December 16th, 2015

Hit The Slopes: Ski at These Amazing National Parks

Make your next ski trip an adventure of a lifetime when you head to these national park mountains.

When you think national parks, you probably think of the Grand Canyon, the towering granite faces of Yosemite, and the geothermal magic of Yellowstone. But we’re willing to guess skiing doesn’t typically come to mind. Planning to hit the slopes this winter? Think beyond the big name ski spots like Vail, Aspen, or Killington, to America’s national parks, which offer some great skiing opportunities.

Olympic National Park

Situated on the Washington state coast, Olympic National Park includes some awesome mountain environments, so it’s no surprise that this coastal gem offers up amazing skiing adventures. At 5,420 feet, the summit of Hurricane Ridge may not be the highest point in our national parks; but what it lacks in elevation, it makes up for in snowfall, boasting an annual average snowfall of more than 400 inches. Hurricane Ridge is one of the three remaining lift-serviced ski areas in the national park system

When To Go: Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area is open from mid December through March.

Grand Teton National Park

If big-time backcountry skiing is your fancy, then the mountains of Grand Teton National Park might be up your alley. With peaks as high as 13,770, skiing here is not for the faint of heart, and with the intensity of the terrain, having a guide would be a huge benefit. Teton Backcountry Guides offers guided skiing and snowboarding tours in and around Jackson Hole. But if you do plan to do it on your own, do so with a buddy, and be sure to carry — and know how to use — avalanche gear.

When To Go: Though it varies slightly among the different resorts, ski season at Grand Teton typically runs from late November or early December through late March or early April.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is home to California’s oldest ski area, Badger Pass, which also happens to be one of only three lift-serviced ski areas among the national parks in the U.S.

Badger Pass offers traditional lift-accessible resort skiing as well as access to backcountry and cross-country skiing, so no matter what you are looking for, you are likely to find it here. The resort area offers 10 trails serviced by five lifts and, for those who like to get a little crazy, two terrain parks.

When To Go: Badger Pass Ski Area opens December 11, 2015 and typically closes in late March.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Ohio may not jump off the map and scream, “Hey, you can ski here!” But, Boston Mills/Brandywine Ski Resort in Cuyahoga Valley National Park does just that. Boston Mills/Brandywine is a full-featured ski resort complete with lessons, lifts, and other winter adventure activities, like snow tubing. The resort features 40 skiable acres with seven trails and eight lifts, so waiting in line should never be a concern.

When To Go: Boston Mills\Brandywine Ski Area hasn’t announced its opening day, but it’s typically in mid- to late-December.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

If the gentle glide of cross-country skiing is more your style, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (which are side-by-side) offer nearly limitless potential to be explored by skis, as long as there’s sufficient snowpack. Keep in mind that if you intend to stay overnight, a wilderness permit is required for camping in the backcountry. One great option to consider is the Pear Lake Ski Hut in Sequoia National Park. For about $40 a night, skiers can set up basecamp at this historic cabin at 9,200 feet, for adventures deep into the wilderness.

When To Go: There’s no official opening day for cross-country skiing in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks; as long as there is sufficient snow, you can make it happen.

Now that you are armed with all this great info, it’s time to get planning. Where will you head on your national park ski adventure? Tell us in the comments below!

Patrick Gensel is a world-roaming visual storyteller with a special place in his heart for action sports and the natural world. No matter where Patrick is, you can always find him sharing his stories on, Instagram, and Twitter

by Patrick Gensel

Patrick Gensel is a world-roaming, visual storyteller with a special place in his heart for action sports and the natural world. No matter where Patrick is, you can always find him sharing his stories on, Instagram, and Twitter

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