Everyone knows Washington gets a little dark and dreary in the winter, but don't be fooled into thinking that means you have to sit on your couch and watch Netflix for 5 months. All the rain down at sea level is snow just a few minutes into the mountains. Washington is full of winter activities that are worth getting excited about. We've compiled a short list to help you keep exploring the outdoors and making memories with friends and family all year round.
Please follow along and feel free to ask questions or make suggestions that might help others Explore WA.
1. Ski and Snowboard Resorts
Mt Baker up north gets more snow most years than any where else in the country and has still somehow kept is "locals" resort feeling. Stevens Pass continues to improve in high speed lifts and a massive park for those who like to jump and slide their way down the hill. Crystal, Snoqualmie, Mission Ridge, Alpental, Hurricane Ridge, Mt Spokane, Bluewood... the list goes on and on. Each ski resort has its own feel, unique terrain, and an experience all its own. So whether you're learning or just bored of your local mountain, get out there and roam a little. You might find another special winter tradition in visiting a new resort.
full article on each resort (coming soon)
There is no reason to let a little snow stop your hiking habits. In fact many of the trails you enjoy during the summer months become marked snowshoe trails. If you're new to this it'd be a good idea to study up on being prepared for winter weather conditions and other cold related dangers first but a good pair of snowshoes is a quick way to enjoy all the snow in the mountains. Mt Baker's Artist Point is maybe one of the most stunning areas to get started at. It's popular enough you don't need to be intimidated about being all alone and the road is maintained all the way up to the Mt Baker Ski Resort so you can have stunning views not far from the car. There are plenty more amazing areas to snowshoe so stay tuned on our Facebook Page for specific locations throughout the year.
Snoqualmie Pass and Leavenworth both have sledding hills with lifts that tow you back to the top. So if you're sick of walking up and down the hill be sure to check these out. You'll likely find some crowds and these places aren't free so be sure to check their websites for more info. (links below)
Washington Sno Parks also maintain a few sledding hills around the state that have parking lots, restroom facilities, groomed lanes, and walking paths to help everyone have fun safely. Lake Wenatchee is our favorite SnoPark and also has miles of cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails.
There are also sure to be local hills in your area but you might have to ask around to find those gems. Our Facebook Group might be a good place to ask.
4. Cross Country Skiing
Glacier views, lake side trails, backwood hills, groomed runs you'll find it all here in Washington. There are over 40 WA SnoParks specifically designated for non-motorized activities and these typically have some facilities and well marked and maintained trails.
If you're new to the sport or would like to try it out for the first time you can visit one of a few Nordic Centers around the state that provide rental equipment, groomed trails, and lessons/events to help you test it out.
If you already know what you're doing then you might be ready to start exploring some of the more remote areas of WA. WTA has a great article and details on some of these areas so be sure to check the links below.
5. Snowy Mountain Towns
There are a few town in WA that make you feel like you're driving around in a snow globe they're full of so much charm and in a world of their own.
Leavenworth is one of these places worth visiting even if you're not into all the outdoor activites and you just want to fill up on all the holiday charm. The entire town is Bavarian themed, covered in lights, and full of music, snow, shops, local food, and small town magic.
Winthrop is another favorite winter hub tucked away in the easter side of the Cascades you'll find access to just about every winter activity you can think of along with another charm filled winter town to help you stay fed and warm.
Below are some links that will help you get started exploring these amazing winter towns.
You might be surprised to see this on the list but actually WA has lots of little surf spots and a lot of them are best in the winter months. WA doesn't put the limelight on our surfing and actually the locals like it that way.
Don't let that discourage you though, if you really want to surf WA we put some details together to help get you pointed in the right direction.
7. Snowmobile Trails
If you've read this far you may remember me telling you that we hav over 40 SnoParks here in WA... well we have way more actually. 40 are more non-motorized activities, we have 120 parks in all. Can you guess what the other 80 are for? Most of the SnoParks for Snowmobiles are located the entire length of the Cascade Mountain Range but you'll also find some in the NE and SE corners of the state so good luck visiting them all. Below is a link to a map that can help you explore a specific area you might be interested in.
Of course there are more things to do and places to see. If you have a favorite that isn't on our site yet feel free to reach out to us and let us know. Our hope is to encourage friends and families to get outside, make plans, go somewhere new and make memories in Washington!
- Happy Exploring