Winter Adventures All Around the Yakima Valley
For all who love to get out and play in the snow, it’s time for the countdown until winter adventures commence! No doubt, wintertime in the Pacific Northwest is something special. Around the Yakima Valley, you find majestic mountain views and alpine forest terrain ready for adventure just minutes away from town. Even better, you can count on enjoying them throughout the winter under far more sunny skies and with far fewer drizzly days than elsewhere in the Northwest. Winter recreation areas are opening soon and that means it’s time to plan your winter adventures on the east side of the mountains.
Snowy Slopes, Tracks and Trails
Take the short drive from Yakima to White Pass Ski Resort for your perfect wintertime day – 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.
Warm up mid-day with plenty of dining choices. You’ll have options for takeaway with expanded outdoor seating and indoor dining. Choose from hot breakfast, wood-fired pizza, grill specialties, bistro and pub fare, snacks, local wine and 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. Discover trails for all levels, including a learning/practice loop. 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. The trail system has been 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, usually beginning late December. 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. Some tours may include yoga with expert instructor, Sara Washburn of Just Breathe Adventure Company. 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. 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.
Build confidence while learning new skills in a positive environment — while also being taught by and surrounded by like-minded women. That is the epitome of Girls with Grit, a local women’s adventure company owned and operated by Shannon Mahre. In the winter, she helps women all over the PNW get off of the blue runs on their skis, giving them the tools they need to progress in the bumps, power, crud, in the trees and more.
Locally, she offers women’s intermediate and advanced ski clinics as well as Intro to Backcountry Ski Clinics at White Pass Ski Area. Each clinic will begin with coffee and a round robin followed by two hours of on-snow skills clinics. Lunch is next where they all enjoy a tasty meal before an afternoon on the slopes. Post lunch, Shannon and her co-coaches lead the crew back out for two hours of coach-led free-skiing. They end the day with happy hour and high fives during a Q + A session before everyone heads home for the day. These clinics always fill up fast, so plan ahead and reserve your spot today!
In the warmer months, Shannon offers women’s mountain bike (beginner-advanced) clinics and lessons, river and lake stand up paddle board clinics, Cowgirl Camp, river SUP expeditions and women’s fly fishing clinics and guided tours. Watch @GirlsWithGrit for dates and details!
Hill Climbing and Trail Blazing
All around Yakima, you’ll find 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 (Yakima County). MakeAhtanum State Forestyour 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!
Categorized in: Outdoor Recreation