Skiing and snowboarding are the most popular way to enjoy the snow, but the Northwest offers plenty of other ways to play.
Here are 10 ideas:
Fat bikes are essentially mountain bikes with massive, low-pressure tires that allow riders to pedal over compact snow. They also work well on the beach. The Methow Valley positioned itself as the Northwest’s front-runner for this sport in 2013 and continues to promote the Nordic skiing mecca as a fat biking wonderland. It offers riding in four areas. Several South Sound bike shops sell fat bikes, but they’re also available for rent at Winthrop’s Methow Cycle and Sport starting at $40 for a half day. Leavenworth Winter Sports Club also plans to add fat biking.
You can live out your Olympic and/or James Bond dreams for $169 at the Whistler Sliding Centre starting in December. Tour the sliding track used for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics then hop in a bobsled with a professional pilot and take a run where you could reach speeds of 75 mph.
Grab an inner tube or a soft sled and head to a Paradise (the only place sledding is allowed in Mount Rainier National Park) or a Washington Sno-Park. Don’t have a sled? Tubes are included at the Summit at Snoqualmie tubing hill.
OVERNIGHT AT MTTA
The Mount Tahoma Trails Association has about 50 miles of trails (20 groomed) ideal for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. You’ll need a Sno-Park pass ($20 per vehicle per day or $40 for the season). Spending the night in one of the trail system’s huts or its yurt costs $15 per person per night. The facilities are maintained by volunteers and are funded by donations.
It looks like a 42-pound rock with a handle, but it’s “a repository of human possibility, and if it’s handled just right it will exact the kind of poetry.” At least that’s what we learned from the 2002 film “Men with Brooms,” arguably one of the 10 funniest curling movies ever made. Check out the movie then head to Seattle’s Granite Curling Club to try the game for yourself. Open houses are $25 per person or $60 per family and are scheduled for Dec. 6, Jan. 3, Feb. 21 and March 7. Make a reservation online because the events often sell out.
TAKE A SNOWSHOE TOUR
National park rangers at Paradise and Hurricane Ridge offer free snowshoe tours each winter. The tours include snowshoe rental and typically move at a leisurely pace ideal for families. Want to head out on your own? Snowshoe rentals are available at Hurricane Ridge and Longmire. A stay at the National Park Inn in Longmire includes use of snowshoes. Check the national park websites for schedules. Park entry is $15 per vehicle for a 7-day pass.
From its famous December tree-lighting ceremonies and its fudge samples to the miles of snowy playgrounds surrounding the town, Leavenworth is a winter wonderland. The Play All Day Pass at the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club costs $28 and is good for access to cross-country skiing at three locations, mellow rope-tow alpine skiing and tubing at the Leavenworth Ski Hill. You can also use the Nordic ski jump. It’s much smaller than what you see in the Olympics, but it’s the only one in Washington.
EASTERN WASHINGTON FESTIVALS
Eastern Washington’s most famous winter celebration might be Leavenworth’s tree-lighting festival (Dec. 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21) but Chelan’s 30-year-old Winterfest has its own following. In recent years the event expanded to two weekends of ice sculptures, snowshoe and snowmobile races, dog fashion shows, chili cook-offs and the traditional Polar Bear Splash. This year’s festival is scheduled for Jan. 16-25.
Evergreen Sno-Park, new this year, gives snowmobilers access to more than 100 miles of trails in Kittitas County. A party celebrating the portal to the Taneum-Manastash Trail System was held earlier this month. The Sno-Park, scheduled to open Dec. 1 if conditions permit, is located near Cle Elum. There are about 80 snowmobile Sno-Parks in Washington.
POLAR BEAR PLUNGE
Want to ring in 2015 by flirting with hypothermia? The South Sound is home to several Polar Bear Plunge opportunities including ones at Point Defiance and Lacey’s Long Lake Park.