Exploring the Lesser Known Ski Areas in Eastern Oregon

Matthew Oliphant |
Eastern Oregon Mountains – Image Credit ketchikankeith – Eastern Oregon Visitors Association FB Page

When you think of Eastern Oregon, you probably don’t associate it with seeking out a ski area for a number of reasons (remoteness, accessibility, lack of snow, etc.) Well, I’m here to hopefully expand your mind and highlight two underrated ski areas in this spectacular and often overlooked part of Oregon.

Before I begin, I wanted to quickly touch on a little geologic province 101 of Oregon so that you can understand where these two ski areas are located and how their geologic terrain impacts the overall skiing experience. 

The first location is Warner Canyon Ski Hill, located in the Warner Mountains of south-central Oregon. This ski hill is part of the Basin and Range province, which is tectonically quite young and typically involves lots of geothermal activity. This geologic province is known for its uniquely stretched-out and expansive landscapes that form these basins (dip or depression in the earth’s surface) and mountain range features.

Ecoregions of Oregon – Image Credit OregonWild.org

Now that you have a firm basis on the basic geologic makeup of this fascinating area, let’s explore more about this sweet gem in Lakeview, Oregon. Warner Canyon Ski Hill is a small ski set-up nestled in the Warner Mountains of Fremont-Winema National Forest. One chairlift grants you access to the hill, offering you 22 ski trails to choose from on this 200-acre skiable terrain. What’s impressive is that Warner Canyon receives, on average, about ~300 inches (~9 meters) a year. That is getting close to 25 feet! Those are respectable snowfall numbers for this part of Oregon. Warner Canyon has a base elevation of 5,700 ft, with the summit topping out at 6,480 ft, lending a healthy 780 ft of vertical drop.

A classic bluebird winter scene at Warner Canyon Mountain Ski – Warner Canyon Ski Area FB Page

Fresh ski runs – Warner Canyon Ski Area FB Page

The next ski area I want to explore is Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, immersed in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest of the Blue Mountains of Eastern Oregon. Anthony Lakes is located in the heart of the Elkhorn Mountains, encompassing the Blue Mountains, which span ~15,000 square miles into Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. One could argue that the “Blues” are one of Oregon’s most geologically diverse and complex parts. This unique geologic DNA most certainly has the capacity to add to the overall wonder and excitement one might experience while venturing to Anthony Lakes.

Overview of the different mountain ranges in Northeast Oregon – Image Credit – Oregon Natural Desert Association

Now that you have a firm understanding of this area, let’s dive into the ins and outs of this ski area. Anthony Lakes offers 900 feet of vertical drop, with the longest run being 1.5 miles. There are 21 runs on this 1,000-acre of skiable alpine terrain. It gets a solid 250 inches of snow per year. What makes Anthony Lakes unique and stand out from the rest of the ski areas in Oregon is that it holds the title of the highest base ski area at 7100 ft. For context, Timberland Lodge at Wy’East (Mt. Hood) sits at a base elevation of 6,000 ft. Pretty Cool, Huh?

Shredding fresh powder – Image Credit: louie.heater – Eastern Oregon Visitors Association FB Page

Next time you find yourself cruising through Eastern Oregon, be sure to keep these ski areas in mind, or if you simply want to break away from the more popular skiing destinations in Oregon and do something different, then you can’t go wrong with these ski places.

Skier descending the slopes at Anthony Lakes – Image Credit: thestolenword – Eastern Oregon Visitors Association FB Page

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