Serious skiers and snowboarders know where to go and what to do. That doesn’t mean those who take a more casual approach can’t have fun in the snow, too.
If you just want to play, try riding an inner tube down a snowy slope.
Mt. Hood Skibowl, a little more than an hour drive from downtown Vancouver, offers a conveyor lift so you don’t even have to drag your tube back up the hill for the next run.
A two-hour session of tubing costs between $18 and $28 for people shorter than 48 inches, and $23 to $33 for those who are taller. Cosmic tubing takes over after 5 p.m. with laser lights and party music.
The tubing runs are popular, so Skibowl encourages people to buy tickets online before leaving home.
A few miles farther up the mountain, the family- and novice-friendly Summit Ski Area also offers tubing — $27 for the whole day, rental included.
If you want to give skiing or snowboarding a try, an all-day lift ticket is $38 and equipment rental is $37. For just a few dollars more, buy an $80 package that includes an hour-and-a-half group lesson, as well as equipment rental and a lift ticket. Lessons are offered at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
(Don’t spoil your fun with a $30 fine. Make sure you have an Oregon Sno-Park permit displayed in your car’s windshield at these recreation areas. A day permit is $4 and an annual permit is $25. You can buy them at the resorts.)
If you feel like exploring the winter landscape on snowshoes, but aren’t confident enough to chart your own path, you can join the Mount St. Helens Institute for guided outings at the volcanic monument. The $89 excursions, targeted for ages 12 and up, meet at 10 a.m. and continue until 4 p.m. Register at mshinstitute.org.
The Ape Cave hike, offered Feb. 15, meets at Trail of Two Forests Interpretive Site. The June Lake outings, Jan. 18 and Feb. 8, meet at Marble Mountain Sno-Park. And the Goat Marsh hikes, Feb. 16 and March 7, meet at Kalama Horse Camp.
To park at the meeting sites, you’ll need a Washington State Sno-Park pass to display in your car — $20 per day or $40 per season — so be sure to buy it in advance. The passes are available online (parks.state.wa.us) or at Chelatchie Prairie General Store, Cougar Store and Lakeside 24 Hour Fuel in Clark County.
If you don’t have gear, you can add pole and snowshoe rentals to your order when you register, the institute’s Kate Richardson said.
“These are very family-friendly programs,” she said. “They are great outings for novices.”
And if you would rather learn about snow than roll around in it, check out The Wonders of Winter Second Saturday event from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Water Resources Center. Families with elementary school-aged children can have fun with hands-on activities, games and crafts exploring cold-weather phenomena and animals’ winter adaptations. Plus, kids can test their animal tracking skills. Children should be accompanied by a parent or guardian.