Archives for category: Ski White Pass
  1. Snow Play

To access snow play spots out of Packwood here are a few roads that go up into the mountains and snow line.  Packwood is only at the 1000’ level so the snow has to be low in order to reach snow in a reasonable amount of time on some of these road.  Some are plowed, some not.  You should carry chains and exercise caution and always have an emergency kit in the car with you at all times.  Contact the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to check the accessibility of these areas as there can be fallen trees from previous storms.  The Randle Forest Service Office number is 360-497-1103.

Highway 12 East towards White Pass – this is the most popular spot to go to.  At the ski lodge to the right is the perfect place the sled with the kids.  When you get cold head into the lodge for some hot chocolates and one of their famous brownies!  Snow play can also be found across the street from the lodge behind the condos surrounding Leech Lake.  The perfect place for cross country skiing, snow shoeing, winter hiking and some secret stash sledding areas!

Snyder Rd to Packwood Lake – this road is not gated and it is not plowed as well.  Drive to the snowline and find a place to pull off and play in the snow. No winter park pass is required.  If you can make it to the parking area it is well worth the hike in part or all to Packwood Lake.  There are 2 trails.  The trail head from the parking area that is in trees most of the time OR walk back down the road to the gate and the ATV trail.  Hike in a mile or so for some of the most spectacular views of Mt Rainier and the Packwood valley below.  This is a great spot to cross country ski or snowshoe.

Johnson Creek Rd 21 is west of Packwood of 12 – this road is not plowed as well yet it is traveled because there is a snow park up a ways where people park and snow mobile on groomed trails.

Cispus Rd 23 – Go west to Randle, in Randle go left onto 131 then go right onto 23.  This road is plowed for some miles and it follows the Cispus River…gorgeous!  It leads up into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest towards Mt Adams.  Once in the snow there are many spots to pull over and play, sled or snow shoe.

Skate Creek Rd – this road begins to the right of the Shell Station and goes up into the National Forest.  It is closed in the winter but you can drive high enough on paved road to reach the rushing creek and some when the levels are down around 1500-2000’

WHITE PASS SPORTS HUT is so cute and they rent skis, snowboards and snow shoes.  Snowshoes are only $15 a day.  They also know a lot about the area and what to do and where to go!

  1. Have a campfire at the cabin and cook s’mores and hot dogs.
  2. Sit in the hot tub and soak it all in and relax!
  3. Hang out at the Cowlitz River bank and take a walk in lower Timberline
  4. Visit the Packwood Library and check out some books or videos.
  5. At Blanton’s Supermarket checkout a DVDs from their rental room with all the top movies you will ever need!
  6. Winter Fishing – fishing is always open in the Cowlitz. Go down Skate Creek rd and before the bridge walk down to the left to access the river. The upper Cowlitz is stocked with Salmon all year long.
  7. Visit Mt Goat Coffee and Bakery in downtown Packwood. They roast their own beans and make fresh homemade muffins and cookies daily!
  8. Play Bingo at the Packwood Community Center every Friday, doors open at 6PM.
  9. Visit the White Pass County Museum in downtown Packwood

Winter hours start the Saturday following Labor Day and are Saturdays from Noon to 4 PM. If you are in the area and cannot make it on the days that we are open, please call the following phone numbers to arrange for a special tour. Dave or Martha 360-494-4031; Don 360-494-5343; or Janice 360-494-4007.

  1. Visit the Blue Spruce for some great food and kids are welcome. Many draft beers on tap. Every Tuesday night is ALL YOU CAN EAT TACOS for just $2.50.
  2. DeGoede Bulb Farm – Travel west on 12 to Mossyrock. This is a cute little town off highway 12. Past the light is DeGoede Bulb Farm.  This is a beautiful place to visit not just to buy plants and things but they also have a show garden you can walk through!

13 In Morton, our favorite stop is Spiffys.  They have the largest and best soft serve ice cream ever.  The outside food window is open all year.  Travel west on Highway 12 and go right into Morton and then take your next right.  Spiffys is down on the right.  Good burgers and fries too!

14  We really love Cruisers Pizza in Packwood.  Although spendy but there is really no crust like it anywhere.  They have been in Packwood for years and their recipe and goodness has not changed!

