The ski resorts in Washington state have never really attracted much in the way of attention from skiers and snowboarders further away. That’s fine with Washington locals and for the ski resorts themselves, as visitors from major cities and towns in the area can make the most of the fresh snow themselves.
Although Washington state has a number of ski resorts clustered close to Seattle and Tacoma, there are still opportunities for skiers on the eastern side of the state over near Spokane. And, for those located closer to (and over) the border with Canada, Mt. Baker offers the biggest ski area in Washington.
Note that heavy snowfall can impact both accessibility by road and the percentage of lifts which are open in a Washington state ski resort, especially those which are located on a mountain pass or on avalanche-prone access roads. This is an issue which affects Washington skiing in particular as so many of the ski resorts are reliant on day-trippers rather than other states where a good proportion of the typical skier and snowboarder may be staying in resort accommodation.
Map of ski resorts in Washington state
Mt. Baker Ski Area
The Mt. Baker ski area is the largest in Washington state when it comes to the amount of skiing on over 60 miles of ski runs. It has a reputation for massive dumps of snow and for fabulous views both of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan.
The ski lifts are located on Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest land and are accessed by a dead-end road leading into two base areas located between the two mountains (the ski slopes are not actually on Mt. Baker). Although the ski resort has a reputation for tough in-bounds ski runs and powder chutes, there are areas suitable for beginner skiers close to the two base areas.
There is no accommodation at the ski area itself but there are guesthouses and small lodges on the access road into the National Forest. The ski area is only 90 minutes away from Bellingham in good driving conditions and Vancouver is just over two hours away. Mt. Baker has a long winter season from November into April and has an average snowfall of 663 inches.
Mt. Baker Video
Mt. Baker Ski Stats
Lifts: The Mt. Baker ski area has 10 lifts, including eight quad chairlifts
Terrain: The ski area covers 1000 acres
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is just under 1600 feet
Longest run: The longest ski run at Mt. Baker is around 9800 feet in length
I LOVED visiting this mountain. It was not crazily expensive, not too crowded and the views were spectacular.Austin, A Walk and A Lark
Ski Area Website: www.mtbaker.us
Ski resorts near Seattle
The Summit at Snoqualmie
Taken together, the four different ski areas which make up The Summit at Snoqualmie skiing would be the biggest ski resort in Washington state if measured in terms of ski lifts or skiable terrain. But the relatively low vertical difference means that the total length of the ski runs is only a third of other areas like Mt. Baker and Mission Ridge.
The Summit at Snoqualmie is the closest ski resort to Seattle, only an hour’s drive down the three-lane I-90 highway on the western side of Snoqualmie Pass, which means that the different ski areas can get crowded on weekends and public holidays. It also offers extensive midweek night skiing, popular with Seattle residents looking for a few turns after finishing work.
The four ski areas are completely separate and have different characteristics. The first reached from Seattle is Alpental: the best of the four for the advanced skier, with more than 50% of the runs rated advanced or expert. Even more advanced ungroomed backcountry skiing is available in the Back Bowls after registration with the ski patrol.
Summit West is the next of the ski areas, known for its gentle runs suitable for beginners. Summit Central and Summit East are best for the family and intermediate level skier, with Summit East also offering access to the cross country skiing at Snoqualmie.
The Summit at Snoqualmie Video
The Summit at Snoqualmie Ski Stats
Lifts: The four ski areas offer 25 lifts, including 19 chairlifts
Terrain: The ski area covers nearly 2000 acres
Vertical drop: The biggest difference between the valley and the top station is at Alpental with 2280 feet of vertical
Longest run: The longest ski run is at Alpental and is around 1.2 miles in length
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.Seattle Times
Ski Area Website: summitatsnoqualmie.com
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort
Crystal Mountain resort is the largest ski area in Washington state when it comes to the size of the terrain with a total of 2300 acres served by lifts (and another 300 acres of inbounds backcountry skiing) and 57 designated trails.
The ski area is located a few miles to the east of Mount Rainier and offers spectacular views of the nearby peak in good conditions. It can be reached from the Seattle area in around two hours and, with its size, offers a wide range of options for the skier and snowboarder alike, as well as accommodation near the base area.
Crystal Mountain is currently the only Washington ski area to have a gondola lift, which serves the main skiing, although the top lift-served point is actually a few feet higher over on the summit of Silver Queen.
Crystal Mountain Video
Crystal Mountain Ski Stats
Lifts: The ski lifts consist of an eight-seater gondola and ten chairlifts
Terrain: The ski area covers 2300 acres (lift-served) or 2600 acres (including inbounds backcountry)
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is around 3000 feet of vertical
Longest run: The longest ski run is around 2.5 miles in length
Washington’s largest and highest-elevation ski resort has the amenities – with a top-of-the-mountain restaurant, two lodges, a gondola and four high-speed lifts – to match some of the best ski resorts in North America.Spokesman-Review, Spokane
Ski Area Website: www.crystalmountainresort.com
Ski resorts in central Washington state
Stevens Pass Mountain Resort
Stevens Pass is another of the ski areas which is not that far from the city of Seattle. Located at just above 4000 feet and 90 minutes drive outside the city on the way to Leavenworth, the ski resort was added to the Vail Resorts stable in 2018.
The compact area is undergoing a programme of expansion to cope with high demand from the cities and towns in the Pacific Northwest. Accommodation is available at Leavenworth, a popular tourist destination, although many of the skiers will be arriving from the Seattle region for the day.
