Most Fun Things To Do In Mt. Hood With Kids

by | Dec 7, 2021 | Destinations, Family Adventures, USA, Weekend Trips, West Coast

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Standing proud at over 11,000 feet, Mt. Hood is hard to miss. Mt. Hood is part of the Cascade Range of active volcanoes. Once a channel spewing enough lava to form a mountain, scientists voted Mt. Hood “Volcano Most Likely To Erupt In Oregon.”  Don’t worry though, if you decide to visit with your family, many experts believe Mt. Hood is in permanent hibernation. It hasn’t made a peep since 2002 when it rattled and rolled, probably scaring a skier or two, and it hasn’t actually erupted since 1907.

These days, Mt. Hood is a great place to come for a vacation or just an extended weekend. Mt. Hood offers the whole family a ton of things to do during both the winter and summer months. Mt. Hood is a short drive (50-miles, a little over an hour) from Portland, Oregon with beautiful scenery along the historic Columbia River Highway. Or, if you have some time, take the longer route up the Mt. Hood scenic byway, and stop by Government Camp, before heading up to the historic Timberline Lodge.



The scenic byway in the Columbia River Gorde during the winter – Photo by Dale Nibbe on Unsplash





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Things To Do In Mt. Hood in Winter


Winter at Mt. Hood brings many different options for family fun, dining, and lodging on the mountain. It’s the perfect place to kick off the ski season, typically in late November, with approximately 500+ inches of new powder every year. Add to that the stunning 12 glaciers that sit on Mt. Hood’s peaks and it’s truly a winter wonderland! There is something to do at Mt. Hood for the entire family, no matter how old (or young) you are, or the extent of your athletic abilities! 

Not a fan of skiing? There are plenty of other fun things to do like snowboarding, snow-shoeing, tubing, sledding, trekking, cross-country skiing, or (like me) you can simply enjoy the beautiful scenery and historic Timberline lodge with all it has to offer! 

Built in 1937, Timberline Lodge is a grand lodge for guests wanting to enjoy the magnificent expansive high-alpine environment of Mt. Hood. The Lodge is like stepping back in time, yet with all modern conveniences available, including a stunning stone fireplace and some of the best views anywhere.



COZY LOBBY OF Timberline Lodge: pin for best things to do in Mt. Hood with kids

The main fireplace in the lobby of Timberline Lodge is sure to warm you up after a day of snow-play! Photo courtesy of Timberline Lodge



Skiing/Snowboarding/Sledding at Mt. Hood


Mt. Hood territory features four different ski resorts/areas from beginner bunny slopes, to expert double black diamond runs, and the longest ski season in North America! From late November through Labor Day, the snowpack stays plush till the end of the season right below the summit at Timberline’s Ski Area



Ski Resorts around Mt. Hood


There are five complete ski resorts around Mt. Hood. Here is everything you need to know about each one!



Timberline Summit Pass


Timberline Summit Pass – * (formerly known as Summit Ski Area) is the main park at Mt. Hood, as well as Oregon’s oldest ski area and the second oldest in the entire world! The area is now officially part of the Timberline Ski Area as of October 1, 2021, drastically increasing Timberline’s vertical terrain to 4,540 feet, and is the longest in the United States! Unfortunately, they do not have lift service through the whole thing yet, but dare-devils, don’t despair! From Timberline, jump on the Magic Mile Chair Lift to the Palmer Snowcat access point to be taken (by Snowcat) to the top of Palmer Glacier, a perfect place to start your epic black diamond ride down to the bottom of Summit Pass! 

Conveniently located at the east end of the village of Government Camp, the more family-friendly ski area (the old Summit Ski area) is well known for its huge 2,300-foot-long that allows riders access to beginner and intermediate runs totaling over 70 acres of easy terrain. Guests can tube at Summit Ski Area, but not at “Timberline” itself, even though they have combined the parks now, my suggestion is to look for the signs – you’ll see them.



downhill skiier: best things to do with kids at Mt. Hood

Vertical black-diamond runs are the experienced skier’s dream and Timberline has some of the best in the West -Photo by Max Kramer on Unsplash



Mt. Hood Skibowl


The Mt. Hood Skibowl features two different separate base areas with 65 runs accessed by four chair lifts and towed lines. The landscape varies from gentle bunny hills to steep expert black diamond runs. This is a great place for families with a mix of new and more experienced skiers, as it has some amazing beginners’ packages that include a 2-hour professional lesson, along with equipment rental (skis or boards) and lift tickets. There’s also a class for “Learn to Ski/1-2-3” for skiers or snowboarders, which includes: 3 separate 2-hour lessons, rentals, and lift tickets. (This program is for everyone ages 8+) 

