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driving to Stevens Pass

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I'm planning on staying in Seattle and driving to Steven's Pass very early on a Sunday morning and driving back around 7pm that same day.  I have experience driving in the snow and have 4wd.  Is this what many people from Seattle do?  Is it safe?  This will be my first trip to Washington and I'm looking forward to riding the resorts close to Seattle and Federal Way in early December.  Any other advice?

post #2 of 19

Yup, that's pretty much what people do, and it is safe.  As long as there isn't a big storm with a super dump of snow and blown-down trees in the roadway, a vehicle with 4WD should do fine.  Just watch the speed limits when going thru the small towns on US2.  If you are commuting from the City of Seattle proper then you have to be prepared for traffic jams but you will be going generally in the opposite direction of traffic flows.

post #3 of 19

This ^^^^^

 

You do not say when you will be doing this. Stevens has very much been discovered. So, unless we are suffering a huge snow drought, Hiway 2 now tends to be totally nuts on weekends and holidays (and some holiday weeks). Unless this is late season or pre-xmas, plan to be through Sultan before 7:00 AM. Or wait to arrive after lunch. 

 

It is a good two lane road. But the combo of weather and traffic can make for some crazy stuff. Just stay calm... And as noted above, pay very close attention to the speed limits. Total speed traps at this point.

 

These links might be useful. Especially if there is a prospect of avy control work. Usually done at night (WA DOT has a couple tanks there) and cleared by dawn. But sometimes they need to extend it or do some extra AM control work.  http://i90.atmos.washington.edu/roadview/sr2/ and http://www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes/stevens/default.aspx

 

If you need to rent any gear, try to do it in town the day or evening before.

 

Cross your fingers for a big cycle. Not many places ski better than Stevens when things line up.

post #4 of 19

Ditto those guys ^^^

 

I knew there was a reason I don't go to Stevens on the weekend until spring.

post #5 of 19

Agree with everything said, the one thing that I'll add is that in my opinion, WSDOT does an excellent job keeping Hwy 2 clear.  Unless it's really dumping while you're driving, the worst conditions you'll encounter are likely going to be in the Stevens parking lot.

post #6 of 19

You'll be in Federal Way? Crystal is closer and the better choice.

 

I'm finding the traffic advice surprising. I don't ski Stevens regularly anymore, but I did until 2-3 years ago, mostly on Sundays, and never had

traffic (on the road, that is. On the slopes, yes). I always left my house in Seattle about 7. Have things really changed that much? 

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post

 

I'm finding the traffic advice surprising. I don't ski Stevens regularly anymore, but I did until 2-3 years ago, mostly on Sundays, and never had traffic (on the road, that is. On the slopes, yes). I always left my house in Seattle about 7. Have things really changed that much? 

 

Just my $.02.  Things have been getting bad the last few years, but last year was particularly bad.  I partially blame the weather.  We had a slow start to the season.  During that time period, everything was fine.  But once we did finally get snow in January, people were so antsy that *everyone* came.  I got shut out of the parking lot once, left Seattle at 6:35, hit stop and go traffic in Monroe, came to a dead stop about 4 miles from the summit.  Turned around and drove home after I didn't move for 20 minutes (don't think I would have even gotten into Yodelin from what I read on Facebook, and didn't want to bother to try).  According to Facebook, Crystal was a disaster that day too.  Anyway, I started leaving Seattle by 6:15am on any day I thought it might be decent to good conditions.

 

I'm hopeful that last year was not the new normal.  We shall see.

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post
 

You'll be in Federal Way? Crystal is closer and the better choice.

 

I'm finding the traffic advice surprising. I don't ski Stevens regularly anymore, but I did until 2-3 years ago, mostly on Sundays, and never had

traffic (on the road, that is. On the slopes, yes). I always left my house in Seattle about 7. Have things really changed that much? 


^^^Ditto.  If you are staying anywhere south of Seattle, Crystal is the better call (assuming conditions are roughly similar).

 

In the "olden days," Stevens was the quicker of the 2 drives, assuming a comparable starting point on the eastside.  I think that the biggest change is less that Stevens has been "discovered," more the population growth from Redmond out to Monroe.  There are just way more people in the area that naturally feeds Stevens.  And now, the stop lights in Sultan, etc.. . really slow things down, especially in the evening.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for all of the advice.  I'm definitely going to ride Crystal while I'm in Federal Way.  Just looking to attend an event at Steven's on Sunday and make my late night flight out of Seattle that same day.  I'll be there next week, so I'm hoping everyone opens in time for me.  What about Snoqualmie?  Which of the mountains are the most fun?  It looks like there are 4 separate mountains.  I ride and love powder, but if the snow isn't good, I'm happy to stay in the park.  Thanks again, Everyone!

post #10 of 19
Park, snoq. central. Skiing, Alpental. Highly unlikely they'll open. Looks like another slow start to the season this year as well.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
 I got shut out of the parking lot once, left Seattle at 6:35, hit stop and go traffic in Monroe, came to a dead stop about 4 miles from the summit.  Turned around and drove home after I didn't move for 20 minutes (don't think I would have even gotten into Yodelin from what I read on Facebook, and didn't want to bother to try).  According to Facebook, Crystal was a disaster that day too.  

