While Seattle can be among the rainiest cities in the USA, its excess precipitation also equates to an abundance of snow. Each winter, there are a handful of great ski resorts within a few hours’ drive of Seattle.
Passing through Washington, the Cascade Mountain range stretches from Canada to Oregon and boasts some of the best slopes in the state. Washington’s stint in the Cascades has terrific terrain for downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Like most resorts, those located near the city tend to be hectic during the weekend. If you prefer space when skiing or snowboarding, head to a resort a bit further from the city or do your best to hit the slopes during the week or at night. No matter what type of wintery experience you are looking for, Washington’s got it.
And to rejuvenate afterward, be sure to stop by one of Washington’s hot springs for a soothing soak. Its natural thermal mineral water will leave you feeling ready for another round at the following resorts.
Here are the closest ski areas to Seattle, WA in order of driving proximity:
Summit at Snoqualmie – 51 miles | 50 min
By far the closest mountain to Seattle is the Summit at Snoqualmie in Snoqualmie Pass, WA. The mountain is located less than an hour east of the city, just off I-90. In total, the mountain boasts 24 lifts, with 62 trails, and 2,280 feet of vertical gain from the base to the summit.
The resort is divided into four major areas which include Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central, and Summit East.
The Alpental area is known for its backcountry terrain. This section of the mountain provides skiers with some of the steepest runs in the entire region and a network of backcountry routes. Summit East boasts over 50 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails, good for Alpine and Nordic, and snowshoeing.
Summit Central is a large black diamond park full of jumps, rails, and boxes. The park is the largest in the area, making it a popular destination for many at the mountain. Summit West offers runs for skiers of every level and is known as the area “where Seattle learns to ski”.
The Summit at Snoqualmie also offers the largest terrain of night skiing in the United States. Across the mountain the night skiing totals over 600 acres, allowing you to enjoy the slopes under the stars.
Stevens Pass Ski Area – 82 miles | 1.5 hours
Named due to its location on the crest of Steven’s Pass, Stevens Pass Ski Area’s base sits at 4,061 feet above sea level and averages 450 inches of snow annually. In total, the area has 1,125 acres of skiable terrain along with 52 major runs and 10 lifts.
The mountain is divided into two distinct sections; front, which is north and east-facing, and back, which is south-facing.
Due to the cool air blowing in from the eastern side of the Cascades, the snow at the pass is known for staying relatively dry, unlike some mountains in western Washington. Stevens Pass also boasts three maintained terrain parks and night skiing.
Six out of the 10 major lifts remain open to provide night skiers with a wide variety of runs. With night operations starting at 4 pm, it’s the perfect way to end a long day of work and escape the city. Be sure to bundle up as the higher elevation of the mountain often means an extra cold but clear night skiing experience.
Besides alpine skiing, Stevens Pass provides access to just under 20 miles of cross-country ski trails. This trail network features groomed and maintained trails, with routes for any skill level.
Crystal Mountain Resort – 82 miles | 1.75 hours
Located in the northeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park, lies Crystal Mountain Ski Resort. Under two hours from Seattle, lies the largest ski area in the entire state. With 2,600 acres of skiing, 3,100 feet of vertical gain, and 85 named runs, Crystal Mountain offers some of the longest and steepest runs in the entire state.
From the summit, on a “bluebird day”, skiers have unobstructed views of Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker, Mount Saint Helens, and sometimes even Mount Hood. Off the backside of the mountain lies an expansive backcountry.
Averaging 486 inches of snowfall annually, skiers will have their fair share of fresh powder at Crystal. Don’t forget to catch a ride up the Mt. Rainier Gondola to warm up as a ride from the base up to the summit. With 35% of the mountain being designated for advanced and expert skiers, there are seemingly countless chutes and bowls to drop into.
During the weekends and on holidays, Crystal offers night skiing which is the perfect way to extend your day and squeeze in a few more runs at the biggest resort in the state.
Mount Baker – 133 miles | 2.5 hours
Located two and half hours to the northeast of Seattle lies Mount Baker Ski Area. The mountain is home to the world’s greatest recorded snowfall in one season with 1,140 inches during the 1988-89 season. On average the mountain receives 688 inches of snowfall per year, making it, unofficially, the highest average of any resort in the world.
With 1,000 acres to explore, this smaller, secluded mountain is full of countless powdery slopes. Besides the immense amount of snowfall, Mount Baker Ski Area is known for its challenging inbound runs throughout the mountain.
The mountain’s backcountry, which leads into the North Cascades National Park, can be easily located from the chairlifts. Located just 10 miles south of the Canadian border, and 52 miles east of Bellingham, this mountain is often much less crowded than those closer to Seattle.
Skiers flock to this small mountain for steep runs, smaller crowds, deep powder, and epic views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan.
Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort – 161 miles | 3 hr
On the east side of the Cascades, and just 3 hours from Seattle, you will find 2,000 acres of skiable territory at Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort. While the mountain receives just 200 inches of annual snowfall, it averages 300 sunny “bluebird days” per year, unlike much of the western side of the state.
With 6 lifts and 36 named runs, this mountain has slopes for every skill level. Mission Ridge likes to say they offer a
“small mountain vibe with big mountain skiing and riding”.
Being located farther from Seattle allows for 2,000 acres of open terrain. A small terrain park, along with night skiing, makes the long drive well worth your time. Rejoice at the lack of crowds and easily accessible backcountry. Located just 12 miles outside the city of Wenatchee, this mountain is popular amongst those in central Washington.
White Pass Ski Area – 146 miles | 3 hours
Located on the southeast side of Mount Rainier National Park, just off Highway 12, lies the White Pass Ski Area. Averaging 350 inches of snowfall, this mountain offers skiers breathtaking views of Mount Rainier. White Pass offers over 1,400 acres of skiable territory, with 45 runs along 2,000 feet of vertical gain.
Besides the Alpine runs, White Pass has a Nordic Center that provides access to groomed and double-tracked cross-country ski trails located within the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot National Forests.
Trails for every skill level are accessible for cross-country skiing, skating cross-country, and snowshoeing. In total, the mountain maintains 11 miles of designated cross-country trails.
Being a farther drive from Seattle helps ensure the mountain won’t be as crowded compared to some located just outside the city. Rejoice in the shorter lines, views of Mount Rainier, and runs for all skill levels at White Pass Ski Area.
The ski resorts in the great state of Washington are some of the best in the country! Check out the ski resorts near Spokane, for a look at those on the western half part of the state.
From the abundant snowfall of Mount Baker to the expansive runs on Crystal Mountain, skiing in the Cascade Mountain range is unlike anything else in the country. Whether you prefer deep powder, backcountry, alpine, night riding, or hitting up a terrain park, slopes near Seattle, Washington have got you covered.
Remember that when it’s raining in Seattle, there’s a good chance that it’s snowing up in the mountains!