In addition to skiing, the Skibowl has Cosmic Snow-Tubing featuring LED lights, laser light shows, black lights, and music. Picture yourself (or your kids) speeding down the hill with today’s hit-music blasting from the speakers, as the laser light show dazzles the night skies above! It’s one of the best things for the entire family to do together at Skibowl.



snow slides and fireworks: best things to do with kids at Mt. Hood

Cosmic Tubing at the Skibowl – fun for everyone! (Provided by the park)



Cooper Spur


The Cooper Spur is a family-friendly ski area specializing in affordable winter fun! It is located adjacent to Mt. Hood National Forest on Mt. Hood’s north face with a double chair lift and rope tow accessing 10 ski runs consisting of 50+ acres of beginner and intermediate terrain, as well an Alpine Lodge that provides snacks and refreshments, because, let’s face it – skiing is hard work!

 Whether you’re a total novice or need to improve your self-confidence, the team of professional instructors at Cooper Spur keeps the learning environment fun while teaching skills that will help improve your skiing or downhill boarding. They’ll teach you techniques that will keep you learning even after the lesson has finished! Both private and group lessons are available.



Ski lifts in Mt. hood best things to do with kids mt. hood

Easy access lifts make riding a breeze – Photo by Max Kramer on Unsplash



Mt. Hood Meadows


Mt. Hood Meadows is one of the largest ski areas in Oregon, offering more than 2,000 acres of terrain that ranges from steep runs on the front side, to gently sloped beginner runs of Vista, to the wild heart-pounding double-back diamond runs of the Canyons. 

This is another excellent park for beginners, they offer midweek ski specials, and both kids and beginner packages with lessons, lift tickets, and rentals included. Beyond just downhill skiing and snowboarding, this area also offers snowshoe areas, Nordic skiing, and some scheduled night skiing.



Cross country skiing: best things to do with kids at Mt. Hood

Easy to get around, Mt. Hood area really does offer something for everyone in the family – Photo by Alain Wong on Unsplash



Things To Do In Mt. Hood in the Summer


When the snow thaws in the Summertime, Mt. Hood Skibowl turns into Mt. Hood Adventure Park with more than 20 attractions for both the young and young at heart! These awesome thrill rides include a half-mile dual alpine slide that hit speeds of up to 20 mph, a bungee jump & a bungee trampoline for the younger kids, a mountain bike park with over 40+ miles of trails, Indy-style go-karts, batting cages, an 18-hole miniature golf course, rock-climbing walls, zip-line, horseback riding, and so much more. 

Skibowl West is home to the Half Mile Alpine Slide and Sky Chair Lift that takes you up, up, and away, while the Skibowl East has most of the attractions, and is within walking distance to Government Camp, where you can grab food before, during, or after your adventure time! They also have hiking and mountain biking trails on park grounds, and nearby, in the Mt. Hood National Forest as well. Both the Skibowl West and the Skibowl East have parking lots, and there is also a complimentary shuttle that you can take between the two parks if you want to just park your car and enjoy the day.



Adventure park slide and ski lift with kids on both: best things to do with kids at Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood Adventure Park – the name says it all!





Things To Do Around Mt. Hood


From Mt. Hood, you can also take a quick 35-mile drive and cruise down to Hood River, where there’s wine tasting at the Mt. Hood Winery (along with several others). You can also take a spin on a historical Mt Hood train ride, as well as hike the whole family can enjoy along the Columbia River or Multnomah Falls. Even in the winters the roads are kept clear and are easily accessible, but if you don’t feel like driving, there’s always the Mt. Hood Express, a transit system serving Mount Hood Corridor communities. The Mount Hood Express travels along Highway 26 from Sandy East to Timberline Lodge, serving multiple ski resorts and the neighborhoods of Government Camp, Rhododendron, Welches, Wemme, and Brightwood. There are many transportation options for your vacation so you don’t have to worry about anything other than fun. 



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Mt. Hood standing proud over a blanket of trees: best things to do with kids at Mt. Hood

In the summers hiking, camping, fishing, trekking and so much more can be done in the Mt. Hood National Forests – Photo by Joel Gaff on Unsplash



When You Go




Getting There


Delta, Alaskan Air, or American Air offer non-stop flights between LAX (Los Angeles, CA) and PDX (Portland, OR) – the flight is around 2.25 hours and is easier than driving. From PDX you will need to either rent a car at the airport or have one of the many Mt. Hood shuttles pick you up and take you to the mountain (depending on where you are staying). 

Check out Cheap O’Air to get the best deal on flights:



If you’d rather drive, it’s about 950 miles or 16 hours. Break it up into a few days and see the beautiful regions between California and Oregon.



