The Snow Report
Mount Bachelor eked its way onto our list thanks to its strong environmental and educational programs. Located on U.S. Forest Service land, the day-use hill conforms to the National Environmental Policy Act: There’s a notable recycling program, electricity gets offset with wind-power purchases, and the biodiesel fleet adheres to a strict no-idling rule. There’s little need for snowmaking, either: Of the mountain’s 3,683 skiable acres, only 25 get blanketed in the manufactured stuff. The 71-trail terrain, which gets an impressive 23 percent powder days per season and 387 snowfall inches per year, traverses a modest 3,365 vertical feet serviced by 14 lifts.
The robust ski school enlists Level 3 instructors and occasionally offers Olympian-led clinics. It’s particularly good for beginners: The lauded “Ski or Ride in 5” program ($199 covers five days of lifts, lessons, and rentals, plus a season pass) promises to convert first-timers into lifelong devotees. If kids don’t want to learn to ski, a childcare program keeps them entertained (but closes daily at 3:45 p.m.).
Mount Bachelor also earned points for its gorgeous scenery, as well as its non-ski niceties, like a tube park, snowshoe tours, and roundtrip shuttle access to Bend (stay at the Oxford Hotel) but got docked for not providing 24-hour emergency service—it’s more than 20 miles to the nearest hospital, though a doctor’s on call at hill’s base. There’s not much in the way of housing rentals either, though camping options are plentiful.
Keep an eye on Mount Bachelor, however: Its managers are betting $3 million that renovating and expanding its base area will soon kick this place up a notch.
CONTACT: (800) 829-2442, mtbachelor.com
SEASON: Late November to late May
TICKETS: General: $73, children: $46, seniors: $63; ages 4 and younger: free. Military discount: 50%