Whether searching for secret powder stashes or ripping down steep couloirs, the Central Cascades offer terrain for all levels of ski and snowboard enthusiasts. With three local-favorite resorts within a short drive of Bellevue, there’s no need to sacrifice city amenities to embrace the joys of mountain culture. Hit the slopes for a fun day of shredding, then come back to town and lavish in the après-ski life.
Fun on the Slopes
The Summit at Snoqualmie
Drive time from Bellevue: 45 minutes
A little more than half an hour from Bellevue, The Summit at Snoqualmie is a highly popular destination for after-work turns and offers a variety of discounted lift tickets, including afternoon, twilight, and night options, as well as being an Ikon Pass partner.
The resort is divided into four separate base areas; Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central, and Summit East. Each section is known for its own unique offerings and, all combined, they total nearly 2,000 acres of ski terrain.
Known for great powder skiing and backcountry access, Alpental is the go-to spot for those with plank skis and deep dreams. The access is separate from the main Snoqualmie area, so be sure to drive to the correct parking lot which is to the left if exiting off I-90 East.
With a Beginner Lift Ticket option, the Summit West, Central, and East are all great areas for new or novice skiers. But that isn’t to say there isn’t fun to be had for those more advanced folks, too. These zones feature arguably Washington’s best terrain parks for jumps and rails.
Located right off of Interstate 90, The Summit at Snoqualmie is an ideal option for those wanting to make some turns while still having enough energy (and time) to explore other attractions.
Drive time from Bellevue: 1.5 hours
Further north along Highway 2 awaits Stevens Pass, the only western resort included in the Epic Pass. Located at the crest of the Cascades, the conditions here are usually cooler and drier than some other ski areas in Washington, resulting in lighter snow instead of the classic “Cascades concrete.”
According to the resort's website, only 11% of Stevens is beginner terrain, while 54% is intermediate and 35% is advanced/expert. So for those with some experience already under their skis, this is the mountain for you.
While there are a total of 10 lifts, Stevens is divided into two main areas. On the right, there is the Kehr’s Chair and the Double Diamond chairlift, which offers one of the few backcountry gates’ access. Advanced skiers often lap these chairs a few times before dipping into the backside to search for powder in the Mill Valley area. The other side of the mountain offers a few beginner options, as well as more advanced terrain, such as the classic 7th Heaven chairlift, which provides access to Stevens’ iconic steep chutes.
For those newer to snow sports, consider staying closer to the base area, where there are plenty of beginner-friendly runs, as well as the Training Grounds terrain park, where the crew is known to constantly keep the features fresh and fun.
With night lifts operating until 10 p.m., it’s easy to spend a full day exploring the various terrain Stevens Pass has to offer.
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort
Drive time from Bellevue: 2 hours
Don’t forget your camera if you’re hitting Crystal Mountain Resort on a bluebird day! This Ikon Pass partner has some of the most terrain of any ski destination in Washington, as well as incomparable views of Mount Rainier.
Crystal Mountain is organized quite simply and offers an efficient lift and gondola system for accessing the seven green, 18 blue, and more than 20 black or double-black diamond runs.
Basically, the terrain gets more challenging the higher up you go. So if you’re a beginner, sticking closer to the base is your best bet. While for more experienced skiers, you’ll want to head up the mountain via popular chairs such as Northway and Chair 6 for steeper terrain and accessing boundary lines.
Keep in mind that despite the backcountry vibes of some of the powder-filled bowls, you are still technically inbounds, so bootpacking and skinning are not allowed. However, if accessing the backside of the resort, be sure to still have all appropriate avalanche safety equipment.
Between its plethora of terrain and gorgeous scenery, Crystal Mountain is one of the premier ski resorts in Washington. Plus, the resort offers a handful of lift tickets, including discounted beginner, afternoon, and night options.
Your Bellevue Basecamp
Learn to Ski Indoors
Never hit the slopes before? Not sure how to unload off a chairlift? Or have a little one that is a snow-bunny-in-training? Then taking indoor ski lessons at Mini Mountain is a great option.
Teaching folks since 1983, this year-round ski school in Bellevue has the only three rotating carpets in Washington state. Lesson packages are available for all ages and offered in increments ranging from single day to package deals. Plus, the facility offers professional boot fittings, as well as gear rentals.
Gear to Go
With heavy, wet snow being a famous feature of Washington skiing, you’d better be sure your bases are waxed and ready for the mountain. Fortunately, both Bellevue’s REI and Sturtevant’s offer tune-ups to get your gear winter-ready.
Don’t have your own gear? Sturtevant’s also offers rentals, including cross-country equipment and snowshoes.
Take a Ride through Ski History
For those whose legs need a rest day, check out the Washington State Ski & Snowboard Museum. Located at Snoqualmie Pass, the museum pays homage to local legends, as well as the state’s ski history and mountain culture. Only open on weekends and with free admission, this is an ideal addition to a daytrip to the Snoqualmie Pass from Bellevue.
Relax & Refuel
After an exhilarating day on the slopes, tuck in to Bellevue’s international dining scene to satiate that post-ski appetite. Melt away the winter chill with an authentic Chinese hot pot selection from The Dolar Shop or Din Tai Fung’s delicious steaming dumplings.
Once you’ve replenished your energy levels, why not explore Bellevue’s lively after-hours scene? Play virtual or mini golf, enjoy top-notch nibbles, and dance the night away at Forum Social House. At the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the heart of downtown Bellevue, Suite Restaurant/Lounge serves up shareable small plates as local DJs dish out lively beats in the hotel’s elegant Wintergarden indoor patio. Nearby, warm by the fire with friends as you enjoy craft cocktails and stunning city views from The Porch, the patio of the glamourous Living Room Bar at the W Bellevue.