Mead, Wash.

Like many popular outdoor recreation attractions, Mount Spokane State Park, including Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Area, has experienced increased user visits and crowded conditions and parking lot chaos at times this winter, notes a recent Washington State Parks media statement. In response, the statement says, “Washington State Parks may need to close parts of the park intermittently as parking lots reach capacity” to protect the health of park staff and visitors. Closures when the park reaches capacity had already begun around the holidays and will likely continue throughout the winter on peak visitor days.

Park staff expect the overcrowding and parking lot capacity issues to be mostly outside the downhill ski area, since parking has been more of a challenge for the limited number of parking spots where Nordic skiers, snowshoers, fat bikers, and snowmobilers typically park, and those areas will be closed once the lots are full. Intermittent closures are also likely during big snow events to allow for snow removal equipment to work.

The ski area, on the other hand, “is trying valiantly not to close their parking. They recommend buying day passes in advance because they are limiting entry and can better manage their load that way,” says Meryl Lassen, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission communications consultant. “People need to call the park when they’re heading up, otherwise, they’ll get to the parking lot and it will be closed (or not). We recommend arriving early—and also having a snow-worthy car and emergency supplies with them.”

For updates, call the park at 509-238-4658 and check its website for alerts before heading up. The state park’s alerts can be found at Parks.state.wa.us/549/Mount-Spokane.

“We recommend visitors have a Plan B in case the lots are full,” says Lassen. “And most importantly, we ask people to pack their patience as the 14th essential when heading to the mountain this winter.”

Originally published as “Crowds Lead to Closures at Mount Spokane State Park” in the January-February 2021 issue.