With two major mountain ranges – the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range – sitting in our backyards, it’s little wonder the Northwest has so many amazing places to ski, snowboard and snowshoe. Yet with over 100 diverse ski areas and terrains to choose from even a local may wonder where to hit the powder. To help we’ve handpicked a half-dozen of our favorites. Read on to learn more.
Mt. Hood, Oregon
Oregon’s highest mountain, Mt. Hood (located about 50 miles southeast of Portland) is home to several ski areas. Mt. Hood Meadows is one of the largest and most popular in the state with 2,150 skiable acres that offer miles of Alpine skiing, snowboarding, Nordic skiing, night skiing and snowshoeing as well as some of Oregon’s best cruising intermediate terrain. Note: There are no overnight accommodations at Meadows.
For more winter adventures head to Mt. Hood SkiBowl, about 12 miles southwest of Meadows. With a base elevation of 3,600-feet, SkiBowl has 960 acres for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, snowmobiling and zip-lining. There’s also a winter adventure park perfect for little snowbirds. SkiBowl is the only places in the Northwest where you can go Cosmic Tubing, which is as much festive, glow-in-the-dark fun as the name implies.
The highest elevation resort on Mt. Hood – 6,000-feet – Timberline has the longest ski season in North America and roughly 1,415 acres of terrain for skiing and snowboarding. Not to miss is the grand Timberline Lodge, a 55,000 square foot ski lodge. This National Historic Landmark is an Oregon treasure, built by hand in the 1930s.
Mt. Bachelor, Oregon
Reach even greater elevations at Mt. Bachelor Ski Area, located on the eastern section of Oregon’s Central Cascades about 22 miles west of Bend. At 9,065-feet, Bachelor is one of a few resorts in the Northwest where you can ski from the mountain’s summit. The light, dry snow and 4,318 acres of diverse terrain will delight skiers and snowboarders. Other fun snow-based activities at Bachelor are snow tubing, guided snowshoe hikes and sled dog rides.
Mt. Rainier, Washington
On the northeastern flank of Mt. Rainier, about 80 miles southeast of Seattle, is Crystal Mountain Resort. This family-friendly gem, extensively updated and renovated over the last ten years, offers snow enthusiasts a 4,400-foot base, an average of 486 inches of power each year and some 2,600 skiable acres. Winter activities include Alpine skiing, snowboarding, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. Not to miss is the Mt. Rainier Gondola, which whisks riders up 2,456 vertical feet to the summit for wide-angle views of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding Cascade Range. The resort is also home to excellent on-site lodging and dining options, including the highest elevation restaurant in Washington State, the Summit House.
Mt. Baker, Washington
A mecca for those who love fresh powder, the Mt. Baker Ski Area (base elevation 3,500 feet) averages some of the highest snow fall in the world, about 659 inches each year. Love snowboarding? The ski area, which is located in the north of Washington State about 31 miles east of the city of Bellingham, is home to the Legendary Banked Slalom, the largest snowboard race in the world. Families should note that while daily lessons for kids are available, there’s no on-site day care.
Sun Valley, Idaho
The birthplace of destination skiing, Central Idaho’s Sun Valley is a vibrant resort town and ski area that offers 2,154 acres sprawled across two mountains and roughly 120 bluebird days each season. On Bald Mountain (aka “Baldy”), elevation 9,150 feet, experienced skiers and snowboarders will find a 3,450-foot vertical drop as well as a variety of challenging bowls and glades off the peak. Dollar Mountain, elevation 6,638 feet, is a beginner’s dream with gentle, well-groomed slopes. Not to worry Nordic skiers and snowshoers, you’ll find over 40 kilometers of perfectly groomed trails. Après-ski, enjoy a treatment at Sun Valley’s luxurious spa and/or some fine dining and shopping.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Idaho
Nestled in the Selkirk Mountains high above the scenic town of Sandpoint in Northern Idaho, Schweitzer Mountain, elevation 6,400 feet, and its ski area features 2,900 acres of varied terrain for all levels of skiing and snowboarding. There’s also 32 kilometers of Nordic trails for cross-country, snowshoeing and snow-biking during the winter season. Visitors be sure to explore Schweitzer Village’s on-site spa, restaurants and shops. In the 2016-2017 season, look for the impressive new 13,000-square-foot summit lodge, which will offer mountain views, eateries and lodging.