Saturday was undoubtedly one of the best mid-December bluebird days we’ve experienced here on Mt. Hood. Fresh snow from the night before, temps in the teens, and a great groom. A lot of mountain open, with all six high-speed quads, plus four other lifts operating, helped spread out the crowd. Those that could get in the parking lot, that is.
The turnout of snow enthusiasts trekking to Mt. Hood Saturday was predictable, yet stunning. Our lots filled at 9:08 AM - we set up queuing on our Access Road (Hood River side) and guests waited for any available spots. Some waited a long time. Others decided it wasn’t worth the wait and either went home, or tried an adventure and came back later. Still, lots were jammed, with only intermittent releases of the queue to backfill spaces in our lots. Even though we parked out, our scan count was still less than 70% of a normal busy day at Meadows. So what happened?
Let’s remember - it was a bluebird day with fresh snow. That’s the main thing - we’ve never seen people hang out as late as they did today. Normally, at least one of our lots reopens by noon. It really was that good, and the pictures and video help illustrate that.
And we are also learning that there are fewer people traveling together in vehicles, and we’re not running shuttles yet. Park and Ride from Portland has been cancelled this season, and the Hood River CAT shuttle starts Monday (reservations required). So what we’re finding is each car this season is carrying fewer people. We didn’t open our Twilight Lot Saturday - as we expected with the forecast turnout our Main, Sunrise and HRM lots would suffice. So now we know, and as we understand these new visitation patterns, including the average passengers per vehicle, we will align our visitation management with parking and uphill capacities. If we expect a big turnout and we have a good forecast for our upper lifts to operate, and we are confident we can manage our experience in a COVID-responsible way, then we’ll utilize the Twilight Lot.
Also, last season’s pass holders who didn’t renew, and those who have leftover vouchers for tickets have until December 20 to use them up. And today was a spectacular day to do so. All of this added to today’s turnout.
There were guests who had purchased lift tickets, lessons and/or equipment rentals for today who never made it into the lot. We apologize for that - and we have a way to return today’s products back to stored value for you to use on another visit. You’ll find the details under “Date Specific Single Day Tickets, Lessons & Rentals Refund Policy”.
Looking towards Sunday - we have weather coming - with 2-4 inches forecast late tonight and 9-13 inches tomorrow. We do not expect the upper mountain lifts to operate, which will add pressure to the lower mountain lifts. We don’t expect near the turnout we had today, and we cut off day lift ticket sales for Sunday (we also limited day ticket sales for Saturday). It will definitely be storm riding (more like Friday than today) and the storm is forecast to become more intense as the day goes on. So free refills, which should also help spread the crowd out.
We also want to recognize and thank all of our guests for their patience as we work out the kinks in this new season. This was a great test for us before our normal peak season time frame and we are learning. Also - thanks to everyone for wearing masks covering both your nose and your mouth. Working together, we can keep each other healthy and have a long, sustained season.