Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

ski areas: chair lift passing snow-covered fir trees at Stevens Pass

Great day at Stevens Pass, with gray skies and heavy snow. (iStock photo)

Bring on the snow! Best ski areas you can drive to from Seattle

Snow has arrived and ski resorts are opening for the 2023-24 season. Here is the latest.

Important: Call 511 for highway conditions/closures before planning a trip to the mountains.

When we get to the dreariest part of winter, when it’s gloomiest and coldest, a certain subset of Seattle people perks up. They are skiers and snowboarders, and they know that the chilly rain falling on us down here likely means snow up high, which means it’ll soon be time to suit up and go play in our beautiful mountains. Here is a roundup of some of the ski areas where Seattle families frolic through their winter weekends. (For you cross-country skiers, here are 8 places for you to go. Here are places to take the kids sledding or tubing.)

All driving times are estimates based on leaving Seattle at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. Lift ticket prices vary based on the day, and when they were purchased. Advance online tickets tend to be cheaper than those bought closer to the day. For many areas, weekends and school breaks are more expensive. Weekdays when school is in session are cheaper.

The Summit at Snoqualmie

Summit Central, Summit West, Silver Fir, Alpental and the popular Tubing park are open on various days. Check the website for details.

Tubing Park open for winter 2023/2024.

Driving time from Seattle: 1 hour

The closest ski resort to Seattle is an amalgamation of four distinct areas, each with its own challenges. Most of the beginner areas are at Summit Central.

Size: 1,994 ski-able acres, 25 lifts, 2,280 vertical feet

Also offers: Nordic skiing.

Rentals available: Skis, snowboards, performance skis, Nordic skis, snowshoes.


Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass is open for 2023/2024. Stevens Pass base is higher up than the Summit at Snoqualmie base, so it tends to be colder, which in this area, usually means better conditions.

Driving time from Seattle: 2 hours

Size: 1125 ski-able acres, 10 lifts, 1800 vertical feet

Also offers: Nordic skiing, free snow-play area

Rentals available: Skis, snowboards, Nordic skis, snowshoes


Crystal Mountain

Amid a $100 million renovation project, Crystal Mountain is open for skiing and snowboarding.

The highest and biggest lift-served ski area in Washington, Crystal Mountain is usually first to open and last to close. If you plan to go once it’s fully open, you need to hit the website in time to snag advance tickets.

Driving time from Seattle: 2 hours

Size: 2,600 skiable acres, 10 lifts, 3,100 vertical feet

Rentals available: Skis, snowboards, snowshoes, some clothing.


Mission Ridge

Mission Ridge is open. See website for times.

Mission Ridge’s location on the east slope of the Cascades means that it can offer two things that are rare on west-slope mountains. One is dry powder snow, of a sort that many skiers covet. The other is sunshine.

Driving time from Seattle: 3 hours

Size: 2,000 skiable acres, 4 lifts, 2,250 vertical feet.

Rentals available: skis, snowboards, snowshoes.


Mount Baker

Open every day of the week. See website for more details.

This area, east of Bellingham, happens to be positioned in one of the world’s snowiest places. Its average yearly snowfall is 682 inches, which is 50 percent higher than the average at the Summit at Snoqualmie. Mount Baker Ski Area is a family-run business, a rarity in the corporate-dominated ski industry, and the local ownership shows in its down-to-earth, quirky culture.  Check current conditions here.

Driving time from Seattle: 3 hours

Size: 1,000 skiable acres, 8 lifts, 1,500 vertical feet.

Rentals available: Basic and premium skis and snowboards.


White Pass

Now open. See the website for lodging, dining, and hours of operation.

More accessible from Tacoma than from Seattle, this resort on a breathtakingly lovely road offers many options for those who wish to play.

Driving time from Seattle: 3 hours

Size: 1,500 skiable acres, 8 lifts, 2,000 vertical feet.

Also offers: Nordic skiing, snowshoe tour, tubing hill.

Rentals available: Skis, snowboards, Nordic skis, snowshoes.

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Fiona Cohen