The Insider's Guide to Skiing at Stevens Pass

Jeff Wilcox
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Stevens Pass is the fun middle child, the one who learned from the older sibling how to charge hard, and is showing the younger one how to get away with no one knowing you’re there. Nestled between Baker and Crystal of the ‘Big 3’ resorts for Washington, Stevens Pass sits on the very top of the Highway 2 pass and strikes the perfect balance between the two.

While not the massive resort of Crystal Mountain, Stevens slams a ton into its 1,800 vertical feet, and the off-piste skiing only makes the mountain feel larger. Stealing the best snow from the guts of the Pacific storm clouds that come off the ocean and try to clear the Cascades, there isn’t a type of skier who wouldn’t enjoy Stevens Pass. Demonstrative of the elegant equilibrium between Baker and Crystal (in more than just location), Stevens Pass is the model balance between great terrain and abundant snow. Throw in the creative features and big hits in the terrain park (the best in the state) and the always-awesome night skiing, Stevens Pass is that coolheaded middle child that can do no wrong, yet somehow gets away with more secrets than the others.

Jeff Wilcox

Stevens Pass sees a lot of the high school and college kids from all over the western part of the state, as the terrain park is fantastic and an extra draw. But have no fear: Stevens Pass is not a destination resort, and while weekend and holiday lines can be rough, the midweek skiing is fast and stress-free. In fact, while there’s no particular pattern to this, even on the best powder days, the only lines might be found on the Hogsback and Skyline Express lifts – this could haves something to do with the classic Stevens Pass fashion of low visibility in storms – but even then, there’s the majority of the mountain to yourself. The majority of the good off-piste skiing at Stevens Pass isn’t found on those two chairs, anyway. Head to any of the 7th Heaven, Southern Cross, or Jupiter Express for the best lifts.

Mogul lovers should flood to 7th Heaven as fast as they can, before the perfect bumps become too carved out and give you the jolting knee-bounce every skier has felt. And for those who don’t mind the work, the bootpack up to Cowboy Mountain from the chair offers a sublime downhill ski. The entire Stevens Pass backside is diverse, full of groomers, trees, and multiple levels of ability. The Pegasus Gulch area is perhaps the best the backside has to offer, but that’s just one opinion, and on a mountain like Stevens Pass, everyone has their own secret stash. Just avoid the base lifts on a busy day, and you should be fine.

Adam Barhan

Stevens Pass leaves six lifts open for night skiing multiple days a week, meaning the fun doesn’t have to end in the afternoon. The main terrain park, “Top Phlight Terrain Park,” is for the big hitters, while the secondary terrain park “Dog Dunes” is for those new to negotiating with gravity.

The elevation of Stevens Pass combines with a dry wind from the east, giving the mountain perhaps better snow than Mt. Baker, which is spread out over three different aspects of separate mountains within the boundaries. There are not a whole lot of green-level slopes on the mountain, but there is a perfect progression of difficulty among the blue square trails to black diamond trails, as well as a rope-tow for the young ones! Stevens Pass is described as the best family-friendly mountain for the Seattle crowd — a more casual and relaxed vibe on the hill than Crystal, and not as powder-competitive (or wet) as Baker can be. Stevens Pass undoubtedly has a sense of community, something that is hard to find at a resort nowadays. Gotta love those middle siblings.

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