Washington State

Where to Ski with Kids in Washington State

All those rainy days have an upside, too. In winter, Washington State families typically enjoy a long, snowy season of skiing with kids—not to mention snowboarding and tubing. Even if you don’t (yet) enjoy any of the above sports, there’s always the option of making a snowman or two with your toddler. All the better if a lovely lodge is nearby, so you can run inside for a cup of hot chocolate or bowl of chili after a day on skis.

Here are Washington State’s winter destinations and their kid-friendly aspects – from cheap and inexpensive cross-country ski trails to upscale snowboarding and skiing resorts, along with ski camps, lessons, lodges and daycares. Unfortunately, COVID-19 decimated most kids’ ski resort daycares in Washington; a similar occurrence happened at Oregon ski resorts, too. So BYOB (bring your own babysitter), put ’em on mini skis, or leave younger children at home. However, there are a few options for families—particularly in Eastern Washington.

Where to Ski with Kids near Seattle  

If you hope to ski with kids near Seattle, prepare for a bit of a drive—and don’t forget the chains. We lack a nearby ski resort that Portland has with Mt. Hood, but you can still explore popular options such as The Summit at Snoqualmie and Crystal Mountain.

Stevens Pass Ski Resort
Near: Leavenworth, Washington
Season: December 2- April (TBD) 2023

Iconic ski destination Stevens Pass puts kids ages 3 and up on skis and snowboards, and generations tend to return to play in the powder or go night skiing. There are teen camps, kids ski lessons, kids specials and Nordic ski opportunities. A short drive from Leavenworth, Washington (to the mountain’s East) with plenty of restaurants and cozy lodgings.

The Summit at Snoqualmie
Near: Seattle
Season: December 2, 2022 through TBD, 2023.

This peak family ski experience is the closest to the Seattle metro area, about an hour or so east of Seattle. Here, kids can learn to ski or snowboard on slopes or parks and pipe. The tubing hill is popular with families, too. Stay in a rental or just stay in the city. Unfortunately, no childcare is provided at The Summit at Snoqualmie.

Crystal Mountain
Near: Enumclaw, Washington
Season in 2023: December 2022-TBD 2023.

A sweet little cherry-red gondola (the only one in Washington State, I believe) whisks skiers and daytrippers alike up Crystal Mountain, Washington’s largest ski resort. The Kid’s Club program combines learning and fun; supervision plus two-hour ski lessons for ages 4-12 and snowboarding lessons for ages 7-12. Currently undergoing big renovations, which will be exciting watch come to fruition.

Where to Ski with Kids in Western Washington

These destinations are a significant bit further than the others in Western Washington, and one is just far more unusual (Hurricane Ridge)

Mt. Baker
Near: Bellingham, Washington
Season: November through April 9, 2023.

Slopes here offer multi-week kids’ ski lessons, parent/child or grandparent/child ski lessons. To save money on your ski vacation, look into the family passes. The 31 runs here trend toward the black diamond and intermediate levels — a good spot to go with experienced teens, perhaps. If you’re the parent to a 5th grader, investigate the 5th Grade Ride Free program.

Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area
Near: Port Angeles, Washington
Season: Friday, November 25, 2022 to March 26, 2022

Out on the Olympic Peninsula, this National Park Service site offers opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, children’s tubing and ranger-guided snowshoe walks. The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is a nice place to warm up and learn about the region.

Where to Ski with Kids in Central Washington

White Pass is likely the most recognizable names on our list of family-friendly ski resorts in the Central Cascade range. But parents in the know also seek out cross-country skiing options just over the passes in and around Leavenworth and Winthrop.

White Pass
Near: Packwood, Washington

Just to the east of Mt. Hood en route to Yakima, this 6,500-foot peak offers kids ski lessons plus an 18-kilometer Nordic network, tubing, and a day lodge at 4,500 feet. Walk-in lessons are available too, for kids age 4 and up. 

Leavenworth Trails at Leavenworth Sports Club
Near: Leavenworth, Washington

More than 26k of beginner-friendly Nordic and snowshoe trails wind through, past and around the uber-cute Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth. It’s a nice place to try skiing or snowshoeing for the first time more than five shops will help you and the kids get set up on skis. In Leavenworth, the ice skating rink is fun for the whole family too, along with and tubing.

Cross-Country Skiing in Leavenworth; Photo courtesy of Sleeping Lady Resort
Cross-Country Skiing in Leavenworth; photo courtesy of Sleeping Lady Resort

Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort
Near: Wenatchee, Washington
Ski season: December 1, 2022-March 26, 2023 (or so; sometimes weekends only)

Novice through advanced skiers enjoy that dry-side powder, and this Eastern Washington mountain’s 36 runs and 2,000 acres of trails and chutes, plus kids ski lessons. For children who don’t want to ski,there’s the Kids Club, which combines just-right portions of snow-play indoor supervision and hot chocolate. One of Washington State’s few options for ski resort childcare, for children 6 months through 7 years old.

