(Update 12:30pm: With a great sense of timing for this post, the Seattle Times reports that Crystal Mountain is turning skiers away for the remainder of the day because their parking lot is full.)
Though I mostly enjoy my car-free life, I do wish I skied more. When I lived in Idaho I thought nothing of 100-mile drives to support my season pass at Schweitzer, and when I lived in Colorado there was always the Ski Train to Winter Park. Our wilderness legacy in Washington has kept our spectacular mountains fairly well-preserved, with the caveat that the relatively few access points that do exist must be accessed by car. Here we have resorts surrounded by emptiness (whether wilderness or clearcuts), whereas places like Colorado have ski towns, many of them served by comprehensive (and free!) transit service. Though Washington has an impressive amount of rural transit, very little of this serves our resorts. Our decision to under-develop our mountains comes with environmental benefits that I genuinely appreciate, but this particular tradeoff – lack of transit access – frustrates my attempts to enjoy winter sports and still live car-free.
More after the jump…
Crystal Mountain: The Ski Shuttle operates on weekdays only with stops in West Seattle and Downtown Seattle before running express to Crystal. The Weekend Express bus operates on Saturday, Sunday, and select holidays. Buses originate from Green Lake, Gig Harbor, Lacey, and Issaquah.
Summit at Snoqualmie: Weekend service is available from West Seattle and Downtown Seattle. Night Skiing service is offered on select Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Stevens Pass: It is difficult to get to Stevens Pass without driving at least some distance. Northwest Trailways will take you directly from King St. to Stevens Pass, albeit with an arrival of 11:40am, a bit late for beginning a day of skiing. Daily bus service is also available from Leavenworth, making a 2-night vacation doable via Amtrak. The Sultan Shuttle runs from the Sultan Chevron to Stevens Pass, with 3 departures each Saturday and Sunday. Community Transit runs hourly service to Sultan on Saturdays, but a connection between the two is not possible due to timing. Through New Years’ Eve ONLY, weekday Sultan Shuttle service is offered, making a Community Transit connection possible. Otherwise, there are several occasional shuttles, a list of which can be found here.
Mount Baker: Weekend service is available from Bellingham on the Baker Bus. There is no service from Seattle, and no buses/trains connecting to the service. The bus departs from Whatcom Transit’s Lincoln Creek P&R.
Mission Ridge: Wenatchee may have the best ski/transit access in Washington. The local transit agency, Link Transit, runs 6 trips per day on weekends and holidays, with substantial midday service (likely for resort employees). Most trips originate at Columbia Station (Amtrak), and regular fares ($2 each way) are charged. Passengers coming from Seattle to Wenatchee have a choice of a 12:55p or 7:00p bus arrival (Trailways), or an 8:42p train arrival (Empire Builder).