Washington ski season has officially arrived. With fresh snow falling high in the Cascades, we can’t wait to leave the city behind us and head east into the mountains. In terms of mountain access, Seattleites are spoiled. Compared to other western urban centers like Denver, our mountain commute times are fairly short, and options within an hour’s drive are plentiful. What we lack in altitude and Colorado “champagne powder,” we make up for in the quantity of snowfall and quality of the terrain. While Washington stands out as a world-class backcountry destination, many of our Washington Ski Resorts can go toe-to-toe with the best in the Western United States. If you’re wondering where to ski this winter, continue reading below for The Gearhouse Washington Ski Resort Guide.
Largest Washington Ski Resort: Crystal Mountain
Crystal Mountain sits at the foot of Mount Rainier and holds the title of the largest Washington ski resort. With 2,600 acres of terrain, high-speed lifts, and the Mt. Rainier Gondola, Crystal Mountain Resort is the closest thing Washington has to the mammoth resorts in Colorado, Utah, and elsewhere. Despite the abundance of high-quality, skiable terrain, Crystal maintains a small mountain community charm. As we mentioned in our Washington Ski Pass Guide, Crystal honors 4-7 days on the Ikon Pass (depending on pass tier) and has its own season pass, which has become increasingly pricey in recent years. Still, with 2,600 acres of terrain with over 2,400 vertical and 348 annual inches of snowfall, it’s hard to pass up a day skiing at Crystal. Crystal Mountain offers a mix of difficulty with 35% advanced/ expert, 54% intermediate, and 11% beginner terrain. Hopping off the gondola and coming face to face with Mount Rainier is one of the best feelings you can have during a winter in Washington.
Closest Washington Ski Resort to Seattle: Summit at Snoqualmie
Driving about an hour east on I-90 will take you to the base of Summit at Snoqualmie, where Washington skiers can access four ski areas: Summit East, Summit Central, Summit West, and the famed Alpental ski area. As the closest Washington Ski Resort to Seattle, Snoqualmie can experience crowds on the weekend, but the four separate areas help control the masses. In total, Summit at Snoqualmie boasts nearly 2,000 skiable acres, 2,280 vertical feet, and 25 lifts. Across its four unique ski areas, Summit at Snoqualmie offers a mix of 14% beginner, 33% intermediate, 42% advanced, and 11% expert terrain. Snoqualmie also offers the most night skiing in the US, making it an ideal after-work getaway. Despite its proximity to the city, Summit at Snoqualmie receives 426 inches of annual snowfall. Like Crystal, Snoqualmie offers Ikon pass holders 4-7 days of skiing, depending on the pass tier. Summit at Snoqualmie also offers various season passes exclusive to their mountain.
Steven’s Pass is approximately 80 miles northeast of the city and is one of the region’s most popular ski areas. Steven’s Pass has 1,125 acres of skiable terrain, 13 lifts, 52 trails, 1,784 feet of vertical terrain, and a whopping 460 inches of annual snowfall. Steven’s offers a mix of terrain with 11% beginner, 54% intermediate, and 33% advanced terrain. As a favorite Washington Ski resort amongst Seattleites, traffic and parking issues have arisen in the last year that the resort is working to solve. Still, Steven’s offers some of the best terrain in the Cascades, and it’s hard to beat a proper powder day there. Epic Pass holders will have season-long access to Steven’s Pass.
The trip to Mt. Baker takes between 2 and a half and 3 hours but is well worth it. The Mt. Baker Ski area receives the most snowfall out of all the Washington Ski Resorts, and the area is known for superb backcountry and side-country access. The Mt. Baker Ski Area has a total ski area of 1,000 acres, 1,500 ft. of vertical terrain, and an almost ungodly 666 inches of annual snowfall. What Mt. Baker lacks in total terrain, it makes up for in quality. Mt. Baker has its own season pass system, but spaces are limited, and they fill up fast. Sign up for the MT. Baker email list to stay in the loop.
Like Crystal, White Pass offers stunning views of Mount Rainier. The White Pass Ski Area is located approximately 3 hours from Seattle. White Pass offers 1,4012 acres of skiable terrain with 2,000 feet of vertical terrain and 6 lifts. White Pass has a mix of 30% beginner, 50% intermediate, and 20% advanced terrain. White Pass has its own pass system, which is fairly affordable compared to other mountains.
Mission Ridge is a humble Washington Ski Resort located just outside of Leavenworth. With 2,000 acres of skiable area, 2,250 feet of vertical terrain, and receives 200 inches of annual snowfall. Mission Ridge has 6 lifts and 36 trails. Like White Pass, Mission Ridge has their own pass system with affordable season passes and daily lift tickets.
Make the most of this ski season with affordable ski rentals from Gearhouse. Join Gearhouse and have access to our entire inventory of gear, including ski and snowboard rentals, backcountry gear, cross-country equipment, and more.