Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

luging sledding tubing washington

Slip sliding away! Luge, sled, tube across Washington

From snow bowls way, way out of town to hills here at home, sledding and sliding is timeless winter fun

Why wait for the next Snow Stormageddon to hit the greater Seattle area? Pack up your tubes, toboggans or slides and make your way out of town (or way, way out of town) to some truly super slipping fun while you wait for the white stuff to hit the hills in and around Puget Sound.

Let’s start way, way out of town, where the snow is more reliable throughout the winter months, and work our way back to in-city sledding.

Way, way out

First stop: Okanogan National Forest. A 4-hour drive from Seattle will take you a little east of Winthrop to the Bear Mountain Luge Experience at the Loup Loup Ski Bowl. It’s the first location in the Western U.S. to offer luge sledding for riders 6 and older. After a short introduction to the finer points of luge sledding, participants are transported up the mountain by snowcat and then enjoy exploring more than 12 km of groomed luge trails – truly a fun and unique sledding adventure. 

Heading southwest back toward Seattle, the six-lane tubing hill at the Echo Valley Ski Area is 8 miles from downtown Chelan. Combine a winter weekend at Lake Chelan with a fun day trip up to Echo Valley for some excitement on the slopes. Tubes are provided. Recommended for kids from 3 to 99!

Way out

Continuing southwest, Lt Michael Adams Tubing Park is located on the northern edge of Leavenworth. A ticket purchased from the booth on the hill will get you a tube and six runs down the 100-foot hill. There is no minimum age or height requirement, and a tow rope pulls you back to the top for your next slide.

Out-ish

If your family is looking for some sledding without committing to a drive over the passes in the winter, there are some great spots just off the I-90 corridor. The Summit at Snoqualmie Tubing Park is roughly an hour’s drive from Seattle. Tubing here is one of the most convenient of the commercial sledding options. The tube park has more than 20 lanes for riders and a covered lift takes all the effort out of getting back to the top, making this a full-service experience!

You can purchase tickets for a single session (1 3/4 hours) or an unlimited pass holder ticket. Tickets for riders 45” or taller include a tube (no outside sleds allowed). Kids 44” and under must be accompanied by an adult. There are lots of other places to sled and tube within a reasonable drive of Seattle. Check out our article “Places to go and play in the slow.” 

DIY

Is your family a do-it-yourself pack? Go a little past the summit and try the first clearing at the Cabin Creek Sno Park. Located off I-90 at Exit 63, this popular cross-country skiing site also features a rough sledding hill popular with young skiers taking a break from the trails. Parking requires a Northwest Forest Pass and Sno-Park sticker. About 150 yards from the trailhead, you’ll come to a clearing. The sledding hill is to the right and up. Bring your own sled and be aware of skiers on the trail.

In-city sledding

In the Seattle metro area, we know snow is an unpredictable winter treat – growing up in Ballard,  I hold onto only a few significant memories of the city as a powdery playground. December 1996 was one of the best, all the kids in our neighborhood dug sleds out from the depths of our garages and trudged off each morning in search of the best slopes.

Sledding in the city is one of the most accessible and least expensive ways to make the most of a snow day. Your sled can be store-bought or improvised with a piece of plastic (maybe the lid of a storage bin) or cardboard. A metal baking sheet also works well for little ones.

In-city precautions

The sight of a steep slope anywhere can excite, but don’t let the prospect of flying downhill like a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip outweigh the safety of the situation. These tips will help keep injuries at bay:

  • Avoid streets with cars parked along the sides and intersections that might still have vehicle traffic through them. 
  • If you find a spot in a park or out in the woods, walk the hill first. Look for hidden obstacles and make sure there is enough space between trees to navigate safely. 
  • Sleds are not known for their precision handling. 
  • Riders need to have enough room to safely bail out if they start heading toward obstacles. 
  • Tube with your youngest riders in your lap if a hill looks too daunting.
  • Dress for the wet and cold and bring extra gloves for frozen fingers (both little AND big).

Remember, what goes down must come up… if it wants to slide again. All that hiking up a hill to slide back down will build up an appetite. Bring snacks and a big thermos of your favorite warm beverage.

A hint from a former city kid

When those flakes do fall in the city, and the streets shut down as the snow piles up, the best spot we found back in 1996 was the top of Lower Woodland Park, just over the footbridges from the zoo. With the right sled, and enough snow on the ground, you can make it all the way down to the tennis courts.

More on Seattle’s Child:

“Let’s go sledding! Places to go and play in the slow.”

About the Author

Nils Dahlgren

Nils Dahlgren is a freelance writer and father of three based in Seattle. He also blogs at awesomesolodad.com