Whistler Village is a cozy hub at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb.

Whistler Blackcomb

Après Scene / Expert Slopes / Lodging • Drive Time: 4 hour 15 minutes

New lift alert: British Columbia’s ski mecca (37 lifts!) claims the biggest uphill upgrade in the region, a 10-passenger gondola up the Blackcomb half of the two-mountain resort. Two other lift replacements helped spruce up the 8,000-plus acres this season and Whistler Village gained a pod hotel, the Pangea. With the Vail-owned twin behemoth now open to most season pass holders from Stevens, the weekend Whistler crowds aren’t likely to wane. At the end of the day, the après-ski scene is, as ever, well-prepared for the masses. whistlerblackcomb.com

Mount Baker Ski Area

Expert Slopes / Bargain Tickets / Crowd-Free • Drive Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Some things never change at the state’s far-north ski hill, like Baker’s record-breaking levels of snowfall—often double that of other Northwest resorts—and its steady parade of Bellingham college students and ski bums, all of whom appreciate the affordable lift tickets. Owned by a mostly local collection of stockholders since its creation in 1953, the ski area resists pretension and courts snowboarders with the annual Legendary Banked Slalom competition. Aging lodges can’t sour the mountain’s long-held chill. mtbaker.us

Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort

Family Friendly / Sunny Forecast / Crowd-Free • Drive Time: 3 hours

Wenatchee’s ski hill is practically in town, just a 20-minute drive up through city neighborhoods to slopes blessed by Central Washington sun. When the snow shows, it’s an airy powder, and crowds never approach Stevens levels. A planned expansion could add acres of beginner terrain and new lifts in a few years, but for now the charm comes from mid-run surprises like a slope side sundeck and an airplane wing left over from a crashed B-24 bomber, now mounted above Bomber Bowl. missionridge.com

Crystal Mountain lift tomfoolery.

Crystal Mountain Resort

Après Scene / Expert Slopes / Lodging  Drive Time: 2 hours

Washington’s sole gondola, Washington’s one true alpine village—it’s not wrong to call Crystal the state’s only world-class ski resort, especially when one grades on a Colorado or Whistler Blackcomb scale. Acquired by conglomerate Alterra last fall, Crystal could see even more expansion in coming years to ease congestion, but it already delivers varied terrain over 10 lifts, many mid-mountain lodges, night skiing, and viewpoints where Rainier appears so massive, it’s almost distracting. crystalmountainresort.com

Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area

Expert Slopes / Bargain Tickets / Crowd-Free • Drive Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Two short rope tows and a Poma lift are a throwback to ski resorts before express quads and RFID passes. That the Olympic National Park even hosts a ski area is a shock, but lift operations are limited to a small area near the Hurricane Ridge Lodge; expert skiers use the rope-tow boost to ski down to the park road and hitch a ride back to the parking lot. From the top of the ski hill, Vancouver Island looks close enough to bat with a mitten. hurricaneridge.com

Young bombers at White Pass.

White Pass Ski Area

Family Friendly / Bargain Tickets / Night Skiing • Drive Time: 3 hours

Though perched on a relatively well-traveled east-west highway, White Pass manages to fly under the radar with its high-speed lifts and mellow runs that stretch back toward the Goat Rocks Wilderness. Largely frequented by South Sound and Yakima locals, its 2011 expansion gave skiers more breathing room and opened gladed, but not steep, terrain in its Paradise Basin. This year, the base lodges got a tune-up. skiwhitepass.com

Sun Valley Resort

Après Scene / Sunny Forecast / Lodging • Drive Time: 10 hours 15 minutes

Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains made ski history with the world’s first chairlifts; one inched up what is now Sun Valley’s small, family friendly Dollar Mountain back in the 1930s. Today, the resort prides itself on snowmaking in the cold, dry climate. The resort’s bigger Bald Mountain will add 380 more skiable acres next season with a new chairlift, but mountain guides will lead preview tours of the new Cold Springs Canyon terrain this year. sunvalley.com

Stevens Pass Mountain Resort

Family Friendly / Expert Slopes / Night Skiing • Drive Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

What happens when the scrappy underdog of Northwest ski hills—with its creaky chairs, greasy lodge food, and lifties blasting tunes on the night shift—gets a Vail makeover? We’ll find out in the resort’s first season under the Colorado company’s umbrella (see "Washington's Biggest Resorts Just Got Bought by Conglomerates"); the conglomerate finalized its acquisition of the Highway 2 mountain in August. Stevens Pass has always been Seattle’s most accessible serious ski spot, the parking lots filling before sunrise and emptying only after the late-night live music fades at the Foggy Goggle bar. When change comes, hopefully it won’t take away Stevens’ shaggy soul or its piping hot liquid-cheese nachos. stevenspass.com

Timberline Ski Area lights up Mount Hood.

Mount Hood

Night Skiing / Family Friendly / Lodging  Drive Time: 4 hours

Resorts crowd the Portland-area volcano, from sprawling Meadows and its varied slopes on the southeast to the Ski Bowl’s extensive night skiing terrain on the west. Timberline, based around the famous eponymous lodge, boasts a lift that reaches so high up Mount Hood it can sometimes host year-round skiing—we’ll see how long that lasts—and just acquired the family-friendly Summit area a few miles downhill at Government Camp. skihood.com, timberlinelodge.com, skibowl.com

Summit at Snoqualmie

Family Friendly / Lodging / Night Skiing • Drive Time: 1 hour

While the slopes may not be high at Seattle’s closest ski hill, the appeal is wide; four distinct zones meld into one resort that spans I-90, from the steep cliffs of Alpental to the beginner-friendly magic carpets of Summit Central. Expanded night skiing through the Silver Fir area this winter means as many as 13 chairlifts spin in the evening. It’s easy to forgo après ski when you can make turns right après work. summitatsnoqualmie.com

A boarder rides the Sun Peaks park.

Sun Peaks Ski Resort

Family Friendly / Sunny Forecast / Lodging • Drive Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Like Whistler, but homier; like Sun Valley, but Canadian-er. It’s tempting to compare central BC’s ski resort to its brethren, but only Sun Peaks can boast a director of skiing like Nancy Greene. The Olympic gold medalist and Canadian ski hero not only helped build the resort town with her husband (the mayor), she also does free ski tours almost every afternoon. A brand-new quad chair eases access to the Sun Peaks slopes, which shoot up in every direction in BC’s interior mountains outside Kamloops. sunpeaksresort.com

Mount Bachelor Ski Resort

Family Friendly / Sunny Forecast / Après Scene • Drive Time 6 hours

While Mount Baker ski hill is actually on ridges next to the volcano, Oregon’s Mount Bachelor ski area is smack on its eponymous cinder cone, 11 lifts fanned around the mountain base. With more than 4,300 skiable acres, it’s one of the largest ski hills in the country, and its reliable sunshine and omnipresent craft brews cement it as a good-time destination. Just as in the outdoorsy, beer-sodden town of Bend down the road, there’s always a Bachelor party to be found. mtbachelor.com

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