By Ryan Murray
My personal odyssey to ski every public mountain recreation area in Washington State took 34 years. Here are my brief notes about each one.
- Badger Mountain Ski Hill (Waterville): A lift ticket and lunch special (burger, chips, and drink) will run you less than $20, making it the least expensive lunch and ski in the state. Perfect rope tow to take the kids on to learn and the T-bar can be fun if the snow is cooperative.
- Bluewood (Dayton): A fun hill with some good tree skiing. One visit I witnessed a convoy of off-roading trucks trying to get to the top of the hill just outside the ski area boundary. You never know what you’ll come across on local hills.
- Crystal Mountain (Enumclaw): Great bowls. This is the largest ski area in Washington by acreage.
- Echo Valley Ski & Tubing Area (Manson/Lake Chelan): The second-best terrain served by a poma lift in Washington.
- Hurricane Ridge Ski & Snowboard Area (Port Angeles): A long haul from Spokane to get to a little ski area. It boasts a long platter pull deep in Olympic National Park with some great views.
- Leavenworth Ski Hill (Leavenworth): A couple rope tows, but the real draw is the faux Bavarian town après-ski.
- Loup Loup Ski Bowl (Omak): I’m pretty sure they send out high school kids with chain saws to cut down trees and leave them along the edge of the hill because I have never seen so many jumps lining a run.
- Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort (Wenatchee): With an average snowfall of 200 inches and 300 days a year of sunshine, there’s often not a lot of snow cover in some spots and I usually hit a rock or two. Free stone grind! The terrain is surprisingly respectable on a good day.
- Mt. Baker Ski Area (Bellingham): Epic snowfall. They had so much of the white stuff in the ‘98/’99 ski season they had to cut into the snow to allow room for the chair lift. It’s a strange feeling akin to scuba diving when your chair lift goes under the level of the snow surface. They had 1,140 inches of snow that year, which is enough snow to keep most places running for years.
- Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Park (Spokane): The terrain park acreage is huge. And there are four to choose from. When I was there, one of the table top jumps dropped off on the hill behind it, and if you fully committed to the needed speed, you’d get absurdly-huge air.
- Stevens Pass Ski Resort (Skykomish): Some great terrain up the 7th Heaven Chair, just look out for the crowds on the weekend.
- Sitzmark Ski Hill (Tonasket): Largely a beginner area. Consequently, I could find untracked powder after lunch visible from the lift.
- The Summit at Snoqualmie (Snoqualmie Pass): This is really one pass to four separate ski areas (Hyak, Ski Acres, Snoqualmie, and Alpental). You can listen to the sound of skis scraping over ice echoing into the night with the most illuminated acres in the state. The real draw is Alpental, which has some of the best lift-served backcountry skiing around. After a short walk to Denny peak you can ski down from what feels like the top of the world.
- White Pass Ski Area (White Pass/Packwood): Nice intermediate terrain serviced from a high-speed quad. I heard the area was built by world cup racers, and you can tell from the trails.
- 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort (Chewelah): This Northeast Washington ski area is growing, and the best thing is that it has a small-town hill feel with big terrain. I’ve always had fantastic powder whenever I go.
Originally published in the November-December 2021 issue alongside Ryan Murray’s feature story, “A Quest to Shred Washington’s 15 Ski Mountains.”
3 of the 15 public ski areas in Washington State: Mission Ridge (left), 49 Degrees North (upper right), and Sitzmark (lower right). // Photos: Ryan Murray
Ryan Murray works as a chemical engineer in Washington State. He enjoys dragging his three kids on adventures and hopes that one day they will realize how much fun they are having. When not playing in the snow, he enjoys hiking and is trying to section hike the Washington stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail.
[Feature photo by Ryan Murray. // Sitzmark Ski Hill]