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Best Snow In Washington - Right Now And Historically
BY Christopher Steiner

This article and data were updated on January 21, 2022.

ZRankings has tracked the forecasted snowfalls across ski mountains in Washington State for the next 10 days. We have also totaled up what has already fallen in all of those places during the preceding 10 days. Putting those two things together—new snow on the ground and near-term snow that will fall—gives the best picture of where skiers and riders should expect the best conditions in the short term. See the top two graphs below for this vital information, which is updated daily.

Below that, we dive into the nitty gritty historical snowfall data across Washington State's ski hills, along with the geography and physical traits of each mountain—elevation, aspect, and latitude—to address which mountains are the best bets, year after year, for good snow conditions. The best mountains in Washington attract more snow than almost anywhere in the world. Yes, some of those storms are warm and it can rain in the winter, but there's plenty of cold snow, too.

Note: During summer months, these top graphs won't have data as there is no forecasted or recent snow.

Largest Snow Totals In Washington Last 10 Days (inches)
Washington Ski Resorts' Snowfall Potentials, Next 10 Days (inches)
ZRANKINGS MODEL

Washington covers a vast area with a great variety of mountain settings, from 14,000-foot volcanoes in the west to the tail end of the Canadian Rockies in the east. The snow profiles at resorts in this state are diverse. We've ranked the snow at all of Washington's ski resorts right here, using historical averages, standard deviations, latitudes, elevations and slope aspects. In most cases, the data we used for this exercise goes back 50 years. Consider this to be the best list of its kind for Washington State.

In-depth descriptions on snow at each ski resort are below the table


Ski Resorts with Best Snow in Washington

   Resort True
Snow*
Base & Top Elev.
Days w/ more
than 6 inches
Months w/ more
than 90 inches
Months w/ less
than 30 inches
North-facing Terrain
East-facing Terrain
West-facing Terrain
South-facing Terrain
Washington Snow Score
Mt Baker
WA
651" 3589'
to
5089'
26.8% 63.6% 4.9% 50% 25% 25% 0% 84.5 more
Stevens Pass
WA
474" 4061'
to
5845'
18.9% 36.5% 7.6% 50% 10% 10% 30% 66.8 more
Crystal Mountain
WA
413" 4400'
to
6872'
16.7% 29.1% 7.9% 30% 50% 0% 20% 62.3 more
White Pass
WA
380" 4500'
to
6550'
16.0% 25.0% 10.0% 50% 25% 25% 0% 61.0 more
Bluewood
WA
275" 4545'
to
5670'
11.5% 8.0% 25.0% 50% 40% 10% 0% 54.0 more
Snoqualmie
WA
387" 3140'
to
5420'
17.4% 36.5% 13.4% 10% 40% 40% 10% 53.8 more
49 Degrees North
WA
275" 3923'
to
5774'
11.5% 8.0% 25.0% 40% 30% 30% 0% 51.9 more
Mt Spokane
WA
200" 4200'
to
5889'
8.0% 1.0% 40.0% 0% 70% 0% 30% 40.7 more
Mission Ridge
WA
170" 4550'
to
6820'
7.0% 1.0% 50.0% 60% 35% 5% 0% 40.3 more
Loup Loup
WA
150" 4040'
to
5280'
6.0% 0.0% 60.0% 40% 60% 0% 0% 31.9 more

Mt. Baker - Snow Score: 84.5

The undisputed king of snow in North America, many skiers became familiar with Baker decades ago via Powder Magazine, which often featured shots of whipped white landscapes that appeared as if they'd been attacked by a Dairy Queen ice cream machine. On some days at Baker, that is indeed reality, as it sits a spot positioned for prolific lines of storms that come straight off of the Pacific and deposit the kind of moisture quantity—usually in snow form—that also grows the largest trees in the world on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. The ski area averages a ridiculous 651" of snow per season, and rarely sees a month bringing below 30" (4.9% of months). More than 63% of winter months bring more than 90" of snow. Sufficient coverage for skiing at Baker is almost guaranteed by mid-December. By Christmas, the entire resort is open, top to bottom, 90% of the time. The issue with skiing Baker, as anybody who skis the Cascades in general can attest, is rain. It happens, and so does wet snow. But cold storms are the stuff of legend and it's always worth the gamble of a trip to Baker, in our book. Baker's base elevation, even for its northerly latitude, is fairly low, at 3,589 feet. But it's helped by the fact that 50% of its terrain faces north, which helps keep good snow cold and chalky.

Steven's Pass - Snow Score: 66.8

Now part of Vail Resorts' armada, Steven's Pass has been a favorite of hard core Seattle skiers for generations. The ski area averages 474" of snow per year, which puts it in elite company in terms of quantity. It is a Cascade resort, however, and it can see warm precipitation in the winter, so skiers should pack their Gore-Tex on a trip to SP. Good news, half of the ski resort's runs face north, which helps preserve the cold snow when it shows. A solid 36% of winter months bring more than 90" of snowfall, a banner month for most places. Almost 20% of winter days see more than six inches of snowfall. The base elevation of 4,061 feet is about average for the Cascades.

