Great Washington Winter Activities

Skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, dog mushing, and good old tromping through the snow—Washington state has it all when it comes to winter.

For downhill thrills, visit stellar ski resorts scattered across the state. A 30-minute drive from Seattle, mellow Summit at Snoqualmie  welcomes families while daredevils try its rowdier neighbor, black diamond–saturated Alpental. Further south, situated beside Mount Rainier), Crystal Mountain  holds the title of biggest resort in the state, with 2,600 acres of terrain. A gondola takes skiers up to the 7,000-foot summit for postcard-worthy views of the neighboring volcano. In the North Cascades, Mt. Baker Ski Area is renowned for its epic snow—it was blessed with the most annual snowfall in the world in 1998. Find more ski runs further east at Bluewood outside Dayton, Mission Ridge near Wenatchee, White Pass near Yakima and 49 Degrees North  in Chewelah.

To lay fresh tracks, tag along on a guided backcountry ski tour with Pro Guiding Service (proguiding.com). The company leads skiers onto the Cascades for untouched powder and gorgeous views. Prefer more light-hearted snow fun? Take advantage of the tubing hill and tow-rope bunny runs at Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula. Sled to it at Hyak Sno-Park off I-90. Or zoom on a snowmobile at nine Sno-Parks in the Chelan and Leavenworth areas.

For cross-country skiers, the Methow Valley is it, with miles of groomed trails that pass through frosted pines. In fact, the Methow system is the largest cross-country ski area in the nation. There are more great trails in Mt. Spokane State Park and the Echo Ridge Nordic Ski Area.

Nordic parks also make way for snowshoers to tromp around. There are free guided tours in the Methow Valley that head out Saturdays from the North Cascades Basecamp in Mazama. On Mount Rainier, park rangers offer snowshoe walks on weekends. More ranger-led treks are available at Mount Baker, from both Glacier and Darrington, as well as Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass. There are even photography-oriented outings from the visitors’ center in Snoqualmie.

For a furrier experience, ride along with Northwest Dogsled Adventures, which zooms off on trails outside Leavenworth under the tutelage of Iditarod veterans. Riders can hunker down with blankets and watch the scenery zip by or help run the team. But if you want to keep it classic, opt for a horse-pulled sleigh ride through the snow with Happy Trails in Easton. Bundle up and get on out there!

 --Anne Larkin