Seattle's Child

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If you want to hit the slopes, be sure to plan ahead. (Photos by Terumi Pong)

Snoqualmie Pass: Tips for family fun before the snow is gone

Maybe we’re in the last few weeks of the snow season at Snoqualmie Pass — or maybe we’ll ski until May 1 again, like last year.

Snoqualmie Pass is predictably unpredictable, and if you’re wanting to find snow in the closest and snowiest place near Seattle, it’s important to hack your visit, like you would a trip to Disneyland.

Plan ahead, plan ahead, plan ahead

If you just show up at the mountain and want to ski, snowboard or snowshoe without a plan, there’s a good chance you will be disappointed. The mountain has become extremely popular in the past couple years, and parks and facilities are dealing with the same shortages that everyone else is dealing with.

So for something like skiing, snowshoeing or tubing at the mountain, where you might need a reservation for both the activity and maybe the gear too, make sure you visit the Summit website and figure out if the activity you want to do is even possible for the day you are looking to go.

Sledding: What you should know

The easiest way to sled at Snoqualmie Pass is to book a tubing session at the Summit because this guarantees a time. At the time of our visit, tickets were $40 for people over 44 inches (includes a tube rental) and $15 for under 44 inches. Each person under 44 inches needs to buddy up with an adult, sledding down the hill in the adult’s lap.

If you have your own sled and want to find a place to play in the snow you need to get a snowpark permit for the Snoqualmie Pass area where there are two popular options: Gold Creek Pond and Hyak Snow Park. (Related: Review of the Hyak experience from a first-time family.)

It’s currently $25 for the day for either snowpark or $50 for the season at Gold Creek or $50+$70 for the season at Hyak Snowpark (you need the combo ticket for Hyak). You can buy these passes online and print them and display them on the front of your vehicle.

If you get a day pass you have to select a date, which makes it all the more important to show up early because parking spots are not guaranteed. Gold Creek Pond has been especially busy. Make sure to park respectfully without blocking the no-parking areas designated for emergency vehicles or in the pullout area along the one-way stretch. Doing so can help ensure that more families get a chance to enjoy the outdoors. Gold Creek Pond has no garbage pickup so be prepared to pack out whatever you bring in (including dog waste).

 

Skiing: Book early

For skiing, the Summit is a little more spread out than other mountain resorts, but it has a few base lodges and diverse terrain. It is great for skiers of all abilities especially, because of its proximity to Seattle.  Lessons usually book up before the winter season starts, so if you are a beginner to this sport, make sure to follow the Summit’s Twitter where they post when season tickets and lessons are available for the upcoming season.  If you are looking for ski tickets you have a variety of options online, and there are discounts for first responders and military families. The Summit also proclaims that it has the most night skiing in the United States — about 600 acres of lighted terrain. 

What if you need gear?

If you don’t have a sled, places like REI, EVO and Alpine Hut have ski and snowshoe rentals in the city and there are a few spots on the mountain where you can rent as well. REI has snowshoe rentals for both kids and grownups at the Hyak Snowpark from Friday through Sunday, and EVO has a new mountain location in Laconia Market that has a variety of rentals, too. Because supply is always questionable these days, it’s important to call ahead to make sure that you can get what you need.

 

Are there places to eat on the mountain?

The newest spot to grab a bite at Snoqualmie Pass is Laconia Market, which just opened up across from Summit West.

They have a handful of picnic tables outside their market space and sell grab-and-go sandwiches, salads, hot and cold drinks, charcuterie plates, as well as snacks and treats you’ll want to reward yourself with after a snowy adventure.

The Summit at Snoqualmie has several lodges that have food, snacks, and indoor/outdoor spaces. You can eat without leaving the ski area if that is your activity for the day. The Commonwealth Restaurant and the food trucks that park near Dru Bru are also popular spots to grab a bite and refreshments after a day of winter activities.

Extend your stay: Where to rest up

The best place to stay near Snoqualmie Pass for families is probably Suncadia Resort. It’s a short 30-minute drive from the mountain and has a swimming pool and hot tub to soak sore muscles after all that skiing and snow play. They also have restaurants, wineries and a spa. Suncadia also received an incredible amount of snow this year and if there is still snow on the ground, there are usually many places to sled around the resort, too.

Whether you make is a snow day or a winter vacation, you’ll have plenty of family-friendly activities to do at Snoqualmie Pass!

Know before you go:

  • Follow the highway advisories and check the weather before you go. Call 511 for the latest information.
  • Bring a winter travel kit with blankets, water, snacks, shovel and a flashlight in case of traffic, wait times or emergencies.
  • Snow tires and chains recommended on particularly icy days and when advised.
  • If the parks are too crowded, have a Plan B and be flexible.

More winter fun:

How to dress and prepare kids for winter outdoor fun (and what to put in the thermos!)

Putting your kids on the ski bus? Here’s what to know

Ski areas you can drive to from Seattle

8 places for cross-country skiing

 

About the Author

Terumi Pong

Terumi Pong is a Seattle family travel writer and phone photographer who grew up in Vancouver, B.C. She is mom to twin boys and a yorkie poo pup named Scout and spends most weekends in the mountains with her family.