Endless Kids Fun at Mt. Hood

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Everyone knows that Mt. Hood is a prime wintertime destination for the entire family, but did you know that it’s also a ton of fun in the summer and fall? With its close proximity to Portland and tons of activities for kids, Mt. Hood is the perfect place to explore– whether as a day-trip or for a weekend getaway with the entire family!

Go: The summer season at Mt. Hood really depends on how much snow they’ve gotten that winter – in general, the summer skiing season begins in late May and runs through August and you can explore the other Mt. Hood summer activities once it starts getting warmer and the snow pack has melted down in late June.

Approximate travel time: From Portland, it takes about 90-minutes to get to the recreation areas of Mt. Hood.

What to do: Adventure Park at Skibowl is one of the main attractions at Mt. Hood – they have endless fun things to do on the mountain including an Alpine Slide, a 2,400 square foot play zone with slides and bouncy rooms, mini golf, pony rides, kiddy go-carts and more. Most of the activities have age and height guidelines and for many of these, age three is the breaking point – younger kids could certainly have fun as well, but be prepared for what they can and can’t participate in. On the other hand, if you are a family with older and younger siblings, this is a great spot to visit because there are options for both age groups to enjoy.

The entire family can take the ride up the Magic Mile Sky Ride at Timberline Lodge. It takes 30-minutes to ride up and back on the lift, or try riding the lift to the top and then walking back down to the lodge! A family pack of four tickets is $42 and children under age six ride free. This is a fun way to get a view of Mt. Hood, plus is quite a thrill for the little ones!

If you’re a family that skis and snowboards, you can enjoy the snow all year round at Mt. Hood – Timberline Lodge offers lift service to their amazing Palmer Snowfield during the summer, as well as camps for skiers and snowboarders. Due to the skill-level of the runs at this elevation, summer skiing is not recommended for newbies to the mountain. Little ones should already know the slopes well and ski closely with experienced parents.

For even more ways to enjoy Mt. Hood this summer, check out all the options at Mt. Hood Adventure. They offer limitless ways to explore the mountain, with and without guides, including fun themed-hiking tours to see the mountain’s best waterfalls, wildflowers or bird watching hot-spots. Whatever might interest your family the most, they have a way to check it out at Mt. Hood. Visit their fun list of Summer Activities at Mt. Hood for some ideas!

Where to shop: Mt. Hood isn’t necessarily considered a shoppers paradise, by any stretch of the imagination, but there are some fun shopping options in each of the resort villages as well as along the way to and from Mt. Hood. Along the road to Mt. Hood is The Oregon Candy Farm (48620 SE Highway 26 / 503-688-5066) – they’ve been making candy for over 70-years and offer over 100 varieties making it the perfect spot to stop for a treat to make the ride back to Portland easier (and quieter!).

Along the road to Mt. Hood, you’ll also drive along the Hood River Fruit Loop – a 35-mile stretch of road filled with orchards, fruit stands and u-pick farms. From pears to apples to cherries to wine, it’s worth stopping on your way up to Mt. Hood. Visit their website for detailed information about the Fruit Loop and where to stop.

Possible lunch spots: If you’re planning a day-trip to Mt. Hood or are doing some hiking away from the resorts, you’ll want to bring your own lunch and snacks. But, if you’ll be hanging close to the main attractions or want somewhere to grab a bite before the drive home, try The High Mountain Café for yummy deli-style fare or The Ratskeller for pizza and a family-friendly pub experience.

How to dress: Going to Mt. Hood is all about dressing in layers. Obviously if you are planning on playing in the snow, you’ll need clothes to keep you dry as well. But for a basic day at Mt. Hood, plan on comfortable, sturdy, close-toed shoes for the entire family (ones that can go from the water to the land would be great!) and an extra layer like a heavy sweatshirt with a hood or a fleece jacket to stay warm.

What else you should bring: Leave your stroller at home when you come to Mt. Hood – we recommend a back- or front-pack instead for the littlest visitors. Also, lots of water and a change of clothes for everyone, just in case! A small backpack for snacks, wipes and sunscreen would probably be helpful too, so that you don’t have to keep going back to the car.

Need to know: Plan your activities at Mt. Hood in advance – there is so much to do that if you get to the mountain without doing some planning, you’ll be overwhelmed with choices! Bringing cash is also helpful.

Bonus: It’s easy to make a trip to Mt. Hood a weekend trip. There are endless places to stay on the mountain and prices during the off-season are fairly reasonable. Another option is to book a condo or house for the weekend – try searching rentals on VRBO – summer rates are usually cheaper!

Cost: The cost of this trip depends on what you choose to do – it can easily be very low cost if you bring your own food and do some exploring and hiking on your own. Activities at the resorts are moderately priced and some are free for young children.

Is Mt. Hood your family’s favorite summer destination? Share your tips for making the best of it in the comments below!

— Katie Kavulla