Winter is coming to the Pacific Northwest, and it’s not getting much brighter outside in the Seattle area any time soon.

But the silver lining of the season sprawls across the region, with slopes for skiers, snowboarders and every kind of winter-sport enthusiast spread from northern Oregon to British Columbia, with plenty of lifts in between. Hop in the car this winter and sample the excellent ski options reachable from Seattle on a weekend trip.

Not sure where to even begin? Check out this breakdown of ski areas within a five-hour drive of Seattle to find out the ins and outs of the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

Note that lift tickets often fluctuate in price, so be sure to check listings before you go.

Crystal Mountain ResortGrouse MountainMission Ridge Ski & Board ResortMount Baker Ski Area | Mount Hood MeadowsStevens PassThe Summit at Snoqualmie / AlpentalTimberline Ski AreaWhistler BlackcombWhite Pass Ski Area

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Crystal Mountain is Washington’s biggest ski area, the closest thing to a true resort in the state, where you can ogle Mount Rainier up close. (Jeff Wolff / Crystal Mountain)
Crystal Mountain is Washington’s biggest ski area, the closest thing to a true resort in the state, where you can ogle Mount Rainier up close. (Jeff Wolff / Crystal Mountain)

Crystal Mountain Resort

33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd., Crystal Mountain; 360-663-3050; crystalmountainresort.com/

What it’s known for: Classic slopes and Rainier views

Washington’s biggest ski area is the closest thing to a true resort in the state, a spot where you can ogle Mount Rainier up close and personal, enjoy après-ski on an outdoor patio, tie one on at the Snorting Elk Cellar and then stay overnight so you can do it all again tomorrow. With its highest point cresting 7,000 feet, Crystal has extensive above-tree-line terrain, another rarity among Cascade ski areas, and wins hands down for sheer variety. As a dead-end road rather than a mountain pass, the drive is less prone to avalanche closures than Snoqualmie or Stevens, but the upper mountain also suffers from wind holds. With all the bells and whistles, Crystal is priced accordingly.

  • Distance from Seattle: 85 miles (approximately 2 hours)
  • Open for season: Yes
  • Estimated closing date: April 4, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $65-101 for adult daily; $16-46 children ages 5-12; $57-88 ages 13-22; $16-$46 for seniors
  • Vertical rise: 2,612 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Weekend/holiday night skiing, scenic gondola rides, snowshoe trails, rental and gear shop, ski school, two on-mountain restaurants, day lodge (cafeteria, espresso stand, two bar/restaurants), three on-site hotels, RV lot
  • Accessibility: Crystal Mountain Road is a two-lane road with curves and some exposure. Chains generally not required but should be carried just in case. Resort runs free shuttle trailers from parking lots to base area.
  • Deals/special pricing: Lift tickets are priced dynamically, so buy in advance online to save. There are five-day packs available for $377 ($75/day), and Crystal is a member of the Ikon Pass program (a season pass good at resorts worldwide), with passes starting at $799. Seniors older than 80 ski free
  • Challenge level: A lot of everything for everybody.

Grouse Mountain offers the most tourist-friendly attractions — and a stunning view of the city — for those looking for slopes around Vancouver. (Courtesy Grouse Mountain)
Grouse Mountain offers the most tourist-friendly attractions — and a stunning view of the city — for those looking for slopes around Vancouver. (Courtesy Grouse Mountain)

Grouse Mountain

6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, British Columbia; 604-980-9311; grousemountain.com/

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What it’s known for: Tourist-friendly Vancouver escape

The North Shore Mountains rise so steeply from the edge of Vancouver that shredders at the three local ski areas — Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour — feel like they are carving turns on top of the metropolis below. After a day of Vancouver sightseeing, head up for night skiing to take in the glittering view of the skyline. Grouse Mountain offers the most tourist-friendly attractions, from a mountaintop skating pond to dedicated snowshoe trails and a first-of-its-kind glass viewing pod, housed inside a wind turbine with 360-degree views from the Gulf Islands to the Coast Range. It’s also supremely easy to reach from downtown Vancouver without a car.

  • Distance from Seattle: 150 miles (approximately 3 hours, border crossing can vary)
  • Open for season: Yes
  • Estimated closing date: May 5, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $72 for adult daily; $27 children ages 5-12; $52 ages 13-18; $52 for seniors
  • Vertical rise: 1,260 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Rental and gear shop, ski school, night skiing, snowshoeing, sledding hill, zip line, scenic gondola, skating pond, viewing pod inside wind turbine, light walk, two restaurants, espresso bar
  • Accessibility: Must have proper ID to cross U.S.-Canada border (U.S. passport, NEXUS card, Washington Enhanced Driver’s License). A 15-minute drive north of downtown Vancouver, all on-site parking is paid. Frequent bus service from North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay, accessible from downtown Vancouver by SeaBus.
  • Deals/special pricing: Three-day passes range from $69 for children to $175 for adults.
  • Challenge level: Intermediate to advanced — only one notable beginner run.
  • Adaptive program: Yes, through Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports.

