An Insider’s Guide to Winter in Klamath County

What’s your favorite winter activity? Do you enjoy snowshoeing through mellow forests? Taking horse-drawn sleigh rides? Maybe cuddling up with piping-hot cocoa while watching the snowy scenes outside from the comfort of a cozy cabin?

Whatever your brand of winter fun, you’ll find plenty to enjoy around Klamath County—from the lakes and meadows of the Klamath Basin to the heart of the Cascade Range. So we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite ideas in this insider’s guide to winter in Klamath County. Have fun, and stay warm out there.

Winter Fun at the Bill Collier Ice Arena

Winter is a magical time around Klamath Falls—and the outdoor Bill Collier Ice Arena at Running Y Resort is an iconic stop where the fun is limited only by what you can do on the ice.

New and veteran ice skaters alike can enjoy open-skate sessions and the occasional lesson to sharpen their skills, hockey lessons are open to children, curling lessons showcase the growing sport, and father-daughter skate sessions take place the second Sunday of the month between November and March. One of the seasonal highlights is the annual ice show, which takes place in February and includes a figure skating exhibition starring Olympic athletes and world champions. 

Guided Snowshoe Hikes at Crater Lake National Park

Each winter, roughly 42 feet of snow blankets the backcountry of Crater Lake National Park, creating a winter wonderland best explored via ranger-guided snowshoe walks all season long.

The free walks, offered on weekends and holidays between mid-December and April, last about two hours and boast one to two miles of moderately strenuous snowshoeing. The off-trail experience includes stops to discuss how the park’s plants and wildlife survive harsh winters, as well as exploration of the meadows and forests around the Crater Lake rim. (If the road to the rim is closed, snowshoe treks cover the quiet terrain around the park’s headquarters.)

Best of all: No snowshoeing experience is necessary, snowshoes are provided free of charge, and there is no fee for the tour—other than the park’s entrance fee, which is $20 in winter. Tours are open to those eight years and older. Advance reservations are required—and can be made by calling the park at 541-594-3100. 

Sledding, Snowshoeing, and Cross-Country Skiing at Klamath County Sno-Parks

Wherever mountain snow falls in Oregon, you’ll find the state’s Sno-Parks—forested, snow-covered playgrounds that are maintained all winter long for all kinds of outdoor recreation. And in Klamath County, a handful of Sno-Parks in the heart of the Cascades offer easy access to snowy fun.

Annie Creek Sno-Park sits about halfway between Klamath Falls and Crater Lake National Park and is among the more developed Sno-Parks in the region; at Annie Creek, you’ll find two vault toilets and a warming shelter that features a wood stove and benches for when you need a break from the elements. The fun at Annie Creek includes several miles of snowmobile trails and an idyllic, bowl-shaped hill for sledding to your heart’s content.

Just five minutes from the community of Chemult, Walt Haring Sno-Park is most famous for being the host of the annual Chemult Sled Dog Race. But even if you miss the festive event, the Sno-Park offers several miles of cross-country and snowmobile trails (the latter of which affords access to scenic Miller Lake 12 miles away). Views from along the cross-country skiing trails, meanwhile, encompass ponderosa pine forests and nearby Mount Thielsen.

Some 45 minutes west of Klamath Falls, in the heart of the Cascade Range, Summit Sno-Park is the only Sno-Park in the entire Fremont-Winema National Forest that’s open only to cross-country skiers. From the parking area, outdoor enthusiasts can access the Pacific Crest Trail and nearby Sky Lakes Wilderness; ski rentals are available at Lake of the Woods Resort, just a few miles away.

Sleigh Rides, Snowmobiling, and More at Odell Lake

At the eastern edge of the Cascade Range, Odell Lake Resort is a year-round destination that offers a snowy mountain getaway all winter long.

You can fit several vacations’ worth of fun into a stay at the rustic resort, which offers horse-drawn sleigh rides with a Clydesdale horse (a fun outing that includes a cup of hot chocolate or coffee), easy access to the slopes at nearby Willamette Pass Resort, on-site snowshoe trails (with rentals available), and snowmobile trails that ascend all the way to the rim of Crater Lake National Park. (Note that Odell Lake Resort is the only place to rent snowmobiles in Klamath County.)

