Washington has more than dozen ski resorts for your winter sports pleasure. The Cascade Mountains east of Seattle provide numerous downhill skiing and snowboarding opportunities. They extend from southern British Columbia through Washington, Oregon and into northern California.
Located just west of the Cascade Mountains you will find Seattle, the largest city in the state of Washington. While Seattle has a reputation for being one of the rainiest cities in the USA, its excess precipitation also equates to an abundance of snow. The Cascade Mountain range stretches from Canada to Oregon and boasts …
Local WA Ski Resorts
Whether you’re looking for ski resorts on the western side of the state near Seattle or out east near Spokane, there are some options for everybody. Most of the ski resorts reside closer to Seattle in the western/central part of the state. Although those local to Spokane can venture into northern Idaho for some excellent ski areas.
Guide to Washington’s Ski Resorts
Peeking out over the waters of the North Pacific Ocean and reaching its arm up into the belly of the Salish Sea is the state of Washington. It’s home to a fabulous diversity of natural beauty. From temperate coastal rainforests to high desert to imposing peaks of the Cascade Range, the State of Washington is a place flush with natural diversity.
From high desert on the eastern side of the Cascades to pristine temperate rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula, wilderness captures the soul of those that visit this place. And for skiers and snowboarders, and those that are in search of true alpine adventure, Washington doesn’t disappoint.
Rising steeply from the ground and into the sky is the northern portion of the Cascade Mountain Range. There, the highest peak in mainland United States, Mt. Washington, sits watching over the forests that surround its base.
Mt. Washington is just one of many peaks in the PNW. And with such an abundance of mountains, the state supports a whopping 17 ski areas and numerous backcountry options.
Skiing and Snowboarding in the Evergreen State
Skiers can find themselves enjoying the treasures of every variety of slope experience in Washington. From world class mountain resorts to back country cat and heli skiing, there’s something for everyone in this state.
The Cascades command the topography of central Washington, essentially acting as the backbone of the state. And along each side of the Cascades, peppered across the state, ski resorts are plentiful. Whether you’re centered in Seattle, Wenatchee or northern Washington, skiing is just a drive away.
And of course, after a day tearing up the mountainside, like most states in the west, there are hot springs galore to help sooth your aching legs. While the masses flock to skiing meccas like Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, Washington offers skiers and snowboarders with endless quality and minimal crowding.
From the depths of the Puget Sound to the foothills of the Cascades, one can often see the majesty of the soaring peaks – no matter where you are in the state.
Massive ski resorts like Mt. Baker, 49 degrees North and Crystal Mountain surely deserve recognition as national destinations, and smaller areas like Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass are considered secondary choices only due to the grandiose nature of Washington’s biggest resorts.
Whether it’s a day trip or a weekend exploring the resorts, Washington has it all.
Ski Areas in Washington
Crystal Mountain – One of the closest resorts to Seattle, Crystal Mountain has a shockingly large skiable area of 2,600 acres. It is one of Washington’s premier resorts with almost 60 runs and 10 different lifts. For those in the Seattle area, this is the cream of the crop. But, it’s proximity to Washington’s largest metropolitan area also makes it the most frequented skiing and snowboarding destination.
Summit at Snoqualmie – A collection of four distinct ski areas interconnected with each other, Summit at Snoqualmie is also a quick drive away from Seattle and offers some of Washington’s steepest skiing. SaS has 21 chairs and almost 2,000 acres of skiing. It’s a dynamite choice that never disappoints.
Sahalie Ski Club – A magical getaway ski lodge nestled in the Snoqualmie Pass, Sahalie has around 85 private acres of skiing and a nifty little lift. But staying at Sahalie is special because of the lodge itself. It’s a true alpine oasis, designed to let families enjoy the wonders of the Cascades, by skiing and by immersing themselves in the mountain life.
Steven’s Pass – Yet another resort within a relatively quick drive from Seattle, Steven’s Pass is another bullet-proof choice for a day of skiing on the North Cascades. It’s a sizable resort, has considerable annual snowfall and is a little less popular than both Crystal and Summit, so despite it’s smaller size, it often has less skiers on the slopes.
Meany Lodge – a tiny little mountainside lodge that offers access to around 60 acres of family friendly skiing. Meany is meant as a getaway as much as it is a ski area. Sure you can strap on the skis or board and have some fun, but it’s more about isolating yourself in the mountains for a day or two.
