By No Vacation Required, on December 23, 2013

Skiing the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is widely recognized for being home to hip cities that bump up against rugged coastlines, gorgeous wilderness, and towering peaks. It’s the latter that we have to thank for a lesser-known benefit of spending time in the PNW: access to great skiing and snowboarding.

All of the following ski destinations are within two hours of Seattle, Portland, or Vancouver, BC. That means that you can pick a hotel in the city and still spend the day on the slopes.

Skiing near Seattle

The Summit at Snoqualmie/Alpental Ski Resort is less than an hour from Seattle – so close that it’s practically an exurb. In addition to offering four unique base areas for skiers and snowboarders, they also have a cross-country, telemark, and snowshoe center. When we need a quick dose of powder, this is where we head.

A backcountry ski cabin in Washington State

Steven’s Pass Ski Resort is two hours away from Seattle, but the little extra time in the car (or ski bus) pays off. The ski resort and nearby nordic center (our personal favorite in the area) combine to offer some of Washington state’s best downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. We love to spend the day exploring Steven’s network of cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.

A favorite among locals, Crystal Mountain, is less than two hours from Seattle and sits on the Northeast edge of Mt. Rainier National Park. It holds the title of largest and highest lift-serviced ski resort in the state and boasts an impressive 50+ named runs.

Skiing near Portland

Just an hour and a half outside of Portland sits the iconic and historic Timberline Lodge. While the lodge alone takes up the spotlight (and understandably so!), the skiing and snowboarding are the real stars of the show. Timberline has 41 runs and the Northwest’s largest vertical terrain. With so much ground to cover, you may just decide to stay the night and let those burning legs recover before doing it all again the next day.

Viewfinder Tip: Don’t want to travel with skis? Consider renting when you arrive in your gateway city.

Mt. Hood Meadows is another great option for skiing near Portland. In just 90 minutes you can be climbing the mountain on one of Meadow’s 11 lifts. The ski area sprawls across the mountain’s sunny, wind-protected southeast side and offers something for all skill levels.

Skiing near Vancouver

If you were among the few people who weren’t aware that Vancouver, British Columbia had a renowned ski area nearby, the 2010 Winter Olympics likely put you in the know. The cameras are gone, but some of the best skiing in the world remains. Whistler Blackcomb – the largest ski resort in North America – boasts a whopping 200 trails spanning all skill levels.

Nordic skiing near Vancouver

If, like us, cross-country skiing is your thing, then Whistler Olympic Park is your spot. The venue was built for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, so you can expect gorgeous, well-maintained trails, and top-notch services. As fanatics, we consider the Whistler Olympic Park to be a very special place.

After skiing, shredding, or exploring Whistler Blackcomb’s lauded trails, you can relax (or party your head off) in Whistler Village. The picturesque and often bustling village is right at the base of the lifts and home to a myriad of shops, restaurants, and hotels. In fact, one of the hotels we’ve stayed at is so close to the ski area that we fear skiers might not be able to stop before hitting the hotel’s hot tubs.

Where is your favorite place to ski?