As of Tuesday afternoon, if you wanted to ski the deepest snowpack in Oregon, you had to drive some 250 miles northeast of Bend to Anthony Lakes Ski Resort, nestled in the Whitman National Forest between La Grande and Baker City.
Anthony Lakes currently boasts a base depth of 42 inches, the highest in Oregon and western Idaho — higher than Mt. Bachelor, Mount Hood Meadows and Timberline.
Those three resorts are the only other ski areas currently open in Oregon, save for remote Ferguson Ridge Ski Area near the small town of Joseph, tucked into the Wallowa Mountains in the state’s far northeast corner.
Bachelor reported a base depth of 26 inches on Tuesday afternoon. Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters reported just 7½ inches and has yet to open this season. Willamette Pass, southwest of Bend off state Highway 58, reported zero inches of snow on Tuesday and also has yet to open.
After an early-December snowstorm, Anthony Lakes was able to open for the season on Dec. 7. Another foot or so of snow fell just before the holidays, giving Anthony Lakes prime skiing and riding through the Christmas break and into January.
“We’re extremely thankful and very fortunate,” said Chelsea McLagan, assistant operations and marketing director for Anthony Lakes. “We’re busy. We are lucky ducks. We’ve had great temperatures to hold our base, and it’s just been excellent skiing. It’s pretty crazy. We actually had a family drive all the way from St. Helens (north of Portland) this weekend for a day trip — 600 miles round trip.”
Anthony Lakes — which has a base elevation of 7,100 feet and a summit elevation of 8,000 feet — has one triple-seat chairlift and two surface tows. The resort is open Thursdays through Sundays and also offers Sno-Cat-accesed skiing. McLagan said Tuesday that the resort hopes to start that service soon.
“We normally are able to get some cat trips out by the middle of January, so hopefully this next storm or two we’ll be able to start getting our cat trips out,” she said.
Anthony Lakes also had all of its nordic skiing terrain open over the holidays — more than 30 kilometers of groomed and track-set trails.
“That was a pretty big deal, especially among locals and people in other areas who were looking for places to cross-country ski,” McLagan said.
The good news for other ski resorts around the state is that snow appears to be on the way. The Mt. Bachelor website reported 1 inch of new snow Tuesday afternoon, and the National Weather Service is predicting as much as 2 feet of snow over the next few days at Bachelor and as much as a foot on Santiam Pass, where Hoodoo is located.
Central Oregon ski resorts might catch up to Anthony Lakes soon.
“We’ve had a great holiday break,” McLagan said, “and we’re wishing for everyone to get snow, that’s for sure.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318, email@example.com .