Oregon’s Timberline Lodge has added a perk on to their lift tickets. When conditions permit, the resort runs a snowcat loaded with skiers and snowboarders to the Palmer Snowfield. Best of all, the snowcat trips are free with a lift ticket or season pass.

The Palmer Snowfield is usually accessed in summer only via the Palmer Express lift. But severe winter storms frequently impair lift components and shroud the towers in rime, precluding operation. The Palmer Snowcat provides a way for skiers and snowboarders to explore the alpine zone in winter when conditions allow.

The Palmer Snowcat runs on the Palmer Snowfield weekends and holidays when blue sky days yield big, broad views of Mt. Hood. The snowcat makes laps up the Palmer Lift area between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

When the Palmer Snowcat operates, the top elevation for skiers extends to 8,540 feet. The added vertical on the Palmer Snowfield includes a groomed swath and off piste terrain for advanced skiers and riders. From that elevation, skiers can drop almost 3,700 feet to the base of the Jeff Flood chairlift.

To catch the snowcat, skiers and snowboarders must ride to the top of the Magic Mile lift and drop east toward the Silcox Hut where a ski host organizes the rides. During the ride, a ski patroller provides updates on slope conditions, safety, and weather.

Conditions on the Palmer Snowfield can mutate from blue skies to storms very fast. Mt. Hood alpine storms frequently bring on frigid temperatures with winds up to 100 mph and no visibility.

For information on the Palmer Snowcat, look here. To check the operational status of the Palmer Snowcat, look here.