Sledding might just be the easiest, most inexpensive (and dare we say most fun?) way to experience winter. With snow plus slope, all you need is an inner tube, a plastic sled, or even just a big piece of cardboard. And unlike some other winter sports, it’s fun for the whole family and there’s almost no learning curve.
If you live near Medford, there’s even more good news: surrounded on all sides by national forest and close to a handful of incredible, state-designated Sno Parks, the area is a veritable sledding epicenter. While you can drag your toboggan up any number of open hills, a handful of designated zones rise to the top of the local-favorite list. Equipped with fire pits, warming huts, and easy parking, these are some of the best sledding and snow-tubing spots in southern Oregon.
Why bother with the lines and lift tickets of the Mount Ashland Ski Area when you can have just as much downhill fun right next door? Located southeast of the mountain’s summit and accessible from the ski area’s main parking lot, the Grouse Gap Sno-Park offers great access to Nordic skiing, snowy hills, and quiet forest-play zones just off the Pacific Crest Trail. (Note: You’ll need to register for an Oregon Sno-Park Permit to park here.)
Equipped with a log cabin-style warming hut and a wide-open bowl perfect for sledding, Annie Creek Sno-Park offers a picturesque setting for family winter outings. Because it’s located at 4,400 feet—about 3,000 feet higher than Medford—it starts getting snow as early as November, which makes it a great place to kick off the winter season. The park also serves as an access point to miles of snowshoeing and snowmobiling trails, so multi-sport enthusiasts might want to consider coming for a full weekend. Be sure to bring your own sled and your Sno-Park Permit for parking.
Located about an hour north of Medford, the Farewell Bend Snow Play Area is one of the more picturesque sledding locations on the list. Come winter, icicles cling to the branches of the surrounding old-growth forest, and the late afternoon light turns the snow gold. Take advantage of the beauty (and the convenient warming hut) with either a quick stop on your way to Crater Lake, or on a day-trip all its own. All you’ll need is a tube, sled or saucer and an Oregon Sno-Park Permit.