Mission Ridge isn’t the blockbuster of the local ski and snowboarding scenes, but the slopes are no slouches. (Shane Wilder)
Mission Ridge isn’t the blockbuster of the local ski and snowboarding scenes, but the slopes are no slouches. (Shane Wilder)

Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort

7500 Mission Ridge Road, Wenatchee; 509-663-3200; missionridge.com/

What it’s known for: Great powder, short lines

Why schlep east of the crest? For the allure of drier, lighter snow and 300 days of sunshine per year — just two of the perks for skiers in the Eastern Cascades — try Mission Ridge. Perched high above the Wenatchee Valley, on clear days with no valley fog, you can ski with a view of the bone-dry desert below — a surreal visual in sharp contrast to the green canopy of the Western Cascades. With a smaller nearby population, lift lines tend to be shorter, though the modest ski area has just one high-speed lift. Mission Ridge is also the only hill where you can demo Washington-made Lithic skis, handcrafted in nearby Peshastin.

  • Distance from Seattle: 161 miles (approximately 3 hours)
  • Open for season: Yes
  • Estimated closing date: April 26, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $75 for adult daily; $10 children up to age 9; $55 children ages 10-17; $65 for ages 18-24; $35 ages 70 and up
  • Vertical rise: 2,250 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Night skiing Thursday through Saturday through the end of February, snowshoe trails, rental and gear shop, one on-mountain restaurant, day lodge (cafeteria, espresso bar, pub)
  • Accessibility: From Seattle, travelers must cross at least one mountain pass. Check WSDOT before you go. Free SkiLink bus service from downtown Wenatchee to the resort runs seven roundtrips on weekends and holidays through mid-April, except Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
  • Deals/special pricing: Lift tickets are priced dynamically so buy in advance online to save, season passes run $819 for adults, holders of Summit at Snoqualmie Unlimited Pass ski free on non-holiday weekdays, member of Indy Pass ($219 for two days at each of 44 independent resorts) and Powder Alliance (purchase a season pass and get three days at 18 other resorts)
  • Challenge level: Limited beginner terrain, the resort is great for intermediate skiers to push themselves, with abundant off-piste terrain.
  • Adaptive program: No.

Raven Hut, located at “mid-mountain” of the Mount Baker Ski Area, is a great place for skiers and snowboarders to kick off their boots and relax. (Courtesy of Mount Baker Ski Area)
Raven Hut, located at “mid-mountain” of the Mount Baker Ski Area, is a great place for skiers and snowboarders to kick off their boots and relax. (Courtesy of Mount Baker Ski Area)

Mount Baker Ski Area

Mt. Baker Highway, Deming; 360-734-6771; mtbaker.us/

What it’s known for: Snow, snow and more snow

It snows here. A lot. Mount Baker Ski Area still hangs its hat on the world-record-breaking 1998-1999 season, when it snowed 1,140 inches. Modest elevation can affect snow levels, so watch the weather closely before making this long day trip from Seattle. Overnight in nearby Glacier for a weekend getaway. If you nail the forecast, bring your fattest skis and your brightest goggles — sunny days are a rarity here in the North Cascades. Famous for its ski-at-your-own-risk “extreme danger” zones and a natural half-pipe that hosts the annual Legendary Banked Slalom (Feb. 7-9, 2020), no-frills Mount Baker still feels like a locals’ secret in an era of ski-industry consolidation.

  • Distance from Seattle: 133 miles (approximately 2.75 hours)
  • Open for season: As of Dec. 13, projected opening day is Sunday, Dec. 15
  • Estimated closing date: April 19, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $57 midweek adult, $63 weekend and holiday adult (ages 16 to 59);  $28 children ages 7 to 10; $38-40 children ages 11-15; $39-54 for seniors
  • Vertical rise: 1,500 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Rental and gear shop, ski school, three day lodges (Heather Meadows weekends only), snowshoeing to Artist Point, RV lot
  • Accessibility: State Route 542 (Mount Baker Highway) is a narrow, winding, two-lane road with exposed sections; it dead ends at the ski area. Baker Bus runs one round trip per day from Bellingham via Glacier for $10-20, cash only.
  • Deals/special pricing: Free for ages 6 and under, fifth-graders ride free with enrollment, adult season passes start at $773
  • Challenge level: Affordable learning area for beginners, not many groomed intermediate runs, lots of ungroomed expert and extreme terrain.
  • Adaptive program: Yes, through Disabled Sports USA.

