Lots of snow, a mountainous backdrop, a trusty sled and a thermos full of hot chocolate are all you need for a day full of Pacific Northwest sledding.
Unfortunately, that first ingredient — probably the most important — is proving a bit elusive this year. Sno-Parks around the region that normally teem with sledders are relatively quiet and barren, as Mother Nature holds off on the white stuff.
But no one’s calling off the sledding season entirely. Some higher-elevation areas still provide nice runs, and plenty of Northwest ski resorts offer tubing hills for those looking for a fix.
Here are a few places with enough snow — natural or manmade — for some truly thrilling sledding and tubing this winter.
1. White River Sno-Park: This scenic Sno-Park on the southeast side of Mount Hood is popular with backcountry skiers, snowshoers and, yes, sledders. This year you’ll have to hike a little farther to get to the snow, but that only means your rides will be well-earned and all the more fun!
2. Skibowl: This ski area in the southern shadow of Mount Hood hasn’t been able to offer much skiing this season so far, but its weekend tubing hill has been bustling. That’s because Skibowl has snow-making equipment, a tube conveyor and what it bills as the world’s only “Cosmic Tubing,” which includes laser lights, black lights, music and more.
3. Summit Ski Area: Another Hood ski area with snow-making capability, Summit has been offering tubing on its hill this winter while it waits for enough snow to get its lift running.
4. Snowblast Tubing Park: Renowned Mt. Bachelor has enjoyed a little more snow than other Cascade mountains this year, and its tubing park is open for fun every weekend.
1. Mount Rainier: Recent reports from this behemoth in the Cascades noted that the snow play and sledding area at Paradise had yet to open for the season. When it does open, flexible sleds, inner tubes and saucers (the three kinds of sleds permitted on the mountain) can have at it.
2. The Summit at Snoqualmie: Open on weekends only, the tubing hill at this ski area boasts 12 lanes, each nearly the length of a football field. Tubers can walk back up the hill or kick back on the surface tow for the ride up.
3. Leavenworth: The Leavenworth Winter Sports Club, a nonprofit dedicated to providing winter recreation activities, may be having a better year than many ski areas — and that goes for tubing, too. The tubing park on the LWSC’s ski hill is currently open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
4. Mt. Spokane: Not only does Mt. Spokane have some snow, but its popular tubing hill, known (by way of the dentist sponsoring it) as the Children’s Choice tubing hill, offers free tubing for kids under 42”. That’s right — free.
And when the snow finally does come to the Northwest at large, we’ll have a lot more options for sledding and tubing. Be sure to check out these other Northwest sledding areas for some wintertime fun.