With 2020's opening day following Thanksgiving, the earliest seen in 11 years, Hoodoo Ski Area has broken sales records across the board—and it's only December.
"This time last year, we didn't open until the middle of January," said Marketing Director Leif Williams, noting that mid-December as a more typical opening. "In October, we extended our spring sale price on season passes for a 24-hour period and saw huge revenue, just from that one day. Black Butte Ranch has also seen record sales in their ski and stay packages."
Located 22 miles from Sisters on Highway 20, with a base elevation of 4,668 feet, Hoodoo can be a bit of a wild card. It boasts a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere while offering all the premier options of a resort. "You'll feel welcome here whether you're in Levi's or tricked out in Patagonia," noted Williams.
Hoodoo's most sought after amenity? Night skiing. Post-Christmas and continuing throughout the season, Hoodoo offers Thriftski Thursdays, 12 hours of continuous riding, three days a week. On Fridays and Saturdays, riders can upgrade a day pass for $5.
Another benefit to Hoodoo terrain, if you're still learning the ropes, is the close proximity of rental pickup to lift lines, and piecewise friendly advancing difficulty on runs. "Our progressive tracks are all accessible from the same lifts," explains Williams. For families, this means everyone can ride up together, choose their preferred terrain down, and easily meet up at the bottom to catch another chair up.
On choice sections of terrain like Chuck's Backside, the floor drops out over epic horizon lines—expansive views above, parachute worthy expenses below. Hang on to your Kinkos and camo.
For folks wanting to RV overnight, Hoodoo offers 64 sites; 34 with hookups and 30 dry. Williams said it's an especially unique experience to ski until 9 pm, then roll out the fire pit and sit out under the stars, only to drift off and do it all again in the morning.
Night skiing was just a twinkle in the eye of Hoodoo founders back in 1946 when the first U.S. Department of Agriculture letters of inquiry were submitted for a ski tow. By 1948 a lodge plan was approved and the rest is history. Today, Chuck Shepard, Hoodoo's CEO, keeps a regularly updated page on the website addressed directly to snow patrons. And, he brought a little something else with him to Hoodoo...
“You’ll feel welcome here whether you’re in Levi’s or tricked out in Patagonia.”—Leif Williamstweet this
Akin to Yeti or Big Foot, Harold the Hodag is a Wisconsin legend and the official mascot of Hoodoo. Folklore has it the first Hodag, a green dinosaur-esque creature, was discovered in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in the late 1800s. About 100 years later, living deep in the snow at Hoodoo, Chuck Shepard, found another Hodag, named Harold. Originally a carnivore, now preferring goggles, single gloves, or socks with a mixture of French fries for sustenance, Harold regularly poses for photo ops around the Hoodoo lodge.
Like all of central Oregon's favorite commercial recreation hot spots, Hoodoo has a COVID pivot in full swing. Launching fairly seamlessly because of a condensed footprint, the main bullet points include masks in locations where 6 feet of distance is not maintainable and in lift lines.
Entering the lodge is limited to staff only and a series of "to-go" and rental service windows have been constructed around the perimeter.
"We have set up a nice little bar/kitchen in our old dining room accessible to customers with sliders," said Doug Ritchie, lodge manager. "They are working great. People have been very happy we are open and that we are serving food and beverages." This is supplemented with a 50x50-foot tent sprinkled with spaced-out tables and heaters where visitors can consume their food and beverages with some protection from the elements.
While the jury is still out on La Niña forecasts, Hoodoo has seen more snowfall early season than in over a decade. This come-as-you-are welcoming winter gem is offering lessons and is operating full steam ahead.