There is plenty of intermediate skiing available but the mountain is known for steep challenging runs off the Seventh Heaven chair. There is popular night skiing most days of the week and the pass offers a terrain park and a cross country skiing area.
Stevens Pass Video
Stevens Pass Ski Stats
Lifts: Uphill capacity is consists of ten chairlifts
Terrain: The ski area covers 1125 acres on two sides of the mountain
Vertical drop: The vertical difference between the valley and the top station is 1800 feet
Longest run: The longest ski run is just over a mile in length
Ski Area Website: www.stevenspass.com
Mission Ridge Ski Resort
Mission Ridge is another of the challengers for ‘biggest Washington ski resort’ with skiing near Wenatchee on 2000 acres of terrain and with more than 60 miles of ski runs.
It does also have a relatively low number of lifts to service the large amount of terrain and is on the eastern side of the Cascade range, which means that the ski area receives markedly less annual snowfall than some of the ski resorts closer to Seattle. However the advantage is that the fresh snow tends to be light dry powder rather than ‘Cascade cement’.
Mission Ridge Ski Resort has had snowmaking and night skiing since the Seventies and has a small terrain park.
Mission Ridge Video
Mission Ridge Ski Stats
Lifts: The ski area has four chairlifts and two rope tows (one rope tow being for the terrain park)
Terrain: The ski area covers 2000 acres
Vertical drop: The vertical difference between the valley and the top station is 2250 feet
Longest run: The longest ski run is just just under two miles in length
We absolutely love skiing at Mission Ridge. The views are beautiful, lots of great runs for all abilities, short lift lines & friendly staff.Wendy, Washington
Ski Area Website: www.missionridge.com
Loup Loup Ski Bowl
The ski hill at Loup Loup is a smaller area run by a non-profit volunteer group in the Methow valley between Twisp and Okanogan. The skiing is open four days a week (Wednesday and Friday to Sunday) and offers three lifts (one chairlift) and ten ski runs on 1240 vertical feet and 300 acres of terrain.
The ski area also has a terrain park, a tubing hill open at weekends and groomed cross country skiing trails.
Ski Area Website: skitheloup.com
Ski resorts in eastern Washington state
49 Degrees North Mountain Resort
The 49 Degrees North ski area is located about ninety minutes drive north of downtown Spokane near the town of Chewelah in eastern Washington state.
The skiing covers some sizeable terrain in three basins on Chewelah Peak and Angel Peak. The ski lifts, mostly chairlifts, offer access to long intermediate level runs, as well as some gladed tree skiing.
49 Degrees North Video
49 Degrees North Ski Stats
Lifts: The ski area has six chairlifts and one conveyor lift near the base area
Terrain: The ski area covers 2325 acres
Vertical drop: The vertical difference between the valley and the top station is 1850 feet
Longest run: The longest ski run is 2.75 miles in length
A great family ski hill with a good variety of skill levels available. We’ve never really had to wait in line and the conditions are always good when we’ve visited.John, Hawaii
Ski Area Website: www.ski49n.com
Mt. Spokane Ski Area
The Mt. Spokane ski hill is only a short trip from downtown Spokane and is another community-run ski and snowboard park. Skiing started here just after the Second World War and, according to locals, it was the first Washington ski area to start a ski club, operate a ski patrol and build both a chairlift and a rope tow.
Mt. Spokane also has a terrain park of over a mile in length and a Nordic ski area.
Mt. Spokane Video
Mt. Spokane Ski Stats
Lifts: The ski area has eight lifts, including six chairlifts
Terrain: The ski area covers 1700 acres
Vertical drop: The ski area offers 2000 skiable vertical feet
Night skiing: Night skiing is available from Wednesday to Saturday
Spokane has never developed a significant reputation as a destination ski town; however, almost everyone agrees that the Mt. Spokane Ski & Recreation Area is a jewel and that the skiing is affordable and super convenient.outthereoutdoors.com
Ski Area Website: www.mtspokane.com
Ski resorts in southern Washington state
White Pass Ski Resort
White Pass ski area could also be classed as a ski resort for the southern Puget Sound region as it is located about halfway between Portland and Seattle to the south-east of Mount Rainier.
Visitors describe it as a relaxed smaller family area suitable for intermediate level skiers and it is known as the ski hill which produced US Olympic skiers Phil and Steve Mahre. (Their father worked at the ski area.)
There are a few longer and tougher runs on the original mountain above the base area, but the expansion has increased the blue and green runs available.
White Pass Video
White Pass Ski Stats
Lifts: The ski area has six chairlifts and two surface lifts
Terrain: The ski area covers 1400 acres
Vertical drop: The ski area offers a vertical of 2000 feet
Night skiing: Night skiing is available on Saturdays and holidays
Generally White Pass is a pretty easy resort but there was enough challenge to keep us interested for a day or two.skinorthamerica100.com
Ski Area Website: skiwhitepass.com
Bluewood was developed in the Eighties in the Umatilla National Forest in southeastern Washington south of Dayton. The small ski area (with two chairlifts and two surface lifts) is open four or five days a week during most of the winter season. It has 24 trails, the longest being 2.25 miles, and 1125 feet of vertical. The ski area is implementing a three-year-plan of lift upgrades and the introduction of a snowmaking area near the base.
Ski Area Website: bluewood.com