Places To Go Sledding Near Seattle
Aside from a yearly dusting, Seattle only gets a solid snow every four or five years. So in search of a good sledding hill, our family tried out two locations within 65 miles of Seattle: The tubing center at Snoqualmie Pass Tubing Center on Interstate 90 and Deer Creek Road on the Mountain Loop Highway near Granite Falls.
We’ve also visited the further-afield Wenatchee State Park (near Leavenworth) and the Mt. Rainier sledding hill at Paradise.
Next on our list? Hurricane Ridge sledding in Olympic National Park.
Snoqualmie Pass Tubing Center
Exciting sledding for the whole family, but often crowded
The tubing center at Snoqualmie Pass consists of 12 tube lanes and rope tow. Tubes are provided by the facility. Despite the steep price tag ($54 for two adults and a small child) and the mob of people, the sledding is a blast. Have the guy behind you give your tube a push at the top of the run and you’re in for a thrilling 20 seconds of zipping excitement.
Our four-year old son Ben started out on our laps for the first 30 minutes but quickly graduated to his own tube. Runs 9-12 (closest to the lodge) are less steep and perfect for the younger set while thrill-seeking older kids will probably spring for the steeper runs at the far end.
At the bottom we decided that the line for the rope tow was too long and instead elected to walk back up the hill. It’s a nice workout that’ll warm you up; a fact for which you’ll be thankful as you have to wait in line at the top of the hill for the next run. Put a small child in the tube as you lug it up the hill and you’ll have really earned a celebratory hot cocoa.
Children of all ages are welcome, however, the facility urges folks to leave their smaller tykes at home. We agreed with that assessment; our two-year old would not have been a fan of the zippy decent down the hill.
In the end, the sheer number of people and the hefty price tag dictated that this is an activity we’ll do, at most, once a season. The region has too many other good sledding areas that are both cheaper and less populated.
Cost: $24/adult for a two hour time slot. Parking free.
Miles from Seattle: 54
Travel Tip: Online reservations necessary as the slots frequently sell out. Only open Friday-Sunday and some holidays. Lanes 10-12 are the steepest, but also the shortest. Reserve an early morning or evening slot for fewer people. Tubes provided. Bathrooms and a cafe are on site.
Deer Creek Road (Forest Service Rd 4052)
Free sledding for families with young children
In search of a cheaper sledding alternative, we headed north to Granite Falls and the Mountain Loop Highway. Deer Creek Road is at mile marker 23 and the highway itself is closed immediately beyond the turnoff. Cross country skiers, snowshoers, and snow mobiles make use of the closed road as it scenically follows the Stillaguamish River. On the Sunday morning of our visit, the parking lot at Deer Creek was a busy place. A roaring bonfire was going and folks had set up lawn chairs to better view the sledders as they careened down the slope.
Preferring not to be a complete spectacle, we hiked a quarter mile up Deer Creek Road and found a gentle slope that was perfect for our small children. There were very few people and the sledding was gentle. More adventurous children and adults will likely find the slope to be too shallow; we observed some kids building routes through the trees but can’t speak to the quality of those DIY versions. Following the Deer Creek Road beyond the sledding activities might also be a nice route for snowshoers.
Cost: Free. No parking pass required.
Miles from Seattle: 65
Directions: From Granite Falls, go east on the Mountain Loop Highway 23 miles (until you see the gate across the road). The Deer Creek Parking lot is on the north side. Parking in the lot or on the highway [48.08546, -121.55223]
Travel Tip: Bring your own sleds. Pick one up at Granite Falls Hardware (108 S. Granite Ave, Granite Falls, WA 98252. Phone:(360) 691-6537). A four wheel drive vehicle is not necessary, but definitely advised. We saw a few cars in the ditch.
Other Puget Sound Area Options
Lake Wenatchee State Park Sledding Hill
Sledding for families with young children
The Lake Wenatchee SP is a bit further afield for Seattleites; it’s 100 miles from our house, making this too far for a day trip but an excellent pit-stop if you’re heading east over the mountains and need to get everyone out of the car for a while. We stopped there last year on our way out to Leavenworth for the weekend.
The run is a gentle 150 feet in length and you must provide your own sled. It’s perfect for small children but older kids and adults will likely wish it was steeper. The bonus of this park is that it’ll typically be much less crowded than the areas closer to Seattle. On our Saturday excursion, there were only a handful of other families enjoying the run and there was no wait at the top of the hill.
Cost: Dailey Sno-Park pass required ($20 + Discovery Pass). This can be purchased in the parking lot.
Miles from Seattle: 100
Travel Tip: Bring your own sleds. Check conditions before traveling: www.lakewenatcheeinfo.com/state-park-main/
Mt. Rainier National Park Paradise Sledding Hill
Sledding for families in a spectacular setting
On a bright sunny day, the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park is, well, paradise. The sledding hill is directly off the parking lot and lacks a tow rope, but the scenery is spectacular and the access easy. It has a very family-friendly atmosphere and several runs. Like Lake Wenatchee, this isn’t the most thrilling hill; it’ll be perfect for younger children but will leave the teenager wanting more.
Beautiful snowshoeing is also available from the Paradise visitor center. The rangers also lead trips on the weekends. Sign up at the visitor’s center.
If you’re feeling adventurous, backcountry snow camping is also available (by permit) in the immediate area. Set your kid to work making their best ice cave before letting loose on the sledding hill.
Cost: $20 (good for 7 days)
Miles from Seattle: 107 (to Paradise Lodge)
Travel Tip: Open daily, staffed on weekends. Bring your own sleds. No sleds with runners allowed. All vehicles are often required to carry chains. Check conditions on the NP’s twitter feed before traveling: www.lakewenatcheeinfo.com/state-park-main/
The one place we haven’t yet gone, but would like to visit:
Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park
Set in the picturesque Olympic National Park just outside of Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is another breathtaking locale. The long winding road emerges from the forest upon a mountain with massive views. We’ve been here in the summer but long to return for snow play, come winter time.
Much like Snoqualmie, Hurricane Ridge provides the tubes for their sledding hill. Thankfully, the prices are far cheaper: $10/two hours.
Cost: $10/adult for two hours. Parking is free.
Miles from Seattle: 110 (but also requires a ferry crossing)
Travel Tip: The parking lot at Hurricane Ridge is small so plan to arrive as early as possible. Check the twitter feed for road information and parking lot updates: https://twitter.com/HRWinterAccess. If you’re staying in the area, combine a day at Hurricane Ridge with a ride through Sequim’s Olympic Game Farm, where you can feed a mostly collection of animals, including bears, zebras, elk, and the massive bison.