Sledding is the definition of a screaming-good time. We've tracked down six awesome sledding hills where you can go to enjoy the thrill of slipping and sliding your way down a snow-packed hill (weather permitting, of course). Speaking of which, don't forget to check conditions before you go. Many of these spots include a nearby indoor area for resting and warming up, but in any case be sure to dress warmly and bring a dry change of clothes for little ones. Adhesive hand and foot warmers (available at many stores) can be a great tool for keeping little fingers and toes toasty. We also recommend bringing along plenty of snacks and — for bonus points! — a thermos of hot cocoa.
And if you have other sledding tips or information to add, please post below in comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just off I-90 at exit 53, The Summit at Snoqualmie's tubing center is hugely popular with kids and grown-ups and delivers exhausted, joyful kids. You can either walk back to the top of the hill or ride your tube back up using a rope tow. The Summit recommends that children be at least 3 years old before tubing, but does not restrict admission for families with younger children who want to try. Tip: Children less than 42 inches tall can ride double with a parent. Personal sledding devices are prohibited.
Fee: Regular admission for a two-hour session is $22–$24 for everyone older than 5, and $5 for children 5 and younger (sharing a tube with an adult). Summit season passholders pay only a $5 tube-rental fee. Important: Book your session online before you go to make sure there's space. (Tip: Seahawks games or Super Bowl Sunday = great time to go.)
Status: As of Dec. 22, the tubing area is open. But double-check before you go.
Hours: 9 a.m.–5:45 p.m.; check the website for updates on hours and conditions. Tip: evening tubing hours start Dec. 26.
Warm up: There is a small café with restrooms onsite, or, for more seating and options, the new Silver Fir Day Lodge is nearby (though a bit of a walk). One exit down I-90, exit 52, you can enjoy microbrews and an upscale pub menu at Dru Bru Brewery.
Want to tube but don't want to have to book your session at Snoqualmie before you go? Suncadia might be your answer. East of Summit at Snoqualmie off I-90 — at exit 80, Roslyn/Salmon La Sac — the splendid Suncadia Resort offers a number of winter-fun activities, including a smaller tubing hill (with rope tow) that is open to the public, located next to the Swiftwater Winery, about a half mile from the lodge. Kids must be 42 inches or taller to tube and must ride in their own tube, though they can hook up to an adult's tube. There is a waiver required. There is also a small ice-skating rink at Suncadia next to the swim center, and cross-country skiing when there is enough snow (you can rent equipment at Suncadia). And near the tubing hill, kids who aren't into sledding can play in the snow while the others sled.
Fee: $20 per rider per three-hour session.
Status: As of Dec. 22, the tubing hill is open and plans to be daily during winter break (through Jan. 1). Check the website or call (509-649-6400) for status before heading out.
Hours: Open from 10 a.m.–4 p.m, on winter weekends, weather dependent, or daily during winter break (Dec. 17–Jan. 1).
Warm up: Next to the sledding hill, Swiftwater Cellars offers noshing (sandwiches, pasta, flatbreads, salads and a kids' menu) and wine tasting for the grown-ups (open daily, 11:30 a.m.–close). You can also head to the main Suncadia lodge after tubing — about a half mile from the tubing hill — for espresso or cocoa at the Coal House Caffee stand at the gift shop and settle in the lodge's great hall to enjoy the rustic-luxe ambiance and stunning view of Mount Baldy. There are also two restaurants onsite, though quite pricey (Fifty 6° is a more-casual option).
About a two-hour drive from Seattle, Leavenworth's Ski Hill is a small ski area with two Alpine runs (serviced by rope tows), a tubing hill (also with rope tows) and 26 kilometers of cross-country skiing/snowshoe trails. It tends to have more snow and earlier snow than the Summit. On the tubing hill, all tubers must sled independently. Recommended age is 8 and older, though kids as young as 4 have tubed.
Fee: $20 for 90-minute session with inner tube provided. $32 gets you a full day of Alpine or Nordic skiing plus a 1.5-hour tubing session. Tip: They offer a one-time free trial ride prior to purchasing a ticket.