If that was last season I know the day you're talking about. I think it was the first big snow day of the entire year. Yes it was a mess getting to Crystal too--I can't remember if that was just due to crowds or if the blvd was icy too. It wasn't representitive of traffic at Crystal and unless this is happening to everyone every weekend, I suspect that isn't the norm for Stevens as well. Though I know you do need to get a spot in the lot early; that was true a few years ago too (we'd always plan on getting there before opening).

 

Brandi it's hard to say what will be open next week--you'll probably have to play it by ear. Crystal has a VERY limited opening today.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post
 

If that was last season I know the day you're talking about. I think it was the first big snow day of the entire year. Yes it was a mess getting to Crystal too--I can't remember if that was just due to crowds or if the blvd was icy too. It wasn't representitive of traffic at Crystal and unless this is happening to everyone every weekend, I suspect that isn't the norm for Stevens as well. Though I know you do need to get a spot in the lot early; that was true a few years ago too (we'd always plan on getting there before opening).

 

Yup, that was the day.  And I agree, that wasn't the norm for Stevens.  But even on normal days, the lots were definitely filling up earlier than usual.

 

I used to aim to hit the lot around 8:30-8:45.  On days with no new snow, that's still fine, but on big days I aim for 8:00 to 8:15 instead.  If you get there that early, things are still fine.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post

 

Brandi it's hard to say what will be open next week--you'll probably have to play it by ear. Crystal has a VERY limited opening today.

 

Yeah, I wouldn't get my hopes up for any great skiing next week, but you may be able to get some turns in at least.  Looks like some more moisture coming later this week, hopefully that'll help.

post #14 of 19

Brandi

 

Currently the weather in the WA Cascades is clear, and the region is in a cold snap.  Just looking at the forecast, the predictions are for some kind of storm to be coming in maybe next Thursday.  Yeah, I guess Crystal just opened up but with limited operations.  At least I would say try to get up to Crystal, it is an incredible Mt.  Don't know how much you will be able to explore, due to marginal conditions unfortunately.

 

If you have 4wd, and experience driving in snow, you'll be fine.

 

Have Fun

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Christy319 View Post
 

If that was last season I know the day you're talking about. I think it was the first big snow day of the entire year. Yes it was a mess getting to Crystal too--I can't remember if that was just due to crowds or if the blvd was icy too. It wasn't representitive of traffic at Crystal and unless this is happening to everyone every weekend, I suspect that isn't the norm for Stevens as well. Though I know you do need to get a spot in the lot early; that was true a few years ago too (we'd always plan on getting there before opening).

 

Brandi it's hard to say what will be open next week--you'll probably have to play it by ear. Crystal has a VERY limited opening today.


Almost every single weekend at Stevens after xmas was a true disaster in terms of traffic and parking last year. 

 

Clearing Sultan at 7:30 meant you hoped for overflow at Yodelin... and it was a coin toss at best. State patrol was driven more than a bit nuts by the whole thing. This is a huge negative change from 2-3 years ago. 

 

IMO this likely traces to a variety of things related to the new ownership, and the management metrics I suspect they put in place (so it goes in the world of PE ownership...). But the key thing to know is that weekends now demand you be in the Stevens parking lot by 8:00 AM. And on non-big weekdays, it is a coin toss as to whether or not the upper mountain will be open. Even if it is a good day - if the forecast did not spin up the crowd to show - cross your fingers for 7th and DD and maybe others as well.

 

After many years of skiing Stevens 30+ days a year (and merrily supporting the food selling and other operations as well), the past two years of "management" caused us to opt for full Crystal passes this year. Happily broken in today. Don't get me wrong - Stevens is a great mountain. For years it was an undiscovered gem in all dimensions (under the old ownership). I'll still ski it a moderate amount. But it now demands way more strategy and timing to make it fun. The clear decline in staff morale does not help either. And don't get me started on the now less than forthright snow reports - another marked change from a few years ago.

post #16 of 19

For something different had been considering giving Stevens a try mid week (I've already heard about the weekends)

But I never imagined all the lifts might not be running. Makes Stevens sound pretty iffy. I hope your referring to just the tail end of season ?   

post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by noncrazycanuck View Post
 

For something different had been considering giving Stevens a try mid week (I've already heard about the weekends)

But I never imagined all the lifts might not be running. Makes Stevens sound pretty iffy. I hope your referring to just the tail end of season ?   


I wish...

 

Here is a quote from the 2012 press release about new management. Given a couple seasons of experience, the meaning is now clear...

 

Quote:
developed and implemented a forecasting tool allowing for proactive adjustment to staffing and operating levels based on anticipated visits that lead to reduced expenses and increased profitability
post #18 of 19

Not exactly "enhancing the customer experience". From where I live there are a lot of other options in the same or less driving time.

post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 


Thanks Wuz!

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