While Washington's winter reputation is one of doom and gloom it remains a favorite season for many of us outdoor lovers across the state and the reason is simple. Add a little elevation and all that rain turns our mountains into snow covered playgrounds providing endless skiing and snowboarding options in every region of our state! In fact if you're willing to hike and earn your turns there's even year round skiing options (more on that in another article). Most of us prefer to take a lift to the top so lets take a look at our state's ski resorts. (in no particular order)
1. Mt. Baker Ski Resort
About an hour northeast of Bellingham in Northern Washington, Mt. Baker Ski Area borders Canada and the North Cascades National Park. You'll find 1,000 acres of skiable terrain tucked between the peaks of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. With an average of 600 inches of snow a season, the Mt. Baker Ski Area receives the most snowfall out of any ski resort in Washington! Which means powder days are more common than not. You'll find a labyrinth of groomed runs and no shortage of tree lines, backcountry, and a large terrain park. Given that there is almost 150 days in the average ski season here, many consider Mt. Baker to be the best ski resort on this side of the country!
2. Summit at Snoqualmie / Alpental / Hidden Valley Ski Area
3 separate resorts all located at the top of Snoqualmie Pass and all worth a closer look. This ski area is the closest to Seattle and as you'd expect gets a lot of visitors each year. Featuring more than 100 designated runs and just under 2,000 skiable acres to explore at the Summit at Snoqualmie resort alone you'll find access to all sorts of terrain designed for all skill levels of riders. With a well maintained and one of the most creative parks around, if it's rails, kickers, and features you're after then look no further. The resorts also has over 50 kilometers of groomed Nordic ski trails leading out from the resort. You'll also find tubing hills, lodges to get warm in, and plenty of snowshoeing and ski touring potential in the area making this one WA's most popular winter snow sport hot spots.
3. Crystal Mountain Resort
Resting in the shadow of Mount Rainier National Park, Crystal Mountain Resort serves up over 2,600 skiable acres to shred, 10 chairlifts, and even an eight-passenger gondola. Catch a blue bird sunny day and you'll have yourself one of the best views of Rainier around. Located under two hours from both Seattle and Bellevue you can imagine the resort gets plenty of visitors. Expect some chairlift lines on the weekends, but on the mountain it's self Crystal Mountain Resort boasts more skiable acres than any other resort in the state so you'll have plenty of snow to yourself.
4. Stevens Pass Resort
Spanning three sides of two different mountains, Stevens Pass is the absolute pinnacle of Washington skiing. Go and you'll enjoy more than 1,200 acres covered in 10 high-speed chairlifts. The resort get an average of 450 inches of snowfall each winter. Even for non-skiers and snowboarders the action viewable from the lodge, a variety of dining options, and plenty of fireplaces to go around there's plenty to from the lodge. But wait there's more... throw in the fact that night skiing happens nearly every day of the week during the peak winter months, and it's easy to see why Stevens Pass is one of the most popular ski spots in all of Washington.
5. White Pass Ski Area
Located about 25 miles from the very peak of Mount Rainier, White Pass Ski Area draws people from the Yakima area which is only 50 miles away. White Pass has more than 1,500 acres of accessible terrain, serviced by 6 chairlifts and 2 rope-tows. Offering a wide variety of routes for every level of skier with out the crowds, many consider White Pass a gem of Washington skiing.
6. Mission Ridge Ski & Snowboard Resort
Located on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountain range you'll be pleasantly surprised to find a small mountain vibe with big mountain terrain. Not only do they offer over 2,000 acres to explore while skiing or snowboarding, but rarely will there be a line on any of their 4 chairlifts. Night skiing is offered every Saturday throughout the winter and the Hampton Lodge at the mountain's base serves up some of the best poutine around. (French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It's a Canadian thing, but we love it too)
7. Hurricane Ridge Ski Area
The only ski area lift in the Olympic Penninsela you'll find a ski resort with fewer lifts, family orriented, and much cheaper lift tickets. There is only 3 "lifts" at the park and none of them are chair lifts. Using rope tows and one poma lift you'll find access to some groomed beginner runs but also access to some pretty big mountain style terrain, bowls with deep powder, and plenty of room to roam if you're into earning your turns and want to hike into some untouched areas.
If skiing isn't your thing you'll there is also onsite groomed tubing/sledding hills.
8. Leavenworth Ski Hill
Located in another WA winter destination worth checking out, the Bulgarian themed town of Leavenworth, the Ski Hill up the road as access to groomed cross country trails, snowshoeing, a Nordic Jumping Facility, sledding hills, and a couple rope toes to get people up the hill. They've been operating here since 1928. A smaller "resort" for sure, but a good option for a family with little mini-shredders looking to learn and located with enough neighboring places to spend the night or restaurants to warm up after a day in the snow makes this a great spot for a relaxing day in the snow.
9. Mt Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park
Mount Spokane boasts a wide array of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of every level. Onsite you'll find a tubing hill, Snoplay Daycare, and 3 terrain parks so the entire family will be having fun. Boasting over 31 runs, 6 lifts, and a new 279 acres of recently opened terrain and night skiing you'll be sure to enjoy this resort as one of the states best places to ski.
10. 49' North Mountain Resort
You'll find 82 seperate runs, 7 lifts, 10 miles of cross country trails, 2,325 acres of patrolled area and over 300" of annual snowfall! That makes this a top contender for not only a best ski resort of the east side of the state, but is a favorite of many out of all our states resorts.
11. Loup Loup Ski Bowl
For those of you that prefer a slower pace, local feel, and no lift lines Loup Loup might be just your thing. The mountain has 10 groomed runs on Little Buck Mountain, 1 quad chair lift, a poma lift, a beginner rope tow, and a terrain park. You might actually appreciate the dry Okanogan powder over some of the typically wet snow of the southern cascades. Be sure to check their website for hours/days of operation and snow conditions.
12. Echo Valley Ski Resort
Echo Valley is a Ski and Tubing non-profit that has been serving the Lake Chelan area for over 60 years now. With 1 poma lift and a few rope tows you'll find about 6 or so runs along side a tubing hill and about 70 acres of night skiing. This ski hill likely won't be featured in any ski/snowboard movies but is a great place to teach the little ones how to ski and to scratch that ski itch for the locals wanting some quick easy turns. Limited operating hours so be sure to check their website ahead of time.