Snowy Escapes

Washington winters are marked by rainy days and thriving evergreen trees, but snowfall can be rare in our area. If you’re craving fresh powder and the humbling experience of standing at the base of a regal mountain, check out these Pacific Northwest resorts.


ski lift

© Eli Duke, Creative Commons

Schweitzer Mountain Resort

All mountains are picturesque, but Schweitzer Mountain Resort feels like paradise in the Idaho Panhandle, about 85 miles from Spokane. Founded in 1963, it offers a variety of runs based on level of expertise, with the longest being 2 miles — Little Blue Ridge Run. The 9,000-square-foot summit Sky House lodge is the best place to take in the views, and warm up with Evans Brother Coffee Roasters or beer from MickDuff’s Brewing Company. Have a hot pastrami sandwich or a chicken pot pie at the Red Hawk Café, and then hit the slopes again.

Ski Season Dec. 1 to early April, conditions permitting


Whistler Resort

The Whistler Resort Association in British Columbia is a Northwest staple, with an extensive list of activities for those who want to see the brilliance of fresh powder on a mountaintop, but aren’t interested in skiing or snowboarding. Take a ride on the Peak 2 Peak gondola with 360-degree views, or go dog sledding through the old-growth forest of the Callaghan Valley. If you’re on the more adventurous side, spend the day touring ice caves and hot springs via helicopter. The town has plenty to offer for everyone.

Ski Season Nov. 23 to late April or May


Crystal Mountain

Located about two hours from Bellevue in rural Enumclaw, Crystal Mountain is the largest ski resort in Washington, with 2,600 acres and more than 50 runs. More than $30 million was invested in the last 10 years to make the mountain a highly sought-after destination. Gondola rides are available year-round, but seeing the terrain as a snowy expanse is an unmatched experience. The Summit House restaurant is the perfect place to wind down after hitting the slopes. Sign up for a snowshoe tour, or sip a brew while listening to live music.

Ski Season End of November to mid-April


Mount Baker Ski Area

Just east of the quintessential college town of Bellingham is Mount Baker. Small class sizes make Mount Baker an ideal place to learn how to ski or snowboard. And there are several activities that will keep you coming back for more snow-filled fun, including the November Film Fest and a Santa photo-op in December.

Ski Season Late November to the end of April


Mount Hood

Mount Hood offers panoramic views of Oregon, and staff members claim it “delivers a big mountain experience” without the hassle of traveling far. The resort is about 90 minutes from Portland and offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the Northwest with runs that suit a range of skill levels. For more challenging terrain, check out Heather Canyon, with steep pitches of glorious snow.

Ski Season Mid-November to mid-April, weather permitting

is an assistant editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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