly special winters. They really make you feel like you’re actually in a winter wonderland.

Keep scrolling to learn all about what to do this winter in Oregon!

What are the top winter destinations in Oregon?

The top places to enjoy winter in Oregon are Portland, Bend, Hood River, the Oregon Coast, Ashland, and Joseph.

These Oregon winter destinations are popular for many reasons. They have the most amenities and are central locations to book many tours. These cities also have many lodging options and hotels, and are nearby ski resorts!

5 Tips for Getting around Oregon in Winter

  1. Keep an eye out for road conditions on the pass! Use TripCheck as a road resource to plan your trip accordingly.
  2. Give your car a tune-up. Make sure everything’s running correctly! Do your tires have enough pressure? Do all of your headlights work?
  3. Stock your car with emergency gear, like water bottles, jumper cables, and blankets. Check out our complete guide to car emergency kit resources here!
  4. Add a little extra buffer time to your trip, as it takes longer to get places in the snow.
  5. Book accommodations with free cancellation, if possible. Oregon winter weather can be rough, and you never know what kind of weather you’ll encounter!

The Top 25 Things To Do In Oregon In Winter

Mount Hood during winter - Timberline Lodge
Photo courtesy of Timberline Lodge, Oregon

1. Visit Mount Hood

Standing proudly at 11,249 feet, Oregon’s tallest mountain–Mount Hood–is a hub for tons of outdoor adventures.

One of the most popular winter activities at Mount Hood is staying at the Timberline Lodge. Every day, you can head out and go skiing/snowboarding at the Timberline Ski Area.

You can also snowshoe and cross-country ski at Trillium Sno Park and Billy-Bob Sno Park near Mount Hood. This includes the popular mountain trail, Trillium Lake Loop Trail (1.9 miles, easy).

Mount Hood Ski Bowl is another well-known ski, snowboard, and tubing resort near Mount Hood. They host a popular Oregon winter activity called “Cosmic Tubing”–a fun, family-friendly party with over 600,000 LED lights, laser light shows, music, black lights, and more (open every Friday to Sunday, starting on December 16th)!

Winter season in Oregon - frozen Multnomah Falls

2. Explore the Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is a stunning place to explore all year, but it is a truly magical place to visit during Oregon in winter!

Here, you can visit frozen Columbia River Gorge waterfalls (depending on if the trails are open). You can also drive the historic Columbia River Highway and enjoy the out-of-this-world scenery!

Read about even more fun things to do in the Columbia River Gorge here!

Bonus: Visiting the Columbia River Gorge during the winter season is permit free!

Oregon winter lodges - Fivepine Lodge in Sisters, Oregon

3. Stay at a Cozy Cabin

One of the best things to do in Oregon in winter is stay in! We love cuddling up by the fire with a good book or your beau in a cozy cabin.

While there are tons of PNW cabins that we absolutely love, one of our favorite Oregon winter cabins is the Fivepine Lodge Resort in Sisters, Oregon. The price is around ($189 per night, king) and the relaxed environment reconnects us with ourselves, others, and nature.

Fivepine Lodge Resort is also an easy weekend getaway from Bend, Oregon in winter. It’s just 30 minutes from town!

Bend Oregon in Winter - Berty Mandagie taking photos

4. Go on an Oregon Photography Tour

Interested in photographing the wonders of the PNW on your own?

Check out our guide to the best Oregon photography locations which includes all about what’s in our travel photography gear bag and some of our best tips for capturing your special moments on film.

In particular, some of our favorite locations to take pictures of winter on the Oregon coast are Ecola State Park and Cannon Beach (an essential spot on your Oregon coast road trip!), Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Area, and Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint.

Waves along the cliffs of Elk Flats Trail - Storm Watching on the Oregon Coast

5. Go Storm Watching (Follow The King Tides!)

Oregon has some pretty epic storms, especially on the Oregon Coast in the winter when king tides (exceptionally high tides during the new or full moon) are present.

The best places to watch the king tides are: Shore Acres State Park, Cape Meares, and Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

Remember: Make sure to stay safe during Oregon’s winter storms and pay attention to the tide charts, so you don’t get stuck or caught in a tidal flood.