  1. Cliffdroppers Burgers are probably the best in Packwood. This family run restaurant has stood the test of time. They handcraft their burgers, the fries are generous too.  The milk shakes are not to be missed as well!
  2. Mount Rainier National Park – is open at the Nisqually entrance for winter recreation and hiking. Make it a day! From Packwood in winter go west on 12, go right at Morton (don’t forget Spiffys ice cream and the Mexican restaurant in Morton has good food and Margaritas as well) on highway 7 go to Elbe.  In Elbe go right onto 706 and head straight to  the Nisqually entrance to Mt Rainier National Park.  The Longmire Visitor Center and restaurant is open in winter and if you like brave the trip to Paradise (weather permitting) and sled, snowshoe and hike in the snow (traction tires and/or cahins are at times required).
  3. Historic Mineral Lake Lodge – This 3-story log lodge has been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It was built in 1906 to resemble the rugged elegance of a German wilderness hunting lodge. This is on the way from Morton to Elbe.
  4. Mineral Lake – Gem of the Northwest – Beautiful web site which showcases some of the highlights of the historic town that is home to the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. This is on the way from Morton to Elbe,
  5. Morton’s Roxy Playhouse – The newly renovated, 1930’s Roxy Playhouse offers onstage action, romance, and laughter captivating audiences through song, dance and dialogue.
  6. Morton Depot – Built in 1910, the two story frame building is one of the last of this type of Milwaukee stations in existence today!
  7. Northwest Trek Wildlife Park – Northwest Trek is a 715-acre wildlife park featuring a 435-acre free-roaming area tram tour. Pacific Northwest native species are exhibited in natural habitats.
  8. The Little White Church in Elbe – This beautiful 18 x 24 foot National Historical Monument still bears the original inscription placed there in 1906 “Ev. Luth. KIRCHE” (Evangelische Lutherische Kirche) a reminder of the people’s origin.
  9. Pioneer Farm Museum & Ohop Indian Village – Journey back to the 1880’s with your tour guides to experience homesteading in Washington. Journey back to a time before the first contact with Europeans to experience the seasonal Ohop Indian Village.

We hope that you stay in a Great NW Cabin this winter (or Summer).  See all our cabins here at Great NW Cabins or call us anyday from 9-9 PST for information and reservations.

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White Pass Ski Resort

It’s amazing over the years how popular White Pass Ski Resort (I call it a resort – sounds more classy) has become.  We built our first cabin in Packwood years ago and it all started that first winter…the phone calls.  People wanted to rent our cabin to go skiing at White Pass.  This is the reason why we built our first cabin…I was addicted to skiing.  We knew that with our busy lifestyle we needed a place to go when we wanted to just relax and unwind.

We discovered White Pass one weekend after packing up the whole family, all their skies, poles, boots, clothing and food to go skiing at Crystal Mt.  A few weeks prior to this we attempted to go skiing at Crystal and the parking lot was full and they turned us away at the bottom of the access road.  Can you believe that it happened a second time?  Yes, here we were, 3 kids, all their gear and after and hour and half drive we get turned around for the second time.   Now I can’t tell you how angry and disappointed I was.  We drive back down the hill to Graham (that’s Graham, WA where we lived at the time) and resolved not to do that again.  We had heard about this smaller ski area called White Pass and we decided to give it a try.

That next weekend we headed to White Pass with the family.  Packed the car, the equipment, the clothes, the food and drove the 2 hours to White Pass.  About 15 miles before the ski area we passed through this little cute town called Packwood.  We were like WOW, that’s cool, a little ski town.  It was a few years later that we explored the town and area only to discover that many people had the same idea…Ski Town…Ski Area…Ski Town…Ski Area…realizing that there were not too many places in the northwest that had little ski towns close to the ski hill.  Packwood was this little peninsula of a town surrounded by mt peaks on all 3 sides and above them all was the majestic Mt Rainier.  It was soon thereafter we bought our first piece of land for $7000 and built that first cabin.  This was the beginning of Great Northwest Cabins.

At the top of Paradise Basin!

Needless to say our first experience at White Pass was a pleasure.  It was, at that time, a smaller family area that was very kid friendly.  You can pull right up to the lodge and unload all your gear and bring your kids right into the childcare.  We were impressed with the childcare, the room, the toys, the staff, were all very helpful.  They have a great program where they take your kids out to play in the snow.  They put them on little kid skies with the goal of helping them to have a good first experience sliding around in the snow.  All 3 of our kids learned to ski at White Pass.  There are 2 free lifts for beginners, the magic carpet and platter…a great learning environment and oh yes did I mention FREE!  Today our whole family is avid skiers and we love our annual ski trips to White Pass.

We had heard about this expansion plan that White Pass was working on for over 2 decades.  Because it was taking so long no one in town really believed it would happen.  Well kudos to the staff at White Pass because it did happen.  White Pass doubled its skiable acreage with 2 new lifts and a beautiful mid mountain lodge.  When you venture back to this new area called “Paradise Basin” you feel like your skiing little Whistler.

