2004 | Ski areas expect snow, but go elsewhere for best slopes now

Folks looking for fresh powder to help celebrate Thanksgiving better hope the trip over the river to Grandma’s house takes them to Oregon or Canada.

The best chance for skiing and snowboarding locally is Mount Baker Ski Area, depending on how soon the snow level falls.

Because of rain and high freezing levels, the ski area was closed Wednesday. Officials at the ski area were waiting out the arrival of a new storm, which could bring enough snow to allow the area to reopen today or Friday.

As of Wednesday, the area was reporting a base of 19 to 25 inches of snow.

In Oregon, Mount Bachelor opened Tuesday with an 11-inch base. The ski area has 13 of 71 runs and four of 10 lifts open.

It, too, is expecting new snow during the holiday weekend.

“There are two storms on the radar that should bring the desired powder,” spokesman Chris Johnston said. “From Thanksgiving Day through Sunday we could see an additional 20 inches of snow.”

North of the border, Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort is likely the best bet. The ski area is reporting packed powder and machine-groomed conditions, with a base of 31 to 33 inches. Eight of the area’s 200 trails are open, as are four of the 37 lifts.

If you want to visit some snow, the visitor center at Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Friday, as well as weekends and other holidays during the winter.

There is not enough snow, however, for the sledding area to open. Park officials like to have a minimum of 6 feet before opening the area, and now there is just 10 inches.

Park officials said Stevens Canyon Road has been closed for the season. The cross- park roadway connects the east and west sides of the park and is usually open from Memorial Day into the fall when snowfall closes it until the following spring.

The road from the Nisqually Entrance to Paradise remains open on a daily basis. The road to Paradise closes each day at 4 p.m. to uphill traffic. Visitors can expect frequent changes in weather conditions when traveling this road and should drive with caution.

Chains are required in all vehicles when traveling in the park during the winter, as conditions might require them at any time.

Cayuse and Chinook passes remain open, but might be closed by snow at any time.

The National Park Inn at Longmire is open throughout the winter with lodging, meals, gift shop and ski rentals.