If you’re looking to strap on your skis or snowboard, you can be at three different resorts within two hours’ drive. The Summit at Snoqualmie (1001 SR 906; summitatsnoqualmie.com) is just an hour east of Seattle and offers something for every ability level, from gentle green runs to the wild back bowls of Alpental. Stevens Pass (*Summit Stevens Pass, Hwy 2, Skykomish; stevenspass.com), a local’s favorite about two hours northeast, features night skiing until 10pm. And Crystal Mountain (*33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd; crystalmountainresort.com), Washington’s largest ski area, features beautiful views of nearby Mount Rainier. Skiers and nonskiers alike can reach the summit via gondola, where the Summit House Restaurant dishes up classic Pacific Northwest fare at 6,872 feet high.
Is sledding more your style? Hop on a giant inner tube at The Summit’s tubing center or bring your own to Hyak Sno-Park (snowrec.org/sno-parks), where visitors can find plenty of hills for sledding thrills.
You can also take in the landscape at a slower pace. For a relaxing snowshoeing trek, visit Mt. Rainier National Park (nps.gov/mora), where rangers lead snowshoe tours from the Jackson Visitor Center at Paradise. Along the 1.8-mile trip, learn how the flora and fauna in the park adapt during the winter. All the area ski resorts also offer snowshoe rentals and miles of trails to explore.
Some hikes, though, are better left for warmer months. Cougar Mountain offers plenty of off-season opportunities to go for a stroll. Try the Coal Creek Falls Trail (wta.org), which passes by cave holes (left over from the mining days of this area) and a waterfall on an easy 2.5-mile loop.