Status: As of Dec. 22, the tubing hill is open; check website for updates.
Hours: Open daily through Jan. 2, 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. (closing at 3 p.m. Dec. 24 and closed Dec. 25; check the website for updates.
Warm up: Food, beverages and warmth are available at the historic Ski Hill Lodge. Or drive two miles away to Leavenworth for cafes, Bavarian dining, microbrews, candy shops and lights. Note: People often sled in the Town Park, located in the center of downtown, despite the ubiquitous "no sledding" signs.
The only place where sledding is permitted in the national park is the designated snow play area immediately north of the upper parking lot at Paradise, near the Jackson Visitor Center (which you can access through the Nisqually entrance to the park). The entrance to the park is located about 87 miles from Seattle, about 65 miles from Tacoma.
This ungroomed area is supervised by park rangers. Wooden toboggans and sleds with metal runners are prohibited. You can also take guided snowshoe walks from the center.
Fee: $25 fee to enter the park for a private vehicle; no cost for sledding.
Hours: The Paradise play area typically opens in late December or early January, depending on the snow pack. Once open, it's typically open on weekends, from 9 a.m.–4:15 p.m., and daily during school breaks.
Warm up: Head to the Jackson Visitor Center, where you can visit the snack bar, use restrooms and warm up between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
This groomed sledding hill located off of I-90 exit 54, near Snoqualmie East, Hyak is a Washington State Parks snow play area, and is not affiliated with the Summit at Snoqualmie ski resort. The area is groomed up to five times a week (depending on conditions) but is not supervised by rangers or snow patrol. You can also go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on the groomed trail. Tip: The parking lot can fill up. Go early or late in the day to avoid crowds.
Fee: No admission fee, but you'll need to have a daily Sno-Park permit for your car and a daily or annual Discover Pass; OR a Seasonal Sno Park Permit plus Special Groomed Trails Permit sticker, without Discover Pass. ; there is an electronic pay station where you can buy one-day Sno-Park or Discover Pass permits. Bathrooms are the only onsite amenity. Note: This Sno-Park gets VERY crowded; go early or late to avoid peak times.
Hours: Hyak is open daily from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Status: As of Dec. 22, the Hyak Sno-Park, including the sledding hill, are open. Status changes daily; be sure to call 509-656-2230 for a recorded message about current conditions before heading out.
Warm up: If you're headed back to Seattle, there are lots of great options in North Bend (about a half an hour's drive) like the popular Scott's Dairy Freeze. But if you need to get somewhere quick, there are a few options available in the nearby Snoqualmie Pass area (about 10 mintues), such as the Summit Pancake House and Red Mountain Coffee.
Another option — for kids ages 8 and under only — is sledding on the small hill west of the visitor center. The national park permits kids to sled and tube for free (though all visitors to the national park pay the entrance fee) with their tubes or plastic sleds. Runner sleds are not permitted. Kids ages 9 and older and adults are not allowed to sled here; they can tube at the ski area's dedicated tubing hill.
Fee: At the ski area: $10 for a one-hour session, including tube. Free sledding and tubing for kids ages 8 and under with their own sleds at the hill by the visitor center.
Warm-up: The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is usually open and has restrooms, exhibits, a park film, and warming area. From mid-December to the end of March, the Hurricane Ridge Snack Bar and Rental Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and holiday Mondays. Check here for exact dates.
This Chelan-area ski and tubing hill is a bit too far away for a day trip (3–4 hour drive from Seattle), but if you have the time, take a few days and book a place to stay. With rope tows and a four-lane tubing hill, this volunteer, nonprofit resort is a great option for families who want to get away.
Fee: $10 for a full-day pass ($8 for a half-day) for tubing with tube provided. Free for kids ages 5 and under.
Status: Echo Valley's website indicates it's plannign to open soon, as of Dec. 22. Check the website for updates.
Hours: Open daily, check the website for holiday hours.
Warm-up: The base area has a day-lodge with a roaring fireplace and an eatery.
Editor's note: This article was originally written in 2012 and updated in December 2016.