10 days ago, our son heard the weather reports that there was a chance of snow in the Seattle area over the next few days. Well, the week came and went, and no snow! He was so disappointed.
But we told him that all winter long, snow is just a short drive away. And that when he’s hankering for a spontaneous snowball fight, it’s easy to make that happen.
We proved it on Sunday. We left our home in Kirkland after lunch, at 1:00. It took a little less than an hour to get to Snoqualmie Pass. We parked, jumped out of the car and played for about an hour, hopped back in the car, and were home by 4:00. No money spent, other than gas money, in exchange for fun in the snow.
Playing in the Snow
Across the street from the Summit West ski area there’s a huge field of snow. There were maybe 10 – 12 other families out there when we were, but there’s plenty of room to spread out.
There are lots of rolling hills, so it’s easy to find places to hide behind to build up a pile of snowball ammunition for snowball fights.
Previous visitors had made some fun snow caves to crawl into (see picture at the top of the post.) There are lots of little sledding hills – most are only a few feet long, but still fun little slides.
There was one nice long run, but it wasn’t quite steep enough. Our son would slide about six feet, scoot for a foot, slide for six and so on.
We hadn’t brought a sled along, but we improvised. He used an insulated bag that we keep in the car for restaurant takeout and it worked great!
If you want a much bigger production with more ambitious sledding, check out the Tubing park at Snoqualmie. It is super fun for 6 – 10 year olds. But, you do have to reserve in advance, and it’s $35 for adults and $12 for kids and was more than we needed for just our little day trip.
We’d decided we would go up and play for exactly as long as we wanted and then quit, and that’s what we did.
We did not do anything special to prep for this… we own ski clothes – snow pants, long undies, ski mittens, the whole deal, but we didn’t bother to dig them out. We just grabbed our regular boots, coats and gloves from the closet, and threw an extra pair of sweatpants in the car for my son. After he was done playing, he just changed to dry pants in the car.
So, there are no bathrooms in this field. I might guess there are some at the nearby gas station. I don’t know. During COVID, we prefer to avoid public buildings, so we just made sure to use the bathroom at home before heading out.
The Summit Pancake House said they were open for takeout only. There were also, I think, a couple places you could get hot chocolate after playing. We just headed home and had hot chocolate at home.
We drove I-90 to the pass. We listened to great podcasts in the car. We got off at the West Summit exit (I think it’s exit 52). Across the street from the ski area there’s a field of snow. We parked near there. (No fee.) We were there at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, and there was plenty of available parking. We’ve heard it can be bad, but that wasn’t our experience.
We did not experience any traffic, going up at 1 on Sunday and heading back down the mountain at 3:00.
It is important to check road and weather conditions before going. https://www.wsdot.com/Traffic/passes/snoqualmie/. On the day we went, there was no snow at all on the side of the road until we got just a few miles from the pass. At the pass, the roads were bare and wet. The temperature was 35. So, easy drive and pleasant weather. The forecast was possible light snow flurries, but we didn’t have any.
We would probably not have done this trip if there was a chance that there would be a lot of snow on the roads and chains would be advised. We are from Wyoming and Massachusetts, and are comfortable putting chains on tires and driving in the snow; however, we drive a Prius and they are not great in the snow!
But: we DID have chains in the car, and we did have blankets, water, and some food, because we keep them in our car all winter every winter. Just in case.
All in all, this was a really fun and easy afternoon outing in the middle of COVID where we got to get out and play!
Note: On February 5th, the state announced they have opened new snow parks you could check out as an alternative to this location. Includes Easton Reload, which looks like it’s about 15 miles past Snoqualmie Pass and has 60 parking spaces off I-90 Exit 71. Here’s the article: https://www.seattletimes.com/life/outdoors/spurred-by-overcrowding-washington-state-parks-creates-3-temporary-new-sno-parks-near-seattle/
Here are a few other posts you may be interested in:
- Low Contact Parks, which lists great less-crowded options all over the Eastside.
- Online parent-child classes for families with children from birth to age 5, offered through local community colleges.
- Screen Time in Coronavirus Time – managing this for kids 12 and under.
- And Connecting to the Outdoors During Coronavirus.