And if your idea of enjoying the wintry weather involves a thick blanket, warm beverage, and large windows, the resort hosts fully outfitted cabins that sleep up to 16 and welcoming lodge rooms.

Winter Wonders at Lake of the Woods Resort

Sitting at the crest of the Cascades, Lake of the Woods Resort embodies what it means to enjoy a wintry mountain getaway—and even hosts vintage cabins to complete the vibe.

Away from the cabins, the resort’s offerings are numerous: ice fishing for trout and perch (with beginner-friendly amenities that include pop-up tent, sled, and auger rentals for cutting through the ice), trails for snowmobilers, snowshoe rentals, and skating on the resort’s namesake lake (especially early in the season, when the ice is smoothest).

And if you plan a visit in February around Valentine’s Day weekend, you might catch the annual Kite Festival, where visitors are encouraged to bring their kites and fly them from atop the resort’s ice-covered lake; a show from local kite enthusiasts rounds out the festival.

Cozy Overnight Stays Around Klamath County

Is there anything more bucolic than heading into the mountains and spending the weekend at a resort—relaxing by the warmth of the fire, watching the snowfall on stately fir trees, and taking a deep breath of the fresh, alpine air?

We think not—which is why we’re happy to recommend a few quiet resorts for low-key getaways this winter on your next Southern Oregon vacation.

Overnight stays at Lake of the Woods Resort include a variety of cozy cabins (some on the lakeshore) that include winter-friendly amenities—including jetted tubs, electric fireplaces, and soft beds. Other perks include fully stocked kitchens, restrooms with showers, and outdoor fire pits.

Odell Lake Resort, meanwhile, hosts more than a dozen retro-style cabins that sleep anywhere from two to 16. Amenities vary from cabin to cabin but typically include full kitchens, wood stoves, gas heat, and comfortable furniture; some cabins offer scenic lake views. Lodge rooms and suites, meanwhile, boast wide-open lake views, updated rooms, and access to a common area with a large fireplace.

 And in Fort Klamath, Crater Lake Resort offers a mix of thoughtful amenities and close proximity to Oregon’s only national park. Overnight stays include well-appointed cabins (some of which sit creekside) with full bathrooms and kitchens, as well as cooking and dining essentials; other, cozier cabins feature kitchenettes and satellite televisions.

Bird-Watching Throughout the Klamath Basin

Not only is birding a year-round activity around Klamath County, winter just might be the best time of year to spy pelicans, bald eagles, herons, and other migrating species across the region.

Klamath County sits along the Pacific Flyway, the largest migratory bird route in North America—which brings more than 350 species and roughly one million birds to the Klamath Basin each year. These birds, needing to rest and nest along their arduous journey, help themselves to the area’s wide range of habitats—including desert lakes, meadows, wetlands, and riparian forests.

If you want to join the fun and try bird-watching this winter, you can check out the Klamath Basin’s six national wildlife refuges, which collectively comprise nearly 200,000 acres of rich ecosystems; the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, for instance, is a fantastic place to spot some of the nearly 500 bald eagles that winter in the region—the largest such concentration of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. And every February over President’s Day weekend the Winter Wings Festival celebrates the birds of Klamath County with presentations, workshops, children’s activities, and more. 

Snowmobiling Adventures Through Snowy Forests

With mountain forests, snowy peaks, and hundreds of miles of backcountry terrain, Klamath County is a snowmobiler’s paradise. 

One of the most popular snowmobiling destinations in the region is Great Meadow Sno-Park, which offers access to more than 165 miles of groomed trails that head through meadows, offer access to Diamond Lake, and afford views of snow-covered forests.

Other snowmobiling hotspots in the area include Lake of the Woods Resort, which sits surrounded by 300 miles of groomed trails that spread out into the surrounding forests; Odell Lake Resort, which offers guided tours and is the only place to rent snowmobiles in Klamath County; Doorknob Warming Hut Snowpark, which sits just south of the Lava Beds National Monument and offers access to more than 250 miles of trails in the surrounding national forests; and the Pelican Butte Snow Trail, a groomed multi-use trail on the western shore of Upper Klamath Lake.