The Southern Oregon Coast is teeming with life in the winter. 20,000 gray whales pass through the coastal waters. Local nature lovers gather up and down the coast with binoculars in hand to witness the majesty of nature. Skiers and snowboarders migrate to the mountains to enjoy a long weekend on some of the best riding conditions in the country (this migration often persists beyond winter, as it includes Timberline on Mt. Hood, the only U.S. Ski area open ten months of the year). There are a lot of fun things to do on the Southern Oregon Coast this winter, you might even find undiscovered talent participating in a “Unleash Your Banjo Mojo” workshop from one of our favorite music festivals. Pick your favorite winter activity, enjoy coastal life, stay warm, and have fun! 

Skiing & Snowboarding 

Mt. Ashland (Ashland): Exceptional skiing and riding are waiting for you, your friends, and your family in Southern Oregon. The highest peak of the Siskiyou Mountains is Mount Ashland at 7,533 feet. Lucky for you, some smart people started to develop over 200 acres of the mountain in 1964 for winter skiing (and snowboarding soon entered the scene). There are 44 runs serviced by 4 chair lifts (and one rope tow) and an average 265” of snowfall every year. The season runs mid-December to late April. The mountain is a 3 ½+ hour drive southeast of Bandon near the Oregon-California border. Overnight lodging is not available at the base of the ski area, but there are several lodging options available in Ashland. They have great wineries in the area too for a little après ski! 

Willamette Pass Resort (Crescent Lake): This mountain resort is a 3+ hour drive east of Coos Bay. It is open Wednesdays through Sundays 9:00am – 4:00pm during the season. Lift tickets start at $9 (depending on the month and day of the week) and kids 12 and under ski FREE. Lodging is available about 30 miles away from the resort in Crescent and Oakridge. There are 29 runs serviced by 4 chair lifts (and one surface lift) and an average of 430” of snowfall every year. There are also up to 12 miles of groomed trails for cross-country (Nordic) skiing and snowshoeing. The Nordic trails are groomed on a rotating schedule. 

Winter Whale Watching 

Oregon State Parks: There is a biannual gray whale migration that moves along the Oregon coast. Around 20,000 gray whales move between their feeding grounds in the Bering Sea and Baja California, Mexico. Mid December to mid January is the peak season for winter whale watching in Oregon. 

Oregon State Parks maintains a Whale Watching Center near Newport which is open year round, a 2 ½+ hour drive north of Coos Bay. They also host biannual Whale Watching Weeks with volunteers posted along 20+ sites up and down the coast to help with your whale watching experience. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars! 

Winter Festivals 

Gorse Blossom Festival: This annual festival in Bandon, Oregon began in 2017 with a little seed money from the Greater Bandon Association and the Chamber of Commerce. The festival recognizes the problems created by the gorse flower with a historical display and a life-size dart board of the individual who brought the non-indigenous flower to the area in 1873. The plant has caused devastating fires over the years and actually leveled Bandon in 1914 and 1936.

The festival recognizes the gorse problem but celebrates Oregon with local seafood, beer, wine, and live music during the 3-day February festival. The festival was put on the back burner during the pandemic but is planning to return to its former glory soon.

Winter Music Festival: The 2024 Winter Music Festival in neighboring Florence took place during the last week in January. There will be concerts, workshops, and open jam sessions. The festival focuses on bluegrass, Americana, and folk music. Looking forward to next year! 

We look forward to helping you discover more about life in Southern Oregon and find your perfect home in our coastal paradise. Contact Coastal Sotheby’s International Realty today!

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