If you're from a snowy place, you probably don't miss shoveling the white stuff. But you've also no doubt realized it's annoyingly complicated to take your kids to just play in the snow around here. Right?
And if you've tried to go play in the snow this season, you know it's been extra busy.
Fortunately, Washington State Parks has noticed our higher, pandemic-induced desire to go play in the snow with our kids, and has opened a new temporary Sno-Park for just that reason. Praise the snow gods!
Where is this new snow play destination?
First, know that a Sno-Park is essentially a plowed parking lot where people can park their cars — with the right parking permit, more on that in a sec — to pursue winter recreation, such as snowshoeing, playing in the snow or cross-country skiing. ("Motorized" Sno-Parks are intended for snowmobilers.)
The new, temporary, Non-Motorized Sno-Park is located at the Easton Reload, a spot off of I-90 just past Lake Easton State Park. It's over Snoqualmie Pass, so to get there you'll need to be prepared for winter driving conditions and follow changing requirements for traction tires or chains — check WSDOT for that info. In favorable driving conditions, plan on about an hour and 15 minutes or an hour and a half drive time from Seattle.
What can we do at this Sno-Park?
Hyak Sno-Park, which sits about 20 miles closer to Seattle than Easton Reload, is one that's seen extra-large crowds this season. While Hyak has a dedicated sledding hill, there is not a dedicated sledding hill at the new spot. State Parks indicates that the new Sno-Park is for family snow play: think making snow angels, having snowball fights and building snow people.
There is a portable toilet there, but no other facilities.
To park at the Easton Reload Sno-Park, you will need to display a daily or seasonal Non-Motorized Sno-Park permit on your car. A daily pass is $20 and a season pass is $40. Note that you do not need the Special Groomed Trail permit at Easton Reload. (You do need this at Hyak.)
Do not park in the adjacent Motorized Sno-park; it's for snowmobilers. Also, reports indicate that park staff are checking cars for valid permits several times a day and handing out hefty tickets. Much better to just pay for the permit. The parking fees pay for plowing, grooming and maintenance.
We haven't visited the new Easton Reload Sno-Park yet, but we are certain that once word gets out, this will be a popular destination for families seeking snow. Consider a weekday visit or arrive early in the morning to secure a parking spot and avoid disappointment.
Other places to play in the snow
Check out our article on places for Seattle-area families to go sledding and tubing. You'll note that many of these places are far away and/or complicated to visit. Hyak is one of the most accessible and affordable places, leading to its popularity. This new Sno-Park should help, but definitely expect a crowd. As always, keep your distance from other families and mask up when you can't. And if the lot is full or there are lots of people, move on. Good luck!
If you go...
Find it: To reach the new Easton Reload Non-Motorized Sno-Park from Seattle, follow Interstate 90 past Lake Easton State Park and take Exit 71. At the stop sign, head south over the railroad tracks, then right onto Cabin Creek Road. Drive for 3.4 miles to the first Sno-Park on your left.
Parking: You need a Non-Motorized Sno-Park parking permit, $20 daily or $40 for the season to park in the Non-Motorized lot. Do not park in the adjacent motorized Sno-Park parking lot –it's for snowmobilers.
Facilities: There is a portable toilet on site. Bring your own snacks, warm beverages and dry clothes.