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Where to Stay in Mt. Hood


The historic Timberline Lodge, built-in 1937 has 14 types of rooms, (including ADA accessible) and chalets to choose from, accommodating anywhere between 2 to 15 people! They also have a variety of amenities that include a year-round heated outdoor pool, hot tub, sauna, fitness room, Wi-Fi.  It is a phenomenal place to stay – the huge fireplace in the main lobby is stunning, and you cannot beat the views at sunrise/sunset! 

The Lodge at Government Camp boasts seven spacious Mt. Hood condos. As guests of the Lodge, you have access to the condo amenities throughout Government Camp and the amenities at Timberline Lodge as well. You’ll get gourmet kitchens and fireplaces, while still being able to enjoy the heated pool, hot tub, and sauna at Timberline.

If a hotel is more you, there are a few excellent choices, with various prices and room sizes. One of the best options is the Best Western Mt. Hood Inn. With amenities such as a hot tub, Free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, parking, on-site laundry, and 24-hour front desk, this was one of our favorites with our kids for the price and convenience!

Cooper Spur Mountain Resort is another top pick – a five-minute drive from the ski area, it’s easily one of the more family-friendly choices! Guest services include things like: concierge service, daily housekeeping, and they can get your ski equipment rentals, and ski passes (for a fee). They also have breakfast included with your stay, an on-site restaurant, a bar, and free parking for guests.  

The Sandy Salmon Bed & Breakfast Lodge is located in Sandy, Oregon (within 35 minutes of skiing). Mirror Lake Trail and Bridal Veil Falls State Park are close by if you want to discover the area’s water adventures with paddle boarding, white water rafting, and fishing all nearby. For those wishing to experience the area’s natural beauty, you can also explore Mount Hood National Forest, with miles of hiking and biking trails just 15 to 30 minutes away.

BW Premier Collection Mt Hood Oregon Resort is a popular hotel with all of the amenities one could want including a spa, hot tub, pet-friendly rooms, an indoor pool, two restaurants and bars, and a coffee shop. However, it is NOT located inside the Government Camp area, instead, this hotel sits in the small town of Welches Oregon, about 20 minutes from the Skibowl.



Kid-Friendly Restaurants at Mt. Hood


In the Government Camp area, some of the best choices are Charlie’s Mountain View RestaurantA local favorite and open weekends for breakfast, and every day for both lunch and dinner. Charlie’s is delicious American food!  From a simple burger to a full prime rib dinner (offered Friday & Saturday nights), they have just about everything your tastebuds desire, including a full bar. The Glacier Pub House is open Wednesday – Sunday, is kid-friendly, with locally sourced pub fare and 14 beers on tap plus ciders, and soda and juices for the little ones! To round out the list at Government Camp, we have the original location of the Mt. Hood Brewery. Opened in 1991, it sits at the gateway to Mt. Hood in Government Camp and is open Friday – Monday from 11 AM-8 PM. They have something for everyone (even your picky eater), in a cozy atmosphere with a killer drink menu including ‘stubborn sodas’ like Citrus Hibiscus Orange, or Agave Vanilla Cream Soda. Adults can sample one of their famous craft beers, such as the Citrus Sour made with blood oranges or hard ciders with dinner.

For even more dining options, there are several other restaurants located at the Timberline Lodge. First, the Cascade Dining Room at Timberline: open 7 days a week, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (reservations are highly recommended!) has a wonderful view and a full menu of Pacific Northwest cuisine sure to satisfy any appetite.  Above the dining room in Timberline sits the Ram’s Head Bar. It is open 7 days a week from 2-9 PM and is the perfect location for family-friendly food or a light snack with jaw-dropping views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson. Up next, we have a pair of interesting eats – located in the Wy’East Day Lodge (at Timberline also), the Wy’East Café offers meals in a contemporary setting, and the Y’Bar (located next door) is family-friendly and offers a VERY limited food menu and beverages. Please do take note that they are both only open Fridays – Sundays from 10 AM till 4 PM. On to the amazing and delicious Phlox Point Cabin. This cabin was built in 1930 and served as a warming hut for more than 60 years – however, they recently changed it into a mouthwatering mid-mountain ski-in-ski-out lunch spot! Last, but not least at Timberline is the Blue Ox Bar. The bar is tucked away in what was once a woodshed, but don’t let the size fool you – this cool little bar serves up savory pizza and of course, Mt. Hood Brewery Craft beers! What better way to end a snowy fun-filled day?

Celebrate the joys of the Cascade Mountains at Mt. Hood any time of the year. There’s always something amazing going on there!





Tubing and skiing down the mountains



As a writer, author, and active parent, Kristy is a writer who is committed to providing informative stories and travel tips for parents as well as couples. She has spent the last few years working on her fiction novels, and travel guides, but is currently most passionate about the work she is doing writing for magazines. She is an alum of Northwest Christian University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in business. She loves to travel and spends a lot of time with her family, gardening, and remodeling their home. You can follow her at


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