Oregon Governor Set to Give Ski Areas Green Light to Reopen | Timberline Lodge Could be Open Next Week

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Timberline, Powder Alliance
Timberline Lodge is an iconic ski area at the base of Mt. Hood. The lifts turn 12 months out of the year. Image: Powder Alliance

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said on Tuesday she will be shortly be announcing an executive order allowing ski resorts to reopen. There is no definite timeline just yet, but a spokesman for Timberline Ski Area on Mount Hood says they could be up and running by the end of next week.

Governor Kate Brown also announced the opening of some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and areas across Oregon for day use effective May 5, 2020, with camping opportunities becoming available as federal, state, local, and private providers are able to prepare their facilities for visitors in cooperation with each other. As this limited reopening occurs, it is essential that Oregonians recreate responsibly to protect the health, wellness, and safety of themselves and others in local communities.

This means that skiers and snowboarders shouldn’t expect the resort to operate as normal, stringent social distancing measures will be enforced.

“It’s going to be a good experience, but it’s definitely going to be different.”

Timberline spokesman John Burton

Guests will be asked to reserve tickets online, no more than 24 hours ahead of time. Pre-purchased lift tickets and passes for the winter season will still be honored, though skier numbers will be limited. Social distancing measures will be in place from the moment guests arrive at the parking lots, right through to the lift-lines. Guests not playing by the rules will be asked to leave.

timberline lodge, oregon
Timberline Lodge and Ski Area, OR

Burton expects the Stormin’ Norman and Magic Mile chairlifts will be the first to start turning once the ski area starts running.

Neither Mt. Hood Meadows or Skibowl will reopen for skiing and snowboarding this season. Mt. Bachelor has yet to announce any plans.

Timberline Lodge ski area is the ski and snowboarding area of Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is one of a few ski areas in the United States with most of the skiable terrain below the main lodge. It is located on the south face of Mount Hood, about 60 miles east of Portland, accessible via the Mount Hood Scenic Byway.

Timberline is the only ski area in North America to offer year-round skiing, closing only for two weeks in September for maintenance. Skiers, snowboarders, and sightseers ride up the Magic Mile chairlift to the Palmer Glacier and its lift, where most of the summer skiing takes place, particularly later in the season. In contrast to winter operations, the lifts are the busiest during the summer ski season Monday through Friday, mostly due to ski and snowboard camps. Besides organized clinics and camps, any intermediate or more advanced member of the public is welcome to ski or snowboard.

timberline lodge, Oregon, trail map
Timberline Lodge, Oregon Trail Map

Full Press Release from Oregon Governor Kate Gordon:

Governor Kate Brown today announced the opening of some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and areas across Oregon for day use effective today, May 5, 2020, with camping opportunities becoming available as federal, state, local, and private providers are able to prepare their facilities for visitors in cooperation with each other. Ski resorts will also be able to resume activities under a new executive order that will be forthcoming. As this limited reopening occurs, it is essential that Oregonians recreate responsibly to protect the health, wellness, and safety of themselves and others in local communities.

“Enjoying Oregon’s beauty and bounty is one of our state’s time-honored traditions. As we begin to slowly open up recreation sites, state parks, and ski area opportunities, it is critical we ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and the public. And that begins with each of us taking personal responsibility to be a steward of our parks, and each other.”

– Governor Kate Brown

Under the Governor’s Stay Home, Save Lives executive order, not all outdoor recreation areas were closed. However, as concerns about public health and safety due to crowding and lack of physical distancing grew, Governor Brown supported the decisions of local, state, and federal jurisdictions to close sites to protect community members’ health and safety.

Oregon’s outdoor recreation providers and the Oregon Health Authority have partnered to create recommendations for safely and gradually offering limited outdoor recreation opportunities. This approach will not open all day use and camping opportunities at once.

Reopening outdoor recreation areas will be a phased approach as it becomes safe for some communities and recreational providers to do so, and will change the way that Oregonians visit some familiar sites. Columbia River Gorge parks and recreation areas, as well as coastal areas that are not yet ready to welcome visitors back, will remain closed for now, while the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department coordinates with local jurisdictions and partners in Washington to determine the appropriate timing for reopening.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) announced a small number of inland state parks will offer limited services starting Wednesday, May 6.

Parks returning to limited daytime service:

    • Tryon Creek in Portland
    • Willamette Mission north of Keizer
    • Mongold boat ramp at Detroit Lake
    • State Capitol State Park in Salem
    • The Cove Palisades boat ramp at Lake Billy Chinook near Culver
    • Prineville Reservoir boat ramp near Prineville
    • Joseph Stewart boat ramp on Lost Creek Lake near Shady Cove
    • Pilot Butte to pedestrians (no vehicles) in Bend

Limited day-use will slowly return to other state parks starting the week of May 11 based on the readiness of the community around the park to welcome visitors, and how prepared the park is with staff, supplies, and equipment. State parks will open and close with little advance notice; updates will be posted online at oregonstateparks.org or call 800-551-6949 (Mon-Fri, 8 am-5 pm) and should be checked before visiting.

High-density parks on the north coast, the Columbia Gorge, boat accesses to the John Day and Deschutes Rivers, and places like Smith Rock in Central Oregon will likely be among the last to return to limited service, and no dates for state parks in those regions have been announced.

“We know these last six weeks has seemed longer, but your health is important to us. It is true outdoor recreation boosts our mental and physical health, but parks concentrate people in a community, and we have to do this carefully if it’s going to work. We need your cooperation to keep parks open.”

– Lisa Sumption, OPRD Director

Guidelines for responsible outdoor recreation include:

Prepare before you go:

    • Limit your recreation activities, and recreate only with people in your own household.
    • Check what’s open before leaving home. Your favorite trail or camp site may remain closed, or need to be closed on a temporary basis, to prevent crowding and protect public health.
    • Plan ahead and come prepared as service levels may be different than you are accustomed to.
    • Visitors may find limited restroom services available. Plan to bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
    • Bring a mask to cover your nose and mouth. Visit less crowded areas, visit during off-peak times, and have a back-up plan.
    • Not feeling well? Don’t go. If you have symptoms of a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home.

Take Care when you get there:

    • Be safe and responsible by choosing activities within your comfort zone.
    • Leave no trace, and pack out what you pack in.
    • Maintain your own personal hygiene like washing your hands often, bringing your own water, hand sanitizer, soap, and toilet paper.
    • Avoid crowds. Be prepared for last minute changes to ensure the safety and health of others.
    • All of the standard ways to protect public health apply in the outdoors too, like maintaining physical distance.
    • Keep at least 6 feet between you and other Oregonians enjoying the outdoors. Launch one boat at time to ensure other Oregonians have enough space to launch safely and securely.
    • Leave at least one parking space between your vehicle and the vehicle next to you.
    • It is wildfire season. Please remain safe and vigilant to ensure forest health and safety. Do not start fires in undesignated areas. Check if your campground or park allows outdoor fires before you strike a match. If permitted, make sure you are building a campfire properly and that you have water or an extinguisher on hand. Before you leave, ensure the campfire is out. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.

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