Armed with an Indy Pass and full gas tank, the SnoCountry Road Trip team heads to the Pacific Northwest to explore what the state of Washington has to offer.
The Indy Pass is good for two free days at each mountain, plus 25% off the daily rate for a third day.
Our journey begins at Hurricane Ridge,westernmost skiing in U.S. Half-hour from Port Angeles and lodging, two-and-a-half from Seattle -- and within Olympic National Park boundaries -- a steep, cheap, no-frills hill. Upside-down with the lodge at the top, 200 acres with 600 of vertical, and not much grooming. The mainpoma serves steep terrain, including precipitous hike-to bowl. Also two rope tows. Open weekends and holidays, $45 a day plus park fee. From the 5,240-foot summit, views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Pacific.
Head south for five hours to White Pass,between Mt. Ranier and Mt. St. Helens. Unpretentious resort with 1,400 acres and 2,000 vertical. A high-speed and two fixed-grips on front slopes that split out lower gentle runs from gnarly blacks off the 6,500-ft summit. Or spend the day in Paradise Basin with blues and greens, lots of trees, and a mid-mountain lodge. Night skiing. For overnights, a hotel at the base, more a half-hour away in Packwood or farther in Yakima. Olympians Steve and Phil Mahre grew up on White Pass.
Hop on Highway 12 for a three-hour ride to Mission Ridge on the western slope of Cascades. Plenty to discover with 2,100 acres and 2,200 vertical, and trail mix tilted toward more difficult. Begins with easy stuff at the base, then two fixed-grip and one high-speed ervesa myriad of groomers, hike-to bowls, and sharp chutes all over the off 6,820-foot summit. Wed.-Sat. night skiing. Planned expansion under review. Mt. Ranier looms in distance. Overnight in Wenatchee 12 miles away.
The final drive crosses the Columbia River basin and up to 49 Degrees North-- so named for the latitude of the Canada-U.S. border about 50 miles to the north. Open Friday through Tuesday. With 1,500 acres and 1,850 vertical and six chairs, touts as a top family area. Layout tilts 75-25 to less difficult. Novices can run top to bottom from either of two summits. Glades dominate blacks. Stay overnight at short-terms on access road or in Chewelah eight miles away, where downhill skiing began in 1936.