So what does a day look like for the Trombi family at White Pass?  Well, we first get up at about 7:30 at the cabin and get ready to head up the pass which is only 12-15 mi away, depending on what cabin you are staying at.  We make our own lunch, sandwiches and top Ramon are in order with drinks and snacks packed in the backpack.  Highway 12 (now the White Pass Scenic Byway) is so well taken care of you rarely ever have to put chains on unless it’s just dumping as you head up.  We still pull right up to the lodge, even though our kids are older now, to unload the skies and equipment.  The family heads in to put their boots on and get ready for a great day!

I park the car and head over to buy the lift tickets and then head into the lodge to put my boots on.  After attaching all lift tickets, with back pack lunch in tow, we head up the Great White quad lift.  At the top we now ski over to the Basin Quad and take that up as well.  Our first stop is the new lodge called High Camp.  This is a beautiful new timber lodge with a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier. It’s a great place to take a break or eat lunch after skiing the runs of Paradise Basin. We stash our lunch here and get ready to ski the basin for the first half of the day.  First we head to the detachable quad called the Coulier Express just right below the lodge.  This is the highest lift at White Pass and accesses all the great runs of the basin.  Most are great cruisers.  When it’s clear there is no better view of Mt Rainier and the surrounding peaks anywhere in the state of Washington.

White Pass gets over 400 inches of snow every year so it is not unusual to have fresh powder every other day even late into the season.  And because this area leans more towards the east side of the Cascades the snow is a lot drier then say Crystal or Stevens Pass.  I went skiing with some friends last year in April and we had sunshine and 8″ of fresh POW.  It was perfect.  Once you get off the lift and go right towards the West Ridge Access Trail and you have all the back country glade and bowl skiing your legs can handle.  That day we were skiing the open fields of powder all morning making fresh tracks up till lunch time.

Spring Skiing POW in Paraside Basin Bowl

After a morning of cruising and fun we head to the High Camp Lodge.  Time to eat!  There is nothing like a great lunch after a morning of crusing.  The lodge offers some great food and microbrews if you didn’t bring your lunch.  On a sunny day sit outside as the staff fires up the bbq and serves it up.  For dessert my kids love the homemade brownies and cookies.

High Camp Lodge at Paradise Basin, White Pass

After skiing the back side we over to the front side.  You can ski past the Yurt to chair 4 and take that back up to the top or you can ski all the way to the base and take Great White up again.  It’s fun either way.  Now it’s time to ski our old time favorite trails like Cascade and Holiday.  I’ll never forget my youngest daughter at 6 years old.  She had taken classes for a few years and I would take her out and she would ski between my legs.  That year we headed to Holiday and she insisted that she could do it alone.  I pushed her off and she just started going, turning and screaming for joy.  I never from that point on had to ski with her between my legs.

After cruising down Cascade my kids love to take every little trail and shoot…so much fun.  And perhaps maybe a run down Cascade Cliff or the famous mogul trail Holiday Cliff.

The last area that we love (this used to be refereed to as back side) is the 4 trails surrounding chair 4…Paradise, Quail, or Grouse.  On the Paradise Trail is our traditional 3:15 stop at the famous White Pass Yurt.  This place has character and is full of people and families that have been stopping here for years.  Come on in and relax, warm up and get a big cup of hot chocolate, cold beer and another famous brownie.  Anyone we have ever taken skiing at White Pass has experienced the Yurt.  In spring, skiers and boarders are stewn out around the yurt laughing and enjoying the sunshine and atmosphere of a very special place.

The Yurt at White Pass

Time to head down and call it a day.  Tucking the cat track is in order.  A little poling and you are back at the lodge.  With no kids another drink in the bar next to the fireplace might be in order or perhaps the hot tub at the cabin is calling you only 12 mi away.

Drinks on the deck of White Pass main Lodge at the end of the day!

We all hope that mom put a stew in the crock pot at the cabin because we are sure hungry.  If not a Cruisers Pizza is always a great alternative in town.  Another beautiful day at the ever increasing popular White Pass!  Another relaxing night in the bedroom community of Packwood, WA…the still undiscovered Ski Town at the base of Mt Rainier!

For information about White Pass log onto http://www.skiwhitepass.com

To rent one of our 4 custom built ski cabins log onto http://www.greatnorthwestcabins.com  or call us anyday from 9-9 PST at 503-492-8783.  We would be glad to answer any question you may have about our cabins!

We hope you stay with us, you will not be disappointed!