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Ski areas in the Seattle area

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have never skied out west before and will be in the Seattle area in early March for a week. I am looking for suggestions on where to ski in the area. I am willing to drive a reasonable distance... up to 2-3 hours and would like opinions on the best areas to visit. Any help would be greatly appreciated. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

The best skier on the mountain is the one with the biggest smile!
post #2 of 17
If you're going to pick one place go for Crystal Mountain. It's about a two hour drive from Seattle. If you want to try some other mountains good choices, in order of drive time, are: Alpental, Stevens Pass, Mt. Baker. Also remember that Whistler/Blackcomb isn't that far. You can drive there in 4 hours if roads are dry and you don't have to wait at the border. W/B is definitely worth the drive, and the drive between Vancouver and Whistler is incredibly scenic.
post #3 of 17
Tell us what type of skiing your looking for and those of us local to the areas might be able to help you out.

This site is also useful and has links to all the
major WA. areas:


Then you can try these independant sites;


March many times is the best month in WA and usually we are
still getting dumped on and the snowpack will be at its peak.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Having never been out west before I am looking to get a taste of the differences to Eastern skiing. I like skiing all terrain from hard carving on the cruisers to steeps and trees, not real big on moguls and .... GASP ...I also am a closet snowboarder and would love to do some boarding as well. Whistler would be great but don't think I would make the 4-5 hour drive. As a local what would you recommend? Thanks in advance for the advice.
post #5 of 17
Where is "Seattle area"?
How many days to ski?

If just one or two days, I'd suggest Crystal.
Hands down it's the best place in WA to go. Other areas have specifics that may be better, but no one matches Crystal's available terrain inbounds. Crystal is the closest thing to Colorado skiing in WA.

With a week to play, you could spend it all at Crystal, but would also have fun road tripping to the other areas.

Working North to South...

Baker would be the longest drive (You might like to spend the night before in Bellingham) They typically have more snow than you've probably ever seen in a life back east. (Thier record snowfall for a winter a few years ago was 95 feet. Yes, I typed feet!) Baker is a very snowboard friendly hill with very few flats/traverses.

Stevens has a lot of fun (especially on the backside). Best on a weekday as weekends it can get pretty jammed up.

Snoqualmie Summit has 4 slopes all on one ticket.
Easiest access from downtown Seattle - 52 miles of I-90 six lane interstate right to the pass.
Alpental is small but lots of fun. Steeps available up top and many little nooks to explore. Hit the Alp on a Tuesday if it' been snowing as it's closed from Sunday night at 5 and all day Monday. Freshies all day!
West only if you need a beginner's hill.
Central & Hyak also have thier fun spots.
Just for fun, you can ski between the three southside resorts via crossover trails. Alpental is a very short drive/free shuttle bus ride on the north side of I90.

Crystal Mt. If nowhere else in western WA, hit Crystal.

White Pass has never been crowded when I've been there. Lots of fun runs.

Hope that helps. March is typically a great time on the hill.

PS: Re Whistler - I'd make that a separate trip for a week all on it's own. Heck, a month at W/B would probably still leave unskied runs.

[ October 24, 2003, 06:42 PM: Message edited by: TomK ]
post #6 of 17
Alpental is awesome. Especially the terrain and the views from the top. Also is close to Seattle and just a short drive from where we stay in North Bend, when we are there.

Crystal would be my second choice, just a little farther away but it's bigger and has more variety of terrain, more lifts and the view of Mt. Rainier is spectacular.

Whistler is more like a 5 hour trip than a 4 hour drive. Well worth the trip if you got alot of time to spend there, but for pure skiing pleasure on a short time stay, the areas that I have mentioned will be great, and you'll spend a lot less money too.
post #7 of 17
It sounds as though you like to ski everything, so Alpental would be a good choice. If you're going to be with anyone who can't handle a legitimate ungroomed black, though, they're going to get bored with Alpental pretty quick. You might want to drop them off at one of the other Snoqualmie areas.

Crystal should still be your first choice, though. Another thing to mention is that there's a charter bus that runs from Seattle and the Eastside that goes up to Crystal on the weekends.
post #8 of 17
I would also suggest crystal or stevens. Both have great terrain for all types of people, and both have very good expert level stuff. Crystal can be a pain in the butt to get to some times as you have to drive through small cities the entire way and with seattle traffic it can take much longer than 2 hours. The drive to stevens is generally a little quicker. While Alpintal has a lot of sick terrain it can take some time to find it. If you are just going to ski for a few days I think you would have more fun at the other two options. Also if you have people with you that can't handle expert slopes you would have to drop them off at one of the other skis areas which is about 5 or 10 minuits away so you would not be able to ski with each other at all.
post #9 of 17
I was in Seattle twice on business during the ski season a few years ago. I rented a car and drove up to Crystal both weekends, based on discussions w/ people out there and some checking on the internet. There is lodging at the mountain (which some of the other places don't have, as I recall), and there is a pretty cool bar (Snorting Elk?). Skiing was very good, although it was my first experience w/ "Sierra cement". Only problem I had was "fog". It was pretty socked in every day I was there (both times), except my very last day on the 2nd weekend. I would highly recommend it, although I can't claim to have any direct experience at the other areas. It took me about 90 min. to drive, as I recall. Lodging/lift package was very reasonable (although both times were not during "prime" season).
post #10 of 17
Obviously, everyone has their favorite hill .