Emily Mandagie soaking in Hart Mountain Hot Springs

6. Soak in an Oregon Hot Spring

Whether you’re getting in a soak after a long day of skiing or going for a chill spa day, Oregon’s hot springs are on another level.

There is such a variation in the environment of Oregon’s hot springs (forested or in the PNW high desert), they can be reached in such different ways (by hike or in a resort), and they all have a unique, magical quality to them.

Some of the best winter geothermal hot springs in Oregon include Terwilliger (AKA Cougar) Hot Springs, Hart Mountain Hot Springs, Alvord Hot Springs, Snively Hot Springs, and Umpqua Hot Springs.

Oregon Coast in winter - Fishing
This is fishing on the Oregon coast, but you can spot some sea life while you’re out!

7. Go Whale Watching on the Oregon Coast

One of the best qualities of the winter on the Oregon coast is that one of Oregon’s whale-watching season is from mid-December through mid-January!

Over 20,000 resident Gray Whales migrate south to the warm lagoons of Baja Mexico during the winter and pass the Northern Oregon coast each year!

Some great locations to go whale are Depoe Bay and the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center, Cape Meares Lighthouse, Cape Perpetua, and Cape Kiwanda.

Oregon Coast Towns - Manzanita

8. Plan an Oregon Coast Getaway

There’s nothing like an Oregon coast getaway to help you reset from the hustle and bustle of life.

We’ve got you covered with a complete guide to a weekend getaway in Pacific City, Oregon or any of our Oregon Coast travel guides!

While on the Oregon coast in winter, we love to visit beaches, go on tons of jaw-dropping hikes, scavenge the tide pools, and get cozy indoors at any of these incredible Oregon Coast towns!

Emily Mandagie at Spoken Moto in Bend Oregon

9. Spend the Weekend in Bend, Oregon

While the winter weather may be rainy and cold throughout the state, one of the best things about Bend, Oregon is that it has the highest average number of sunny days (158!) per year, making it a wonderful place to visit year-round!

We’ve got you covered with a complete four-day itinerary in Bend, Oregon, complete with places to stay, things to do, and what to pack.

While in Bend, we definitely suggest trying cross-country skiing at Meissner Nordic or Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center and snowmobiling at Ten Mile Sno Park!

Mount Hood in the summer season
This is Mount Bachelor in the summer!

10. Go Skiing at Mount Bachelor

Ski at Mount Bachelor Ski Resort for the ultimate winter experience in Oregon.

At Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, you can do it all. Skip the chair lift lines with their add-on Fast Tracks passes or check out the dozens of Nordic skiing trails (and enjoy the longest groomed Nordic season in North America at the resort, November-May!).

Grab some new gear at the Gravity Sports Pro Shop, or try a new kit from the mountain’s Demo Center. Finally, get your routine tune up and repair, camp overnight, and even drop the kids off at daycare…all while hitting the slopes!

Always be sure to check out the Mountain Report and Safety Page at Mount Bachelor to ensure staying safe while hitting the slopes!

boyd cave in bend oregon - the mandagies

11. Go Cave Exploring

Bring on the chill, because cave exploring is one of the coolest (pun intended!) and most unique winter experiences in Oregon!

Some of the best caves to explore in Oregon in winter include Boyd Cave, Lava River Cave, and Skeleton Cave.

Want a guide? Book a tour with Wanderlust Tours near Bend, Oregon, and dive deep into the lava caves for your next winter adventure in Oregon.

12. Visit Crater Lake National Park in Winter

While very different from a summer adventure, visiting the deepest body of water in America at Crater Lake National Park is a jaw-dropping winter activity that you cannot pass up.

At Crater Lake National Park, you can do it all: snowshoe (ranger-led, on a tour, or on your own), cross-country ski, backcountry camp, ski and snowboard, snowmobile, go sledding, try your hand at photographing the massive lake, and enjoy the wildlife of the area!

Or, you can simply take in the purist body of water in the world and then cordillera (a system of mountain ranges) from the parking lot, which–let’s be honest–we could do for hours. 