With 2,150 skiable acres, there is room to roam at Mount Hood, which is about a four-hour drive from Seattle. (Courtesy of Timberline Marketing)
With 2,150 skiable acres, there is room to roam at Mount Hood, which is about a four-hour drive from Seattle. (Courtesy of Timberline Marketing)

Mount Hood Meadows

14040 Oregon State Route 35, Mount Hood, Oregon; 503-337-2222; skihood.com/

What it’s known for: Family-friendly amenities, room to roam

The largest and most sprawling resort on the flanks of Mount Hood, Meadows may offer the most family-friendly amenities — daycare for children as young as six weeks old is nearly unheard of at ski resorts. With 2,150 skiable acres, there is room to roam, but even with six high-speed quads, lift lines can back up to half an hour on busy weekends.

  • Distance from Seattle: 232 miles (approximately 4 hours)
  • Open for season: Yes
  • Estimated closing date: May 2, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $49-79 for adult daily; $29-49 for children ages 7 to 14; $49-69 for ages 15 to 24; $39-59 for seniors
  • Vertical rise: 2,777 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Rental and gear shop, ski school, night skiing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snow tubing, three restaurants, three on-mountain restaurants, child care
  • Accessibility: State Route 26 is a multi-lane state highway over a mountain pass susceptible to winter weather. Consult Tripcheck.com before you go.
  • Deals/special pricing: Lift tickets are priced dynamically, so buy in advance online to save; value pass for $509 includes unlimited skiing outside peak days; no unlimited season pass exists.
  • Challenge level: A little bit of everything with 14 greens, 38 blues, 23 black diamonds and 10 double-blacks.
  • Adaptive program: No.

Stevens Pass has cleaned up a bit under new owners Vail Resorts, but it still offers incredible slopes and views. (Courtesy of Vail Resorts)
Stevens Pass has cleaned up a bit under new owners Vail Resorts, but it still offers incredible slopes and views. (Courtesy of Vail Resorts)

Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass Highway, Skykomish; 206-812-4510; stevenspass.com/

What it’s known for: Enticing intermediate and advanced runs

Stevens was lovably scruffy — its overnight RV lot is the stuff of ski bum legend — until Vail Resorts purchased the resort in 2018. That acquisition has brought investment, however, which should ease notorious front-side lift lines, with the Daisy and Brooks lifts upgraded to quad chairs, though the back side can clog up at the bottom of Jupiter Express and Southern Cross. Stevens boasts exceptional fall-line runs like Wild Katz and Andromeda Face, as well as delectable open skiing in Big Chief and Tye Bowls. With limited parking available, plan to leave early, especially on weekends, as lots can and will reach capacity. Carpools of four or more get free VIP parking. Take advantage.

  • Distance from Seattle: 82 miles (approximately 1.5 hours)
  • Open for season: Dec 18, 2019
  • Estimated closing date: April 19, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $55-89 for adult daily; $37-60 for children ages 7 to 15
  • Vertical rise: 1,800 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Night skiing, Nordic center with snowshoe trails, free snow-play area, rental and gear shop, ski school, three day lodges containing five restaurants and two pubs, including après-ski with live music in the Foggy Goggle, RV lot.
  • Accessibility: State Route 2 is a multi-lane state highway over a mountain pass that is susceptible to winter closures for avalanche control and spinouts. Carry chains — they can be required under penalty of fine. Check WSDOT before you go. Resort runs free shuttle buses from satellite parking and Nordic center to main base area.
  • Deals/special pricing: Lift tickets are priced dynamically so buy in advance online to save, member of Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass program (season pass good at resorts worldwide, must have purchased before Dec. 2), can use up to two days of Whistler/Blackcomb Edge Card here, midweek Stevens-only pass available for $479.
  • Challenge level: Over half of runs are intermediate. Limited beginner skiing on front side. About one-third advanced runs.
  • Adaptive program: Yes, through Outdoors For All Foundation.

