The Mount Bachelor Ski Area was founded by former 10th Mountain Division Elite Force ski trooper Bill Healy (1925–1993) on December 19, 1958, with $75,000 and a one-year lease from the U.S. Forest Service for the land. The four other major stockholders were Felix Marcoulier (1917–2004), Dr. Bradford Pease (1912–2004), Oscar Murray (c. 1917–present), and Phil Gould. The founders raised $100,000 from local investors and made many important management decisions that would shape the path of Mount Bachelor and Central Oregon for decades to come.
The ski area opened as Bachelor Butte in October 1958 with a rope tow and a 3,100-foot (940 m) platter lift rising 1,000 ft (305 m) and a lift ticket was three dollars. The geographical name changed to Mount Bachelor in 1983 after the Bend Chamber of Commerce persuaded state and federal officials to adopt the more descriptive term "mountain." Well-known broadcaster and avid skier Lowell Thomas visited the young ski area in 1961, flying over from Sun Valley with J. R. Simplot. The first chair lift was Black chair in 1961, shortly followed by the red chair lift in 1964. In 1967 and 1970 the yellow and blue chair lifts were added, and in 1973 the green and orange chair lifts were added. The following lifts were added afterwards and the names continue to this day. These lifts include outback in 1976, rainbow in 1980, and sunrise in 1982. The first area of the mountain developed for skiing was the northeastern side. The northwestern side was not lift-served in 1973, but those who ventured for the "Outback Trail Tour" paid a dollar in advance and got a return ride by a sno-cat to the lodge. A new trail was finished in 1975, and the Outback double chairlift was installed at a cost of $700,000. It was replaced by the $3 million high-speed quad (Outback Express) in the summer of 1987; with a capacity of 2,800 per hour. The lengthy Northwest Express chairlift was added in the summer of 1996, a high-speed quad with 2,365-foot (721 m) vertical. This lift further expanded the terrain to the west and increased the resort's overall vertical, lowering the minimum lift-served elevation to 5,700 feet (1,737 m). In 1976 Mount Bachelor had a severe drought and was only open January 2 through February 14, and February 26 through April 30. There was a loss of an estimated $4 million and took 4 years to recover. Following the drought the Nordic initiative began and the main lodge expanded.
The first summit chairlift was installed in the summer of 1983, a high-speed detachable triple. At the time, it was just the second detachable chairlift installed in the world. It was upgraded to a quad in 1997. Original plans for a summit lodge and an accompanying service road were abandoned in 1982 to attain approval from the forest service.
Due to its challenging terrain parks and excellent snow conditions, Mount Bachelor is the official home training resort of many professional and Winter Olympic athletes, and hosts several professional USSA competitions each year.