13. Be a Portland, Oregon Tourist

What makes Portland unique is that it’s just that–unique.

Unlike any other city, Portland has a host of opportunities, adventures, and everyday joys!

When in Portland in winter, you can cozy up with the pals for a drink at one of the hundreds of breweries and microbreweries, prepare for a night in with a book from Powell’s Bookstore, or get a crisp morning cup of joe at one of the local coffee shops.

14. Escape to the Wallowas

Known as the Swiss Alps of Oregon, or “Little Switzerland,” the Wallowas are a beautiful place to escape and get a generous dose of the outdoors.

Need a place to stay? Near the Wallowas, Joseph, Oregon is a wonderful place to stay and play!

For those looking for some outdoor activities, stay at the Wallowa Alpine Huts where there is some major adventurous backcountry skiing and climbing.

In late February, go to the Oregon Film Festival near La Grande and experience the creativity of Eastern Oregon! 

15. Visit Ashland, Oregon

Skiing on Mount Ashland in Ashland, Oregon is one of the best ways to experience Oregon in winter.

At 7,533 feet, Mt. Ashland Ski Area in the Siskiyou Range offers visitors beautiful mountain views and outdoor adventure opportunities.

It costs around $52-69 for a lift ticket (kiddos under 6 skis free!), depending on what time you go, and you can rent skis/snowboards at the resort.

Emily Mandagie on an ice skating rink

16. Go to an Ice Skating Rink

Ice skating is one of the best things to do in winter in Oregon, as there are many options across the state and it is an affordable activity!

Some of the best outdoor ice rinks in Oregon include the Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink in Ashland, Oregon ($8), Bill Collier Ice Arena in Klamath Falls, Oregon ($12), and Winter Village at Jerry Willey Plaza in Hillsboro, Oregon.

In the big city? While in Portland, Oregon in winter, go ice skating at the Lloyd Center Ice Rink ($15-25), Winterhawks Skating Arena ($20), Mountain View Ice Arena ($15-20), and Sherwood Ice Arena ($25).

Make sure to check each rink’s skating schedule to find out when their public skate is, because every rink is different!

Wine Tasting in the Willamette Valley in Winter

17. Go Wine Tasting in the Willamette Valley

Did you know that there are over 1,000 vineyards in Oregon?

Due to prime conditions for growing a wide variety of grapes in the Willamette Valley, Oregon is known for its wine production and local wineries.

Be sure to visit Oregon wine country this winter and visit any of the many fabulous local tasting rooms!

18. Attend the Oregon Truffle Festival

Do you know the movie, Pig? It’s a movie based in the Pacific Northwest, Portland to be exact, about a truffle farmer and his trusty pig.

See this in live action for yourself at the Oregon Truffle Festival and experience the wonders of truffles and the unique culinary traditions of Oregon!

This year, the Oregon Truffle Festival will take place in late January and February of 2023, where there will be tons of events and opportunities for you to try Oregon’s jewel–the truffle.

19. Go Winter Camping on the Oregon Coast

Unlike the busy summer season, there are tons of availability for winter camping in Oregon!

You can rent yurts, cabins, houses, or shelters for a unique and quiet experience, or camp at one of the many, many campgrounds on the Oregon coast (weather permitting).

Some of our favorite lodging locations along the Oregon Coast include:

How To Spend a Weekend in Pacific City, Oregon (3 Day Northern Oregon Coast Itinerary)

20. Go Surfing on the Oregon Coast

It may sound contradictory, but you can go surfing on the Oregon coast, even in the winter!

With a wetsuit on, the chill of the winter tides in Oregon is less powerful, and you can enjoy the king tides and winter swell season all day.

If you decide to brave the waves, check the local weather forecasts, have the proper gear, know how local currents work, and fuel up before you go!

Some of the best beaches to go winter surfing in Oregon include Seaside, which is closest to Portland, Cannon Beach, and Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park, where the waves are consistent, short, and perfect for beginners (15 minutes from Cannon Beach).