Steven's Pass receives large amounts from Pacific storms.
Steven's Pass can fill up with snow from Pacific-born storms. Credit: Austin Johnson

Crystal Mountain - Snow Score: 62.3

The most popular mountain in Washington State, Crystal has seen the number of skiers it hosts greatly increase after it became part of Alterra Mountain Co. and a mainstay of the Ikon Pass. Those skiers are enjoying cheaper access to a snow situation that is dependable and can be quite good during cold storms. Crystal receives 413" of snow per winter, on average, with 29% of winter months bringing in more than 90". The threat of drought here is generally low, as only 7.9% of months bring less than 30" of snow. About half of the mountain faces East, however, so this terrain is to be avoided during mornings when the previous day saw sun and the nighttime temps go below freezing. Higher north-facing terrain in Powder Bowl and the South Backcountry generally hold pretty well because of their aspect. The base elevation at Crystal is 4,400, better than average for a resort in the Cascades. The top of the mountain goes past 6,800 feet, which is excellent for the latitude, but skiers should still prepare for northwest conditions: heavier snow with a chance of rain at the bottom. If you hit a cold storm, ski it hard before the rest of Seattle shows up.

White Pass - Snow Score: 61.0

White Pass gets an average of 380" of snow per winter, which, combined with its base and top elevations of 4,500 and 6,550 feet, put it in good shape during most winters. In addition, 50% of the mountain's runs face north, which helps them preserve the good snow that falls. As this is a Cascade mountain, there will be rain events throughout the winter, but it's a decent bet for good conditions and in the top half of ski hills in Washington State for snow overall.

Bluewood - Snow Score: 54.0

Situated in a patch of mountains in southeastern Washington, Bluewood is away from the coast but still manages to catch 275" of snow a year. The storms are a bit colder this far inland from the ocean, and the base elevation of 4,545 feet helps. Half of Bluewood's slopes face north, which keeps the snow that falls on them colder and from going into the freeze-thaw cycle that affects many resorts in the Northwest. A quarter of the months here bring less than 30", which, for Washington State, is a high number, but only when compared to mountains in the Cascades.

Snoqualmie - Snow Score: 53.8

Snoqualmie gives Seattle skiers a convenient option that makes day-tripping a reality. And the area gets 387" of Cascade snow per season, a high number. That keeps coverage at Snoqualmie fairly dependable, as only 13.4% of winter months bring less than 30" of snow. That said, the base area is the lowest in the state, at 3,140 feet, and only 10% of the mountain faces north, with 40% of it facing east and another 40% west. That makes the freeze-thaw cycle particularly pronounced at Snoqualmie. Seattle skiers should avoid mornings the day after a sunny or warmer day and when the night-time low dipped below 30 degrees.

49 Degrees North - Snow Score: 51.9

Sitting north of Spokane in the mountains bordering Canada, 49 Degrees North has an advantageous and eponymous latitude, which helps preserve the 275" of snow that falls here during an average winter. The base elevation of 3,923 feet is not a strength but not a weakness, either. Forty percent of the mountain's runs face north, which means those are the places to ski in the morning hours when other runs still need to thaw out after undergoing an overnight freeze.

Mt. Spokane - Snow Score: 40.7

Located under an hour from Spokane, Mt. Spokane gives those in Eastern Washington's biggest city a place to get to quickly when they need a snow fix. The average annual snowfall here, 200" a season, is modest. The ski area doesn't see the epic storms that the western half of the state gets; only 1% of months bring more than 90" of snow in a winter, whereas 40% of months bring less than 30". The base area elevation of 4,200 feet is about average for the state, but the exposures—70% east, 30% south—do not promote snow preservation. Mt. Spokane is best skied during the darkest days of January.

Seattle is a ski town.
With Ranier's snowfields omnipresent, Seattle skiers are always thinking about snow.

Mission Ridge - Snow Score: 40.3

Mission Ridge is tucked into the eastern-most flank of the Cascades and has a nice amount of vertical, 2,270 feet, for a small ski hill in the middle of nowhere. Turning laps here on a good snow day is a pleasure. The mountain is far from the Pacific coast, and gets less snow (175" a season) than other Cascade mountains that are further west. Mission Ridge does, however, have some decent base elevation, at 4,550, with a 6,820 peak, solid for Washington state. In addition, 60% of the terrain at Mission Ridge faces north, so when the good snow shows up it tends to stick around.

Loup Loup - Snow Score: 31.9

Loup Loup sits on the far eastern side of the northern Cascades, just before the northwest plains take over. Storms get wrung out before they reach this point, which means the resort only receives 150" of snow per winter. The base elevation of 4,040 feet is a touch low for the state, but not as problematic as the 60% of terrain that faces east, which can struggle to hold snow once the sun reasserts itself in mid-February. Forty percent of the mountain faces north, and those are the slopes where skiers should head when it hasn't snowed for a spate. Like anywhere, skiers can have tons of fun at Loup Loup if they find the right spots.

Christopher Steiner is the founder of ZRankings, and a New York Times Bestselling Author of two books. Find him on Twitter.