Cover Photo by Mahre Made and Girls with Grit
Plan your winter adventures in the Yakima Valley
While we’ve officially passed the halfway mark for the winter season, there’s still plenty of time for snowy winter adventures. For all the snow lovers among us, the halfway mark simply means it’s time to head for the hills and in search of the next Best Day Ever.
Here, around the Yakima Valley, we have majestic mountain views and alpine forest terrain ready for adventure just minutes away. Even better, we can count on enjoying them throughout the winter under sunny skies with far fewer drizzly days than elsewhere in the Northwest.White Pass Ski Resort marks the second half of ski season with everyone’s favorite winter festival. White Pass Winter Carnival on March 4 and 5 is the perfect, family friendly event for snow lovers. Take the short drive to celebrate snow! Tube on the giant snow castle and enjoy the kids’ obstacle course race, face-painting and all-around fun! This year’s event theme, Time Travelers Weekend, makes for the ultimate party. Instead of limiting costumes to a single decade, you and your “time traveling” guests can take inspiration from a person or style from any year, past or present. Think dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, famous historical figures and pop icons — the possibilities are endless! Don’t leave before the torchlight parade and fireworks at 7 pm on Saturday when the castle lights up.
Snowy Slopes, Tracks and Trails
Aside from the Winter Carnival, White Pass Ski Resort is also the place for your perfect wintertime days all season long – followed by a local craft brew or Yakima Valley wine and cozy dinner back in town. No matter your level, find ideal terrain, from rugged slopes for the expert skier to gentler tracks for those learning, all with stunning views. They offer equipment and retail shopping. Ski and snowboard instruction is available for all levels. Take note that full-day lift tickets should be purchased online.
Most White Pass features a variety of dining spots for your day on the slopes. Grab takeaway specialties with expanded outdoor seating and indoor dining. Choose from hot breakfast, wood-fired pizza, grill specialties, bistro and pub fare, snacks, wine, craft beer, coffee, hot chocolate and more. Mid-mountain dining spots make for a perfect mid-run break. Check out the High Camp Lodge and the Mid-Mountain Yurt
If you haven’t explored adventures offered at the White Pass Nordic Center, let this be the year! The cozy yurt in a picturesque setting is your home base for alpine skiing, snowshoeing and fat bikes on the snowy tracks. If you need to rent equipment, they have you covered (even for fat bike excursions). They regularly post track conditions and tail maps on their site. Last year the trail system was newly expanded, including an additional practice loop that makes the perfect progression trail after you master the original practice loop. In all, the Nordic Center maintains 26 miles of trails. Pets are allowed on the tracks, on leash, after 3:30 pm.
For a special evening, take a Twilight Snowshoe Tour. Explore the groomed trails and majestic views of the stunning Cascade Crest by moonlight (or headlamp on snowy nights) with Nordic Center guides. The tour encircles Leech Lake and traverses the Pacific Crest Trail. Tours include snowshoe rental and headlamps if needed. Even better, your snowy twilight tour is followed by light appetizers and beverages from the Nordic Cafe. The tour is recommended for adults. Youth ages 12 an up will be welcomed as long as they’re able to stay with the group. The tour lasts from 4:30 pm to 5:45 or 6 pm. Reservations are required to guarantee your spot.
A short drive up highway 410 takes you to the Bumping Area where you’ll find miles of cross country and snowshoe trails for unguided adventures.
Aspire and Achieve This Winter
Have you been wishing to reach your next level on the slopes? Maybe you want to build your skills for powder, crud, bumps, trees and steeps? Husband and wife team, Andy and Shannon Mahre of Mahre Athletic Development Company (MADE) and Girls with Grit have created experiences to inspire and help you achieve your next goals or simply to enjoy the sport more fully.
During the winter, they offer specialized skiing clinics and classes. Scheduled group clinics for intermediate, advanced and expert skiers deliver a day of shredding and smiles. After the meet and greet, the ladies will head off with Shannon and the guys will head off with Andy for the morning ski workshop. Then, meet up together for lunch, ski as a group for a few runs, and then split up again. You can also schedule private clinics or two-hour private lessons or lesson for two skiers with Andy or Shannon. They include classes for intermediate and advanced to expert skiers, focusing on moguls, steeps, crud, powder, pillows and trees, introduction to backcountry/side country and introduction to air (natural terrain). This year, Shannon and her co-coaches are once again offering women’s progression clinics and full-day women’s clinics. They always fill up fast, so plan ahead and reserve your spot!
New this year, Shannon will host Girls with Grit Collective events this winter, including a ski-based event at White Pass that will include yoga, a women’s ski morning and mini clinic, as well as a women’s empowerment panel happy hour in the afternoon Watch @GirlsWithGrit for dates and details!
Hill Climbing and Trail Blazing
Just a short drive from Yakima takes you to hundreds of miles for winter riding on your snow machines. You can ride for hours under reliably sunny skies, making the most of abundant snowfalls and a variety of terrain from gentle to extreme. You’ll find more than 20 sno-parks in the greater Yakima/Greenwater area. Make Ahtanum State Forest your first stop to hit the Ahtanum Sno-Park at Ahtanum Meadows, the largest sno-park in the region, with miles of groomed trails through pristine alpine meadows with stunning high-country views. From there, continue to explore throughout the terrain all around the Valley.
A scenic drive in the other direction takes you up highway 410 where you’ll find even more trails to ride.
Perhaps most important, parking for your rig and machines is abundant and free at most Yakima Valley hotels!
As always, tag #yakimavalley to share your winter fun around the Valley.