Mount Hood Meadows had a busy off-season in making the resort a better place to visit during the 2008-09 winter.

Among the improvements you can find at one of Portland’s favorite backyard playgrounds are:

Nearly 200 acres of off-piste advanced terrain will become accessible this season. Some 150 acres to the skiers’ left of the Hood River Express lift will open up gladed runs, steep chutes and cliffs, and a 20-acre area located skiers’ right of the bottom of Hood River Express lift featuring similar terrain also will be opened for experts only.

There's a new medical clinic and patrol headquarters in the base area. The building will double the space of the current medical clinic and supply additional space for the growing ski patrol department.

The resort is continuing its slope lighting project, replacing fixtures with brighter, more energy efficient lamps, and increasing the lighting on the South Lodge Deck.

There are three new Prinoth 350 snow cats all with terrain master tillers and blades to replace older cats. Also in the realm of terrain modification, Meadows acquired a 105mm howitzer to enhance avalanche control work, particularly in Heather and Clark canyons.

The rope tow in its Fun Zone kids’ and beginners’ area has been replaced with a WonderCarpet conveyer. The 280-foot-long track will be fully enclosed and a far more comfortable uphill conveyance, providing a less intimidating ride, especially for children.