Where to Bed Down for the Night on Mount Hood
ne of the key joys of Mount Hood is also its downfall: distance-wise, you can get there in just an hour and change from Portland. That makes it a natural day trip—except when everyone else in town has the same idea and Highway 26 turns into a parking lot. Get more mountain with less driving by making a weekend of it. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of delightful, mountain-adjacent lodging.
If You Want to Sleep in an A-Frame
A-frame vacation cabins boomed in popularity in the post-World War II era, when many Americans had disposable income to spare and wanted modern, easy-build second homes. These days, there’s nothing that spells cozy like an A-frame in winter. The cutie pictured above, in Rhododendron, has a woodstove, hot tub, and fire pit, with a spiral staircase up to two open-concept bedrooms. For a bigger crew, we also fell hard for @welchesaframe on Instagram (available for booking via Airbnb), a two-bed, two-bath A-frame about 20 minutes from the ski resorts, with a glorious deep soaking tub tucked under the eaves. Add in a design-conscious owner who occasionally trades overnight stays for pottery from local ceramicists to replenish the cabin’s tableware collection, and you’re in clover.
If You Want an Outdoor Soak
For pure convenience, it’s hard to beat Collins Lake Resort at the west end of Government Camp, close enough to walk to the slopes at Skibowl, and less expensive than its sister property, the adjacent Grand Lodges. Seek out rentals in buildings U–X to minimize traffic noise from 26. The units at this complex have plenty of space to stow your gear, but the real draw is the three heated outdoor pools. Returning guests bring a hiking pole to navigate the icy path down to the more isolated “leisure pool”—time your visit right and you can see Skibowl’s special-occasion fireworks from your perch.
If You Want a Room with a View
Where else but the venerable Timberline Lodge, perhaps the most iconic place to overnight in the entire state? The rooms here are sturdy and cozy, if a little rustic. Wood paneling abounds, and beds in the guest rooms are dressed with Pendleton wool blankets; the chalet rooms, which sleep up to 15 in bunk beds, are ideal for an après-ski group hang. It’s not cheap, but every room comes with a view of either Hood’s peak looming directly outside, or Mount Jefferson and the rest of the Cascade Range in the distance.
If You Want to (Cross-Country) Ski In/Ski Out
Head (way) off the beaten path to the Barlow Cabin, which sleeps eight to 10 people—providing they are up for the 1.5-mile-ish trek into the cabin in the winter. (Taking a vehicle with four-wheel drive and chains may be possible during low-snow years but isn’t really advisable, since more snow can come in at any time.) Popular Trillium Lake is nearby, and you can connect to a spiderweb of other backcountry trails, too. The owners warn that snow can sometimes bury the cabin up to the 32-foot-high second-floor windows, so be prepared to shovel your way out to the detached cedar sauna, with room for six.
If You Love a Steiner Cabin
Master builder Henry Steiner and his sons erected about 100 of these impeccably hand-hewn cabins scattered around the Mount Hood lowlands, with local wood and stones pulled from nearby rivers—the closest you can get to sleeping in the forest while still having a roof over your head. Most of these cabins are now privately owned, and a handful are available for rent. The newest, lovingly restored by carpenter Ian McCluskey and documented on IG at @steiner.cabin, is like being inside your own private Adirondack lodge. It comes complete with sleeping loft and the sweetest of kitchen nooks.
If You Prefer a Tiny House
For those who really like the person they are on vacation with (or the solo traveler), consider the Mount Hood tiny house village in Welches, a collection of seven little homes on wheels, the smallest of which clocks in at 196 square feet. Thanks to cleverly designed sleeping lofts, these feel way larger than their size. Pets are welcome in some cabins for a fee. Ignore the cutesy personas ascribed to each tiny house by the property’s marketing team—must you know that you are sleeping in the Zoe, a “whimsy dreamer, who marches to the beat of her own drum?” We think not.