Snow Day Fun Close to Seattle

seattle vacation rentals, snow activities in seattle Sarah Vallieu

Looking to have some fun in the snow?

Seattle is not known for its snow—in truth an inch or two will close down the city. Literally. With that said, Seattle’s got a vibrant ski and snowboard community, and several ski areas within a few hours of downtown Seattle. Even those of us who refuse to strap on a pair of skis enjoy partaking in a winter wonderland once in a while.

Seattle has some fantastic, and educational, snowshoe hikes within two hours (normal driving times) from city center. These hikes are big kid friendly, but if you’ve got littler ones, or prefer riding versus hiking when it comes to your snow day fun, I’ve included some tubing hills close by as well.

First off, for safety: Make sure your personal vehicle or rental car is equipped for mountain driving. Wear layers, and stay away from cotton as when it gets wet, it stays wet, making it easy to become chilled. A waterproof outer layer, even a shell, will keep you comfortable. Light hiking boots or tennis shoes easily fit in the snowshoes used on the guided hikes. Use wool or polypropylene socks –they are going to make you the happiest. Also, for our lowland or warm region guests: Snow is serious business. If you are unfamiliar with the area, terrain, or abilities, do not go off on your own. Utilize a guided snowshoe walk, check weather conditions, and be safe.

Mount Rainier National Park for Snowshoeing and Tubing

Paradise is the place to be on winter weekends! The Paradise Visitors Center at Mount Rainer National Park can be a base of operations for both tubing and snowshoeing. The Paradise Snowplay area is open weekends through the end of March with a tubing hill (tubes or flexible plastic sliders only-no bladed sleds), and that coincides with FREE ranger-led snowshoe walks from the Paradise Visitor Center that leave at 11am and 1:30pm. Hikes are 1.8 miles long (a perfect distance, really) and are suitable for eight years of age and up. The best thing about this? Snowshoes are provided.

Two hours is our max drive time, but this can easily make a long day trip. Leave Seattle by 9am, arrive to Paradise by 11 or so, enjoy a day in a beautiful wonderland, and head back to the city at about 5pm. The visitor’s center does have food for sale. As this is within the National park, a entry fee is charged. Also, chains are required for any car driving into the park in winter.

Tubing and Snowshoeing Options at Snoqualmie Summit.

seattle vacation rentals winter activitiesAbout 60 miles east of Seattle, right on Snoqualmie Pass, is the Hyak Snow Park. It has five sledding hills that are grooming several times a week, as well as cross country ski runs, snowshoeing trails (see caution above) and an open area for just general snow fun. The big draw of this area is that it is FREE to sled. The parking however, is not, and you will need a Discover Pass and a Snow Park day permit (currently $30 per car). It is also self catered. There are bathrooms here, but not much else, so you need to pack in your own snow gear, sleds and food. If this sounds a bit too rustic, backtrack the car just a few miles west to the Summit Tubing Center at Snoqualmie, with 12 groomed tube lanes, a motorized tow line, and a café on site. They charge by the two hour session, which will run you $25 a person, and they provide the tubes.

For snowshoeing, the US Forest Service guides six different snowshoe hikes in the area around Snoqualmie Summit. They ask for a suggested donation of $25 a person. Hikes occur Saturday and Sundays, and can be tailored for kids, photography, etc. Snowshoes are provided. Reservations are required. 

Snowshoeing at Crystal Mountain

Looking for a little bit fancier of an experience? For snowshoeing only (no tubing at this location) check out Crystal Mountain, about an hour southeast of Seattle. Every Saturday, through the end of March, Crystal offers Snowshoe and Dinner, or Snowshoe and Sip events. A little pricer, at $65 a head, but a unique and memorable experience. Start your hike with a chairlift ride up to the top of the Bullion Basin area and a two hour walk through beautiful forests, with epic views. Return to dinner, or select evenings, a featured winery. Snowshoes are provided and reservations are required.

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