Anthony Lakes deserves ranking as top 5 ski area

By Observer editorial December 22, 2011 09:47 pm

The Anthony Lakes Ski Area got a really large feather in its wool cap recently.

Sunset Magazine, a lifestyle publication that focuses on homes, cooking, gardening and travel, named Anthony Lakes one of the five best Nordic ski areas adjoining an Alpine area in North America.

We don’t expect, based on Sunset Magazine’s ranking, for half of Portland to show up on our doorstep panting with anticipation. But we do believe that if the word gets out we could get people from the Tri-Cities, Boise and other urban centers to give our family friendly ski area a try.

For our dollar, it’s well worth the road trip.

The ski area has a triple chairlift for Alpine enthusiasts, boarders and skiers alike, and about 30 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced.

If you’re a resident of Baker City, La Grande or other local towns, the ski area is like a neighborhood party of old friends, except at 7,100 feet elevation and with great powder snow.

The ski area and its regulars also make outsiders feel welcome. Some people return year after year, attracted by the friendly atmosphere, the lack of lift lines and what they call the best dry powder in Oregon.

And the prices are astoundingly affordable compared to many ski areas. Where else can you get an annual senior pass (for those 70 and older) for a mere $109?

What do you get for your money? You get to ski from the highest base elevation of any ski area in Oregon. At the top of the lift, at 8,000-feet above sea level, you get see-forever views over the Baker Valley to the Eagle Cap range.

You also get a Nordic center in a beautiful historic building that has been revamped this year to offer beer, wine, and snacks — as well as a great fireplace and a cozy bistro area upstairs.

There are Alpine and Nordic rentals for those who don’t own their own equipment, or who are just passing through on Interstate 84 and want to take a ski break.

You might want to give the ski area a try this holiday season. The ski area closes early on Christmas Eve and is closed all day Christmas but otherwise will be open for skiing every day through New Year’s Day. After that, it returns to its regular Thursday through Sunday schedule.

If you haven’t tried out the ski area before, give its Alpine and Nordic trails a spin. What better way to get outside and get your Vitamin D in the middle of a long, cold winter?

If you are a regular at this now less hidden gem, you’re one of the lucky ones.