Hoodoo Ski Area

Sisters, Oregon | C.1938

Photo Credit: Natalie Y Bowman

Snowswept slopes are easy to come by in the Cascade Range in Oregon. This major mountain range located in the U.S. Pacific Northwest is home to some high-altitude volcanic peaks including Mount Hood, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. Since 1938, it’s also been home to the Hoodoo ski resort.

The Cascade Range was home to Native American tribes for thousands of years before the Hoodoo ski resort came into fruition in the early 20th century. Funded by Ed Thurston, Hoodoo was built on federal land granted through an agreement with the Willamette National Forest to help improve economic conditions for western Oregon during the Great Depression.

In 1938, Thurston was granted a permit to set up a rope tow, powered by an automobile engine, in the “bowl” at the base of a cinder cone named Hoodoo Butte. With no access road in place, volunteers hand-carried materials necessary to build a first-aid shack.

In 1950, Hoodoo opened the first double chairlift in the state – and one of the first in the world. The lift, built with timber that had been harvested nearby, carried skiers all the way to the summit.

Hoodoo continued to expand its infrastructure to include a three-story main lodge with sleeping quarters for 100 guests. Many skiers would also stay in dormitory-style accommodations at the nearby Santiam Lodge, where patrons could stay the night for $1.25 if they brought their own sleeping bag; $3.00 if they did not.

Although Hoodoo would face unexpected challenges that threatened its operations – including natural & accidental fires –  it would prevail. Today, the resort has a 60,000 sq foot lodge and five lifts – one named “The Ed Chair” after founder Ed Thurston. The lifts carry skiers around the 800 acres of terrain which include 34 runs and one of the largest snow tubing parks in the American West.

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