Winter recreation

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Get outside & enjoy winter fun in Washington!

Winter sport enthusiasts and families can spice up the cold months with a variety of snow activities sponsored by Washington State Parks' Winter Recreation Program. The Evergreen State is "ever green" only in parts. The Olympic, Cascade, Blue, and Selkirk mountains provide great opportunities for all types of outdoor winter fun.

Cross-country and downhill skiing, skijoring, snowmobiling, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and tubing are available at a variety of locations across the state. In concert with federal agencies, private landowners, and other state agencies, Washington State Parks administers this program in seven national forests and blocks of state and private forest land. Five major highway passes, kept open to normal traffic in winter, provide easy access to play sites and trailheads.

Sno-Parks
The Winter Recreation Program manages Sno-Parks (cleared parking areas) in close proximity to groomed and backcountry trails.

  • Snowmobile Sno-Parks are open to both motorized and non-motorized winter recreation.
  • Non-motorized Sno-Parks are only open to winter recreation sports such as cross-country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and snow play.

Have you visited a sno-park and would you like to share your thoughts? Sno-Park on-site evaluation forms can now be done completely online.

Pass & permit information

Sno-Park permits are available online from Nov. 1 through April 30.

Visitors to Washington state parks and state recreation lands managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources are required to display the Discover Pass on their vehicles. Exemption: If you have a current seasonal Sno-Park permit, you will not need to purchase a Discover Pass to use a designated Sno-Park between Dec. 1 and March 31 for winter recreation activities. However, your Sno-Park permit may not be used to access other state recreation lands.

Please note: If using a daily Sno-Park permit, you also will need a one-day or annual Discover Pass when visiting Crystal Springs, Easton Reload, and Hyak Sno-Parks; Fields Spring, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee, and Mount Spokane state parks; and the Department of Natural Resources' Mount Tahoma Trail System. For more information or to purchase an annual Discovers, please visit our Discover Pass page.

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Winter Recreation mascots

Blake the snowshoe hare is named after Blake Island State Park, a marine state park in the Puget Sound, southwest of Seattle.

Matilda the snowshoe hare is named after Matilda Jackson who moved to Chehalis, Wash., with her husband, John R. Jackson, in the 1840s. The Jacksons were two of the first Euro-American settlers north of the Columbia River. Their reconstructed homestead cabin is preserved as the Jackson House State Park Heritage Site.

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Five Key Safety Guidelines When Riding in Avalanche Country

  • GET THE GEAR: Ensure everyone has an avalanche transceiver, shovel and probe on their person and knows how to use them.
  • GET THE FORECAST: Make a riding plan based on the current avalanche and weather forecast.
  • GET OUT OF HARM'S WAY: One at a time on all avalanche slopes. Don't go to help your stuck friend. Don't group up in runout zones.
  • GET THE TRAINING: Take an avalanche course.
  • GET THE PICTURE: If you see recent avalanche activity unstable snow exists, stay out of that area. Riding on or underneath slopes is dangerous.

Credit to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association