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Best Places to Go Sledding and Tubing for Seattle-Area Kids and Families

From the Summit at Snoqualmie’s screaming-fun tubing hill to Mount Rainier’s snow-play area.

December 21, 2017

Sledding is the definition of a screaming-good time. We’ve tracked down a handful of 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, we recommend always checking conditions and opening status 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.

You can also check out ParentMap’s family guides on skiing and snowshoeing.

1. Snoqualmie Tubing Area

 Tubing Center at Summit of Snoqualmie

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 on the new magic carpet. 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 $23–$25 for everyone older than 5, and $5 for children age 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: After its first weekend up and running, the tubing center is scheduled to be open again Wednesday, Dec. 20, for operations. As always, check the website or Facebook page for updates.

Hours: Open Friday–Sunday; hours are determined by weather conditions. During winter break and other school closures, the tubing area is generally open on weekdays. Check the website for updates on hours and conditions.

Warm up: There is a small café with restrooms onsite, or, for more seating and options, the Silver Fir Day Lodge is nearby (though a bit of a walk). One exit down I-90, exit 52, you can enjoy microbrews at Dru Bru Brewery. They don’t serve food but they encourage you to bring your own!

2. Suncadia Tubing Hill

Courtesy Suncadia

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 at least 3 years old and 36 inches or taller to tube and must ride in their own 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 two-hour session.

Status: As of Dec. 18, the tubing hill is closed. A note on Suncadia’s website says operating dates are pending the weather. Be sure to check the website or call 509-649-6461 for status before heading out.

Hours: Two-hour sessions available from 8 a.m.–4 p.m, on winter weekends, weather dependent, and typically, daily during winter break.

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 Coffee 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 Degrees is a more-casual option).

3. Leavenworth’s Tubing Park at Ski Hill

Leavenworth tubing hill.

About a two-hour drive from Seattle, Leavenworth’s Ski Hill is a small ski area with two Alpine runs (serviced by rope tows), 26 kilometers of cross-country skiing/snowshoe trails and a tubing hill named for Lt. Michael Adams, a Westpoint graduate killed in Iraq in 2004. The tube lift was purchased in large part with donations made my Lt. Adams’ family and friends. Leavenworth tends to have more snow and earlier snow than the Summit, but not always. 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 one free ride prior to purchasing a ticket to make sure your kids will enjoy it.

Status: As of Dec. 18, the tubing hill is closed, as are the rope tows, lodge, nordic trails and other facilities, pending more snow. Be sure to confirm what you’re after is open by checking the website before heading out.

Hours: Once open, the tubing hill will be open daily through Jan. 2, 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. (closing at 3 p.m. Dec. 24 and closed Dec. 25; be sure to confirm by check the website before heading out.

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 Leavenworth, despite the ubiquitous “no sledding” signs.

4. Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier snow play area.

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.

Status: Currently closed but typically opens late December. Check the Mount Rainier NPS twitter feed or the website for frequent updates, conditions and requirements.

Hours: As of Dec. 18, the Paradise play area is not open. It typically opens in late December or early January, depending on the snow pack. Once open, it’s generally 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 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

5. Hyak Sno-Park

Hyak Sno-Park

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 a 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.; sledding hill is closed.

Status: As of Dec. 18, the recorded message at 509-656-2230 states the sledding hill is closed. Status changes daily; 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-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.

6. Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge.

Located 17 miles from Port Angeles in Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge has a small skiing and snowboarding area that also has a dedicated tubing run. Stop by the Hurrican Ridge visitor center for restrooms, exhibits, movie and warming area. There is also a snack bar. Check weather and road conditions online.

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. The dedicated tubing hill is a walk up; no tow rope. Free sledding and tubing for kids ages 8 and under with their own sleds at the hill by the visitor center.

Status: As of Dec. 18, currently closed but scheduled to be open Saturday, Dec. 23 and then daily Dec. 26–Jan. 1. Conditions are variable so before heading out, check the website or Hurricane Ridge Twitter feed for updates.

Hours: Typically open 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday holidays. Check website and Twitter feed for condition updates and information on whether the road is closed.

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.

7. Echo Valley

Echo Valley. Photo Credit: Terrie Carleton

This Chelan-area ski and tubing hill would be a very ambitious 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: $15 for a full-day pass ($10 for a half-day) for tubing with tube provided. Free for kids ages 5 and under and fifth graders. Fifth graders ski and tub for free here.

Status: As of Dec. 18, closed. Echo Valley’s website indicates it’s aiming to open on Dec. 19. 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.

 


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