BEND, OR -- Mountain snow pack may be at record lows; however, winter tourism does not appear to be suffering. Mt. Bachelor officials report about half the base they had this time last year, but lift ticket sales are holding steady.
Executive Director of the Central Oregon Visitors Association Alana Hughson tells KBND News lodging reservations are pacing ahead for the season. "Perhaps folks who were planning a fairly intense powder experience are still hitting the mountain, but then they're engaging in other activities," Hughson said. "The good news for Central Oregon's economy is that the visitors have continued to come through the winter."
Julie Koeberle, a hydrologist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, took a trip to a test site a few miles south of Mt. Hood late last week. According to her, the Cascades are seeing a new record-low snow pack. "Normally we have six feet of snow, but [right now] we have no snow," Koeberle says. "This is the first time since we've started recording here since 1981 that there's been no snow."
For Hughson, that means tourists this spring break will likely spend time in different parts of Central Oregon. Already, Smith Rock is reporting record numbers, as tourists visit sites typically reserved for later in the spring. Overall, COVA is seeing visitor numbers up from this time last year.
Mt. Bachelor reports good ski conditions and positive ticket sales. Hughson says that is likely due to poor conditions elsewhere in the region. With 41 inches of snow at the base and 85 inches mid-mountain, the Central Oregon ski resort is one of the few in the west to actually have snow. Mt. Bachelor expects to be in operation until May 24, if conditions remain sustainable.