Hurricane Ridge – This might be the coolest resort in Washington simply because it is so unique. The only ski resort on the Olympic Peninsula and one of only two ski areas with a working lift within a US National Park, Hurricane Ridge is a special place. A limited number of runs and challenging to reach (the road to Hurricane Ridge is prone to avalanches), if you have an opportunity to ski this resort, do it.
Leavenworth Ski Hill – Leavenworth is often regarded as Washington’s little Bavaria and this tiny ski area provides those staying in town with a quick and historical experience on Leavenworth’s slopes. But, it’s not exactly a ski resort and is more of a half day experience than a ski adventure.
Mission Ridge – Just south of Wenatchee, a small town in Central Washington, Mission Ridge is a legitimate ski resort with a couple thousand acres of skiable land, almost 40 runs and multiple lifts. On the eastern slopes of the Cascades, Mission Ridge gives skiers a resort style experience with enough separation from Seattle that the crowds are likely thinner.
Badger Mountain – One of Washington’s volunteer run ski areas, Badger Mountain is a small and community minded ski hill. Since 1939, Badger has been powered by community involvement and provides an intimate and non-challenging ski experience.
Echo Valley/Lake Chelan – Lake Chelan is one of Washington’s most beautiful regions. The Echo Valley Ski Area is another of Washington’s volunteer run non-profit ski areas. It’s not exactly the shooting site for the newest K2 movie, but its 70 acres are designed to provide families with a day of fun and stress free mountain time.
Loup Loup Ski Bowl – Okanagon County in Washington’s northern region is remote and pristine. Loup Loup is a small but punch packing ski area. Almost 600 acres of skiing on Washington’s north Cascades is managed by a non-profit and volunteer group. Loup Loup is known for offering decent skiing with little crowding and a small but resort like setting.
Sitzmark – A small and uncommon destination for skiers and snowboarders, Sitzmark is another volunteer run ski hill in the Okanagon valley of northern Washington. It is a local destination more than it is a visitor’s destination.
49 Degrees North Mountain Resort – Perhaps one of Washington’s highest quality ski resorts, 49° North sits comfortably in the northeast corner of the state, below B.C. and next to Idaho. In close proximity to Spokane, it does attract skiers on a normal basis, but it’s a huge resort built to support a significant amount of skiers and snowboarders. It is a resort that can easily support multiple consecutive days of skiing.
Mt. Baker – A destination for both Washington and Canadian skiers, Mt. Baker sits just below the international border between Washington and British Columbia. It provides fantastic north Cascades skiing with steep slopes, diverse terrain and exceptional annual snowfall of more than 630 inches.
Mt. Spokane – For both Washington and Idaho skiers Mt. Spokane is a formidable option for a day on the mountain. 1,500 acres of skiing and good annual snowfall, Mt. Spokane gives skiers and snowboarders a remote yet full-service mountain resort.
Bluewood – Down in the southeast corner of Washington, bordering on the Umatilla National Forest, Bluewood is a small ski area with decently steep slopes and little crowding issues due to its distance from major metro areas. It’s sort of a mountain oasis – decent skiing, mountain isolation and enough runs for a diverse day of action.
White Pass – It’s a medium sized resort, around 1,500 acres, and has quality day lodging with food and beverage. White Pass also has a village lodge for overnight stays just across from the resort itself. And, it has quality skiing. What more can you ask for?
Other Downhill Options in Washington
Aside from the 17 resorts listed above, Washington also has some heli skiing and cat skiing options to traverse the swatch of backcountry terrain that the mountain wonderland state has to offer. The most popular outlets offering these kinds of packages are North Cascade Heli Skiing and Cascade Powder Guides.
The North Cascades are truly one of North America’s best kept secrets and if you have the guts to explore backcountry options, there’s no better place to do it (except perhaps Alaska).
Seattle is a major city, and resorts within driving distance of Seattle definitely experience capacity issues during winter months and holidays but the resorts within driving distance are high quality. Beyond Seattle, Washington has remote and hard-to-reach resorts with extremely good terrain but little crowding.
It’s a place where if you travel to explore its skiing, you might never leave. A true Pacific Northwest mountain haven.