Things to do in Mt Hood for families who don’t ski

Beyond skiing: How to play in the snow during a winter family trip to Mt. Hood, Oregon

Confession: Only one quarter of our family has ever snow skied.

Jodie has skied a few times, including on Mt. Hood. Anthony, Connor, and Aster, though, have yet to so much as try on a pair of snow skis (and Anthony’s childhood water skiing adventures don’t count).

So, what made us think that our family could have a winter wonderland adventure on a mountain renowned the world over for its slopes? Simple: Even for non-skiers, mountains like Oregon’s tallest Cascade peak still offer big fun.

At any time of year, Oregon’s Mt. Hood area is packed with opportunities for fun, recreation, adventure, and thrill-seeking. (When visiting during the winter, also make sure you’re winter driving ready and have a sno-park permit.) Here are a few ideas to help you get started planning your own family travel to Oregon’s Mt. Hood:

Activity ideas

Finding things to do in Mt Hood for your family can be as easy as stepping out your back door.
Finding things to do in Mt Hood for your family can be as easy as stepping out your back door.

Whatever your age, interest, or skill level, Mt. Hood is an opportunity to romp outside during a time of year when it’s not always as appealing or easy to get outdoors. While we also love snuggling under blankets with books, games, hot beverages, and each other’s company, we also make time to get fresh air and plenty of outdoor movement during the winter months.

Mt. Hood is also appealing if you live in an area, like we do, where snow is a rare event. Here are a few family activities you might consider getting up to in the Mt. Hood area:

  • Downhill skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Tubing (we visited Mt. Hood SkiBowl’s tubing park for their nighttime Cosmic Tubing)
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Forest walks
  • General snowball fights, snowfolk building, and other family snow play
  • Snowmobiling

On our Mt. Hood adventure, we spent a sunny morning romping in deep snow under blue skies at the White River West Sno-Park. Just a few minutes past the junction for highways 26 and 35, and White River West was an easy-access way to get in the snow, keep an easy sight-line on roving kiddos, and, for us, to see Aster develop her own personal Elsa powers:

Where to go in the Mt. Hood area

Mt. Hood National Forest is about an hour and a half drive east of Portland, and it is full of recreation areas to fit your interests:


Our cabin was in a wee area called Welches, which is also near other Mt. Hood towns such as Rhododendron and Government Camp. Each one has clusters of businesses, including grocery stores, restaurants, and cafes, such as:

Here are some other helpful guides to Mt. Hood’s dining:

Scenic drives

What’s better than cruising a fine highway through Oregon’s mountains and forests? While main drag US 26 itself is a great drive, the Mt. Hood area is home other scenic drives (but always check conditions beforehand via travel resources such as TripCheck):

Visit Oregon’s Mt. Hood

Is Mt. Hood world-famous for its lodges and ski slopes?

Too right it is.

Do you have to ski in order to enjoy a visit to Oregon’s tallest peak?

Heck no.

Beautiful any time of year, Mt. Hood is worth a visit and a romp whatever your activity style. Whether on skis or not, get on the mountain!

Want to know more about family travel to Mt. Hood?

Check out our post about our winter wonderland trip and our Mt. Hood family travel video:

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