One downfall to Stevens Pass is the drive. While it is roughly the same distance from Seattle that Crystal is (all depending on whether you are North or South Seattle), the drive can seem a bit sketchy. Highway 2 has no middle divider (until after the resort, heading east), which can be scary and nerve-wracking during storms. But the highway is wide and on non-stormy days, it can actually be quite an easy drive. Where it is a better drive than Crystal, however, is on the return. Because of the night skiing option, not everyone is bolting off the mountain and rushing to their car at the same time – some leave at the afternoon closing, some stick around for the night skiing – so the traffic down the highway is less bunched than Crystal’s return trip.
But the unfortunate side of Stevens Pass is the lifestyle options. There are three lodges on the mountain, and all have good food and beer, but there is no town nearby for that après-ski vibe we all love. This can definitely turn away casual skiers, which might actually be better for those die-hards who’d sacrifice the après-ski lifestyle for a less-crowded day on the mountain. Leavenworth, about a half hour east of Stevens Pass, however, is a fantastic town. Head east for a Bavarian feel, and hit up the Icicle Brewing Company on Front Street. If only Leavenworth were situated on the west side of the highway 2 pass, between the resort and Seattle, and Stevens Pass might be perfect.
Oh well, no mountain is perfect – though many may claim otherwise. But when at Stevens Pass, combining the family-friendly feel with the powder purebreds, it isn’t rare to see an entire family from Seattle head back to an RV in the lot after a long day of skiing and spend the night, ready for more the next day. Who needs mountainside lodging? What a fantastic way to teach the young ones the rewards of first chair – just be assured, you won’t be the only “local” hopping out of an RV and heading towards the line well before those chairs start churning up and down the mountain. Damn, those lucky kids!