Methow Valley Sport Trails Association
Near: Winthrop, Washington

More than 120 miles of cross-country ski trails, with many very exciting family-friendly features for skiing parents, grandparents and kids. For example, kids 17 and under ski free. Another cool feature: the keep-em-engaged StorySki loops that slowly reveal a picture book as kids ski along the 1k trail, and a fun obstacle course at the Town Trailhead in Winthrop, Washington.

Loup Loup Ski Bowl
Near: Twisp, Washington
December 3, 2022-TBD 2023

Kids equipment rental, a tube slide area and tots lessons make this low-key introduction to winter sports. More than 20k of groomed tracks for cross-country skiers and 1,240 vertical feet with 10 cut runs for downhill skiers. Bonus: A pass bought here gets you into 8 more small resorts in Washington, BC, Idaho and Nevada.

Lake Chelan Nordic Ski Club at Echo Valley Ski Area
Near: Chelan, Washington

Save money, ski with kids for cheap. At Echo Ridge near Chelan, kids 17 and under ski free. More than 25 miles of groomed skate and classic x-country ski trails can be found at this U.S. Forest Service facility co-run by the Chelan Ranger District and Lake Chelan Nordic Ski Club. Because trails are located on ridgetops, they’re generally above the fog layer that settles in the valleys. Soak up a little sun.

Echo Valley Ski and Tubing Area
Near: Chelan, Washington

The laid-back, non-profit Echo Valley’s Family Ski Area has four-lane snow tubing runs and supply special tubes for a rapid ride. The area runs three rope tows, and one lift for skiing families and snowboarders. Old-school Washington ski fun with kids, like the equivalent of a roller-rink night.

Where to Ski with Kids in Eastern Washington 

Eastern Washington’s sunny skies are a great combo when considering skiing with kids, along with Spokane’s family-friendly attractions and food. You’ll also find sweet, nonprofit-run snowplay destinations.

Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park
Near: Spokane, Washington

A mere half-hour from Spokane takes you up into a great family-friendly Washington State ski resort with lots of snow play opportunities. Tube, ski, snowboard; ride the lift or head for the terrain park. Enroll the kids in one of the children’s ski programs. In 2022-2023, make Friday night reservations for Club Shred for kids ages 4-10. Children get ski instruction, then build snow forts, play games, make crafts, watch movies, and enjoy a kids-only dinner.

49 Degrees N. Mountain Resort
Near: Spokane, Washington

Nordic, downhill and snowboarding, plus a terrain park for skiing with kids in Washington State, plus children’s group ski lessons and one-on-one ski lesson options. It takes a bit of digging, but you can also reserve spots at the an on-site daycare for kids ages 2-6 with half- and full-day options. The Li’l Cub Private Lesson(Ages 2-4) packages up a 1-hour lesson, lift, rental, and all day daycare for $169.

Bluewood Ski Area
Near: Walla Walla, Washington
Season: December 8, 2022 – TBD, 2023

Bluewood is the second-highest base elevation in the state, but still serves the tot crowd, while teens like skiing and snowboarding the 24 trails and three terrain parks. Other all-inclusive lessons offer packages with instruction, lift ticket, rental skis and helmet for younger kids skiing, and ski/snowboard packages for teens.

Sitzmark Ski Area
Near: Tonasket, Washington

Ski with kids at Sitzmark’s 80 acres include a double chairlift, rope tow, bunny hill and terrain park. There’s also a ski and snowboard school (6 week classes), and it’s open Thursday through Monday–but usually doesn’t open until January or so through March.

Badger Mountain Ski Area
Near: Waterville, Washington
Season: January 2023-March 2023

A volunteer-run ski area in Eastern Washington with limited hours, but fine if you’re in the area or want a snowy-day experience for younger children.

Sno-Parks with Kids in Washington State

Look for nonmotorized Sno-Park trails if you’re not snowmobiling—you’ll find quieter paths for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing with kids.

Washington State Sno-Parks

Enjoy a variety of winter activities (for cheap) in the Washington State Sno-Parks; trails and play areas welcome Nordic ski, snowshoe and tube enthusiasts of all ages in winter. Sno-Parks differ in trail maintenance, as some are groomed, while others are backcountry-only—be sure you know what you’re getting into if with less-experienced kids.

Note: These Washington ski areas haven’t vetted by me recently; do your research and take note of any hazards or concerns, particularly when skiing with kids. As always, watch for updates and changes to ski resort openings and closures before packing the family into the sedan or SUV. Pack appropriate winter-weather apparel, your skis and mittens; don’t forget to check road conditions on Washington State passes before heading out with your tot or tween.

Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.