Where will you be staying? Downtown? N? S? E? Are you out for a week of fun, or are you squeezing skiing on on the weekend during a business trip? What kind of transportation will you have? This info would help frame the discussion a bit. Lots of good choices. The "best" choice, however, will depend to some extent on timing & logistics.

Also, the areas here pretty much rely on mother nature for snow. So, depending on the year, things can be great all over, crappy all over, or very variable. Variable can mean one area has tons of snow and another nearby area is full of rocks, dirt & plants. If your itinerary allows, you might want to finalize your plans at a much later date - once the snowfall situation is known.

For some reasonably accurate/reliable info, check out
Ski & Snowboard America Pacific Northwest and British Columbia

As has been mentioned, virtually all the areas are better during the week. Weekend crowds can make the areas closer to Seattle miserable relative to mid week when lines are usually a minute or two long. Also worth noting, both Stevens and Snoqualmie have significant night skiing operations.

[ October 25, 2003, 10:43 PM: Message edited by: spindrift ]
post #11 of 17
If you have a full day or 2 to ski and it's raining at Stevens or Crystal head over to http://www.missionridge.com/ It's a pretty cool ski area. More of a local ski area, shorter lift lines on weekends , but slower chairs. Great grooming and buffed out snow. Can have awesome powder, rare but awesome. Diferent weather because it's on the east side of the Cascade Mountains. It's sunny over there.

[ October 26, 2003, 11:35 PM: Message edited by: NordtheBarbarian ]
post #12 of 17
Crystal remains my overall favorite in the Seattle area, although I have never skied Baker. Just the view of Rainier from the top (on a clear day- not necessarily very common!!!) is worth the trip! The most variety of terrain, too. My first time skiing in the west was there 21 years ago, so it is a sentimental favorite for me as well. On a weekday, even in great weather with new snow, it is relatively empty (compared to here in Colorado, anyway). I like the drive out there, too- you feel like you are light years away from the rest of the world, yet I could get there from my house in about an hour and a half.

DP (formerly from Seattle)
post #13 of 17
Your best bet is to just check the conditions a week or so before your trip and then make your decision. Depending on the weather conditions at the time it may help with your choice.

Check the NWSR.COM for skier reports to find out how the slopes really are, and not from the resorts themselves.

Let us know where you end up going and how you liked it....
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all for all the information. I will be in Seattle on business Monday to Friday, hope to fly in Friday before and ski Saturday and Sunday. Then maybe a little night skiing during the week and then ski the next Saturday and fly out Sunday. I will have a rental car and don't mind a 2 hour drive if required.

So tell me a little more about "sierra cement". I do not own powder skiis, only my beloved Volant T-3's. Are they fat enough? Or should I be looking at renting some powder skis. To the locals in the area would you drive to Crystal or take one of the busses? Also what can I expect temperature wise? I will be there the first week of march.
post #15 of 17
The T3's should be fine. The snow can be wet and heavy, but like anywhere else, you can get a nice light powder day if you are lucky. I would use what you have, and if conditions warrant it you can always rent demos on the mountain.

I have never taken the bus, but it might be a good idea to spare the driving. Weather is very variable that time of year. temperatures can vary from anywhere in the 50's to teens, but is usually fairly mild. Don't forget your goretex!

[ October 28, 2003, 11:17 AM: Message edited by: dp ]
post #16 of 17
The T3 would be a poor choice for a PNW ski, however if you plan to ski groomers, you should be ok. If you plan to explore, you will want something burlier. "Powder skis" is really a misnomer for this region, as a fat ski is really the workhorse of most quivers out here.
post #17 of 17
This is the type of conditions you may have to put up with on a typical March day. March has some of the best days of the season and last year it was the snowiest month of the year, as it is many years. The snow is NOT always wet as some may suggest....tempratures usually run from the upper 20s to upper 30s and anytime it goes above freezing then you need to worry about heavy snow, but still it isn't that bad unless it rains.

This picture was taken March 10, 2002.
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