An hour tops from the city with easy interstate access and abundant parking, the Summit at Snoqualmie has seen generations of Seattle skiers carve their first turns along its slopes. (Courtesy of The Summit at Snoqualmie)
An hour tops from the city with easy interstate access and abundant parking, the Summit at Snoqualmie has seen generations of Seattle skiers carve their first turns along its slopes. (Courtesy of The Summit at Snoqualmie)

The Summit at Snoqualmie / Alpental

1001 State Route 906, Snoqualmie Pass; 425-434-7669; summitatsnoqualmie.com/

What it’s known for: Seattle’s ski and snowboard training ground

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The motto “Where Seattle learns to ski and snowboard” couldn’t be truer. An hour from the city with easy interstate access and abundant parking, the Summit at Snoqualmie began as a project of the Seattle municipal park board in 1934. Eight decades later, generations of Seattle skiers still carve their first turns along the gentle slopes at Summit West and graduate to the steep cliff runs that mark Alpental’s Edelweiss Chair. On busy days, locals know to lap the Silver Fir high-speed quad at Summit Central. In addition to a comprehensive ski school, Summit at Snoqualmie earns its family-friendly chops with an extensive snow tubing center. The state’s largest night skiing operation entices for post-work shred sessions.

  • Distance from Seattle: 54 miles (approximately 1 hour)
  • Open for season: Dec. 15, 2019 (estimated)
  • Estimated closing date: April 12, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $36-70 for adult daily; $9-13 for children ages 6 and under; $21-48 for children ages 7 to 12; $22-46 for seniors
  • Vertical rise: 2,280 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Night skiing, Nordic center with snowshoe trails, snow tubing, rental and gear shop, ski school, 12 restaurants, four bars. The Pass Life has brewery, restaurant and ski museum.
  • Accessibility: I-90 is a multi-lane interstate highway over a mountain pass susceptible to winter closures for avalanche control and spinouts. Carry chains, which might be required under penalty of fine. Check WSDOT before you go. Resort runs free shuttle buses between base areas.
  • Deals/special pricing: Lift tickets are priced dynamically, season passes cost $599 but cheapest midweek passes at $389, “Snow Guarantee” discounts the price of following season’s pass if resort opens less than 85 days this season. Seniors 80 and older are eligible for the free Super Duper Pass, which offers unlimited access to all Summit areas for the entire season.
  • Challenge level: Extensive beginner terrain at Summit West, good intermediate options at Summit Central and East, rowdy expert terrain at Alpental.
  • Adaptive program: Yes, through Outdoors For All Foundation. 

Timberline is known for its slopes as well as its iconic, imposing lodge, used as the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film, “The Shining.” (Courtesy of Timberline Lodge & Ski Area)
Timberline is known for its slopes as well as its iconic, imposing lodge, used as the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film, “The Shining.” (Courtesy of Timberline Lodge & Ski Area)

Timberline Ski Area

27500 E. Timberline Road, Government Camp, Oregon; 503-272-3311; timberlinelodge.com/

What it’s known for: Summer skiing and “The Shining”

Imposing Timberline Lodge is a Northwest architectural icon dating to the 1930s, instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen “The Shining.” The historic resort has other claims to fame, like the Palmer Chairlift that stretches up to 8,500 feet on Mount Hood, allowing for summer skiing on the Palmer Glacier. Come winter, though, the terrain is mellower than neighbors like Skibowl and Mount Hood Meadows. An easy day trip from Portland, but if you are looking for a snowy weekend getaway, there are lodging options in nearby Government Camp, the historic lodge itself and the coveted high-mountain lodge Silcox Hut.

  • Distance from Seattle: 227 miles (approximately 4 hours)
  • Open for season: Yes
  • Estimated closing date: Winter operations normally end in May; Palmer Chairlift remains open through summer for glacier skiing.
  • Lift tickets: $75-87 for adult daily; $65-72 for children ages 15 to 17; $49-52 for children ages 7 to 14 and seniors
  • Vertical rise: 3,690 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Rental and gear shop, ski school, Friday and Saturday night skiing, historic lodge, on-mountain overnight hut, three restaurants, two bars, one on-mountain restaurant, snow-cat skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing.
  • Accessibility: State Route 26 is a multi-lane state highway over a mountain pass susceptible to winter weather. Consult Tripcheck.com before you go.
  • Deals/special pricing: Season pass is $749-849, member of Powder Alliance (purchase a season pass and get three days at 18 other resorts), weekday only pass is $369 
  • Challenge level: Intermediate with more reliable options for powder skiers.
  • Adaptive program: No.

