In the mountainous state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest, you are never far from the slopes. Thanks to their altitude, Washington’s ski resorts have great-quality snow and challenging trails to rival those found in California and Colorado. There are resorts near the major cities of Seattle and Tacoma, and with stunning national parks such as the North Cascades, Olympic National Park and Mount Ranier you are almost always skiing against an Alpine backdrop of rugged peaks.
Nestled between Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, the Mt. Baker Ski Area gets the highest snowfall out of all the resorts in Washington. The trails are diverse enough to accommodate all levels of expertise, with comfortable green runs for beginners and off-trail steep terrain for advanced skiers. Around a one-hour drive into the North Cascades National Park from Bellingham, Mt. Baker Ski Area is easily accessible with a car rental. It also has a great music festival program, Music on the Mountain, that runs throughout the ski season.
Reachable in 1 hour from Seattle, Crystal Mountain Resort is an awesome destination for advanced skiers with 85 runs and 3,100 feet of vertical drop. The scenery is magnificent and on a clear day, you get a breathtaking view of Mount Ranier. The trails range from easy cruising runs to steep chutes and double black slopes, with the longest being a huge 2.5-mile run.
Another huge ski area with an impressive array of slopes, Mission Ridge is more spread out and less packed than other Washington resorts. It has a small-mountain vibe with an evenly spread range of trails to satisfy every ability level. The summit is a massive 6,820 feet, so expect plenty of fresh powder. The scenery is also impressive, set in a basin on the eastern side of the Cascades, just 12 miles from Wenatchee.
Stevens Pass Ski Resort offers some of the best skiing in the Cascade Mountains. The ski area is spread over the slopes of Big Chief Mountain and Cowboy Mountain, making an impressive 1,125 acres of skiable terrain. The trails’ difficulty levels are split among those for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers, and they have a great night skiing program on most evenings. The snow is deep with regular winter storms replenishing the slopes and the terrain park is well-stocked with ramps, jibs, rails and half-pipes for maximum freestyle fun.
Down in the Blue Mountains, this fantastic little resort may not have the most runs, but consistently good snow quality and a more laidback vibe make it a highly enjoyable ski destination. It has an even split among beginner, intermediate and advanced trails, providing everyone with ample challenges. Its high altitude ensures snow throughout the season and lift tickets are very affordable.
Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is on the dry side of the mountain and as such receives just the right amount of light, fluffy snow for excellent ski conditions. Suitable for all levels, there are a large number of intermediate runs for those graduating from beginner classes, while the black diamond slopes are lengthy and challenging. The 4 terrain parks are immensely popular and are built with a wide variety of organic features to practice your skills on. The family-friendly tubing hill is especially geared towards children and you can night-ski most evenings until 9 pm. Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is only a short 25-mile drive from Spokane.
You might call this small ski area sitting inside Olympic National Park a hidden gem. Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area is, in fact, only one of three serviced ski areas that sit inside national parks in the US, and at 5,242 feet, you are guaranteed to get fresh snow here. In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, there are also areas for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, as well as tubing. You will find 2 rope tows, one lift and a tubing park, and the ski area is open from mid-December through March. Keep in mind that winter storms might close or delay the opening of the Hurricane Ridge Road.