What You Need to Know About Sno-Parks
Snowshoers at Gold Creek on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass need to display a Sno-Park permit on their car. Photo by bsanner.
With the sky bluebird blue and snow finally piling up in the mountains, it is time to head for the hills for skiing and snowshoeing. No matter where you live in this great state, there are winter recreation opportunities close at hand.
In addition to packing the right things for your winter adventure, you'll likely need to purchase a Sno-Park Pass. Most winter snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails require one of these to park in designated Sno-Park lots from November 1 to April 30, regardless of snow. The funds pay for plowing these lots during winter months, as well as trail grooming and maintenance.
You can find your nearest non-motorized Sno-Park here, or you can snowshoe or ski from the nearest motorized Sno-Park as well. Sno-Park permits can be purchased online from November 1st- April 30th, or for an extra $2, at a number of locations statewide.
- Day Permits: $20/day. Day Permits are valid at any Sno-Park location, including Special Groomed Trail locations, until midnight of the purchase date. Consult the graphic below to determine if you will also need a Discover Pass.
- Seasonal Permits: $40/season. Seasonal Permits are valid at all Sno-Park locations EXCEPT those designated as Special Groomed Trail locations. If you know you'll be going out two or more times, buy the Seasonal Permit.
- Special Groomed Trails Permits: $40/season add-on. This optional add-on to the Seasonal Permit allows you to park at Cabin Creek, Chiwawa, Crystal Springs, Hyak, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee, Mount Spokane and Nason Ridge where trails are groomed for cross-country skiers.
Discover Pass and Sno-Parks Pass in State Parks: If you have a Sno-Park Seasonal Permit (the key word here is 'seasonal') you do not need a Discover Pass to snowshoe within state parks. However, if you purchase a Sno-Park Day Permit you will also need either a Day Discover Pass or an Annual Discover Pass for certain Sno-Parks located on state lands (see below).
Note that as of the 2013 - 2014 season, the Oregon Sno-Park Pass is no longer good in Washington. Look here to find out all you need to know about Oregon Sno-Park Passes.
Where To Go
Now you need to find where to go! If you're new to snowshoeing, check out our Snowshoeing 101 page, then choose a destination. WTA has put together a list of ten easy to intermediate snowshoe hikes around the state with little or no avalanche danger. You can also go to Trip Reports and do an advanced search on Snowshoes/XC Ski. We also recommend that you consult our Winter Recreation page, which has links to mountain weather, avalanche info, winter safety tips.
Have fun, and when you return, share your experience by writing a Trip Report. These are incredibly helpful for others when they are planning their snowshoes and hikes.