Host of the 2010 Olympic alpine and Nordic events, Whistler Blackcomb is an international destination for skiing and snowboarding. (Mitch Winton / Whistler Blackcomb)
Host of the 2010 Olympic alpine and Nordic events, Whistler Blackcomb is an international destination for skiing and snowboarding. (Mitch Winton / Whistler Blackcomb)

Whistler Blackcomb

4545 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, British Columbia; 604-967-8950; whistlerblackcomb.com/

What it’s known for: The best skiing in the Pacific Northwest

Host of the 2010 Olympic Alpine and Nordic events, Whistler Blackcomb is the big kahuna of Pacific Northwest skiing, a true international destination resort that regularly tops “best of” lists. With a vertical mile from top to bottom, 200-plus trails and more than 8,000 skiable acres, you can spend a week here and barely scratch the surface.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler is no mere ski town; the entire place is laid out perfectly to encourage walking (or a short bus ride) from lodging to lift, a stroll through a wonderland village so popular that people visit with no intention of skiing — content to visit boutique shops, fine-dining restaurants, cozy bars, bumping nightclubs, a movie theater or the outdoor ice rink. Whistler has the crowds and costs to match these top-of-the-line amenities, but everyone — from the non-skier to the wannabe extra in a Warren Miller movie — returns home happy. Pro tip: Don’t get discouraged by rain in the village. Stay dry in the gondola and know that means it’s snowing up high.

  • Distance from Seattle: 218 miles (approximately 4 hours, border crossing can vary)
  • Open for season: Yes
  • Estimated closing date: May 25, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $118-123 for adult daily; $54-62 for children ages 7 to 12; $90-$105 for children ages 13 to 18; $95-111 for seniors
  • Vertical rise: 5,280 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Everything you can imagine or reasonably expect from a ski resort and then some, like a Scandinavian day spa, Olympic-class cross-country skiing, dog sledding and bobsled track.
  • Accessibility: Must have proper ID to cross the U.S.-Canada border (U.S. or Canadian passport, NEXUS card, Washington Enhanced Driver’s License), winter tires required on Sea to Sky Highway under penalty of fine. Check DriveBC.ca before you go. Regular bus service to and from Vancouver International Airport and downtown, reliable free and paid local bus service throughout Whistler.
  • Deals/special pricing: Lift tickets are priced dynamically so buy in advance online to save, member of Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass program (season pass good at resorts worldwide, must have purchased before Dec. 2), Washington residents eligible for Edge Card offering discounted two, five and 10-day options (must have purchased before Dec. 2).
  • Challenge level: Something for everyone — enormous learning area, endless groomed runs, huge terrain parks, ample glades, extreme Alpine runs.
  • Adaptive program: Yes, through Whistler Adaptive Sports Program.

White Pass starts at 4,500 feet, higher than Stevens Pass, and boasts stunning panoramic views of the south side of Mount Rainier. (Jason Hummel / White Pass Ski Area)
White Pass starts at 4,500 feet, higher than Stevens Pass, and boasts stunning panoramic views of the south side of Mount Rainier. (Jason Hummel / White Pass Ski Area)

White Pass Ski Area

48935 U.S. Highway 12, Naches; 509-672-3100; skiwhitepass.com/

What it’s known for: A sleeper resort with stunning views

A sleeper ski area most popular with South Sound residents, White Pass nevertheless starts at 4500 feet, higher even than Stevens Pass. Like Crystal, the resort boasts stunning panoramic views of Mount Rainier — in this case, of the mountain’s south side. A 2011 expansion (some 30 years in the making) has largely eliminated clogged lift lines, and an on-mountain yurt makes for a cozy midday cocoa or beer break. With a charming inn and a respectable Nordic center, White Pass is an overlooked overnight destination.

  • Distance from Seattle: 146 miles (approximately 3 hours)
  • Open for season: Opening day is Dec. 14, 2019.
  • Estimated closing date: April 28, 2020
  • Lift tickets: $73 for adult daily; $5 for children ages 8 and under; $52 for children ages 9 to 16; $5 for Super Seniors, ages 73 and older
  • Vertical rise: 2,050 feet
  • Amenities/other activities: Night skiing on Saturdays and holidays through end of February, tubing hill, Nordic center, snowshoe trails, rental and gear shop, ski school, one on-site hotel with child care, two on-mountain restaurants, two lodge restaurants, espresso bar, pub, RV lot.
  • Accessibility: State Route 12 is a multi-lane state highway over a mountain pass. Carry chains — they can be required under penalty of fine. Check WSDOT before you go.
  • Deals/special pricing: Holders of Summit at Snoqualmie Unlimited Pass get 50% off lift tickets Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), member of Indy Pass ($219 for two days at each of 44 independent resorts) and Powder Alliance (purchase a season pass and get three days at 18 other resorts).
  • Challenge level: A cruiser’s paradise with lots of intermediate runs, including mellow bowl skiing.
  • Adaptive program: No.

 

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the opening date of Stevens Pass and the vertical rise of Grouse Mountain (1,260 feet).