Emily Mandagie petting sled dogs

21. Go Dog Sledding on Mt. Bachelor

Picture this: it’s winter in Oregon and you’re winding through the snow-covered trees, with gorgeous vistas and majestic mountain views at every turn.

Sounds amazing, right?

What makes it even better, though, is winding through the snow-covered trees in Oregon from the comfort of a dog sled!

With the Oregon Trail of Dreams, a dog sledding day trip on Mt. Bachelor is one of the most memorable unique winter activities in Oregon.

However, the Oregon Trail of Dreams’ 26-mile Marathon Trip, where you experience authentic backcountry living, is even more so ($1,230 per couple)!

To book this epic dog sled winter adventure in Oregon, it costs approximately $225-310 for adults and $110-210 for kids (80 lbs and under) this winter season and over the holidays.

22. Go on a Holiday Lights Walk

Throughout the state, Oregon becomes quite merry and bright during the winter holiday season.

Celebrate with loved ones at the Umpqua Valley Festival of Lights in Roseburg, Christmas Festival of Lights in Portland (the largest Christmas choral festival in the world!), Holiday Lights at Shore Acres State Park in Charleston, Aspen Meadow Celebration of Lights in Colton, and more!

Winter Camping in Oregon - hiking to a snowy yurt
FYI This is NOT the Tilly Jane A-Frame!

23. Stay in a Backcountry Cabin on Mount Hood

Need to take a break from the busy holidays this season? Go on a rejuvenating getaway in a backcountry cabin on Mount Hood in Oregon!

One of our favorite backcountry cabins on Mount Hood is the Tilly Jane A-Frame cabin.

With stunning views of the Pacific Northwest, the Tilly Jane A-Frame cabin is perfect place to go winter camping in Oregon.

You must snowshoe or ski to get to the cabin during the winter season (November-June) and the area is abundant in outdoor activities like hiking, backcountry skiing, and sledding.

24. Go on a Horse Drawn Carriage Ride

Channel the magical old-timey vibes this winter with a horse-drawn carriage ride!

Found all across the state, these rides are extremely popular in the winter in Oregon and are a memorable activity for family and friends alike.

Some of the most popular horse-drawn carriage rides in Oregon include Winter Sleigh Rides in Sunriver, sleigh rides in the historic Baker City, and family carriage rides at Black Butte Ranch.

25. Go on a Magical Train Ride

All aboard!

While you might not be traveling to the North Pole this Christmas season, train rides are a popular and fun winter activity in Oregon for both family and friends!

Grab a warm cup of hot chocolate and unwind this winter on the Holiday Express along the Willamette River ($23-28, $92 for family), Mt. Hood Christmas Train ($49-79), Sumpter Valley Railroad, Candy Cane Express on the Oregon coastline ($30-40), and Oregon ZooLights Drive in Portland ($21-65).

Winter in Oregon FAQs

What is Oregon winter weather like? What can I expect?

Like much of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon winter weather changes depending on where you go.

On the Oregon coast, the weather is usually mild and chilly (though there can be the occasional ocean storm), with some rainfall and less than 3 inches of snow per year.

The weather around the Cascades and other mountainous regions is snowy and cold, with an average of 5-10 inches of snow per year in most areas and over 460 inches the Crater Lake area!

With more temperate weather, Eastern Oregon gets around 8 inches of snow per year and has a dry climate.

Though the temperature varies across the state, the average temperature in Oregon in the winter is a low of 13° and a high of 38°.

In late winter/early spring, the average temperature turns to a low of around 33° and a high of 51°.

What should I be packing for winter in Oregon?

The most important thing to remember when packing for winter in Oregon is to bring layers and bundle up for those cozy, rainy days!

It’s always helpful to have multiple layers, so that you can take one off when the temperature rises or put them on when you’re cold.

To be prepared for Oregon’s winters, you should remember to pack these things:

  • Waterproof shoes or hiking boots
  • Waterproof coat/parka
  • Gloves
  • Hat/beanie
  • Scarf
  • Rain pants
  • Long underwear
  • Towel
  • Extra trash bags for wet items

Check out our complete packing list for the Oregon coast for all seasons here!

Oregon Winter Activities Map