Here’s where to camp lift-side at some of the best ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest

Wake up next to the slopes on this winter road trip through Washington and Oregon, plotted by pro skier and adventurer Kalen Thorien

Kalen Thorien at Mt. Bachelor. | Photo: Will Rockfort

If you’re a die-hard skier looking for deep snow, fun terrain, and lift-side camping, this Pacific Northwest road trip is for you. If possible, you should spend multiple days at each resort, and maybe even add a detour to the coast to really cap off an epic adventure.

This route will take you to deep snow, stunning views, great terrain, and a cold beverage at the end of the day. Every stop brings you to a different resort that has its own charm—but most importantly, each one allows overnight camping in designated lots for a small cost.

Mt Baker Ski Area
Photo: Shane Treat

1. Mount Baker Ski Area, Bellingham, Washington

This gem is no secret among avid skiers, but it’s definitely hidden deep in the Northern Cascades. The remote location makes the crowd-to-epic skiing ratio very tolerable. Expert skiers will have a blast on Mount Baker’s technical, steep terrain—but the area also sports plenty of blues and greens for beginners.

Once you’ve skied out all the snow in bounds, grab your skins and access the backcountry. When conditions are safe, you can continue the powder feast in the endless trees and big bowls surrounding the resort. As an added bonus, you can ski right to your camper at the end of the day and enjoy the parking lots festivities. Or head into the small town of Glacier for a delicious meal at Chair 9, a local grub spot where you can swap stories with locals and rest your tired legs.

2. Stevens Pass Ski Resort, Skykomish, Washington

Our next stop takes you to a Washington classic—Stevens Pass. The drive alone is stunning with jagged peaks of the Cascades dotting the skyline. Like Baker, Stevens has a variety of terrain for all skill levels, and the mountain even offers night skiing for those not ready to call it a day when the sun sets. Stevens also allows overnight camping, which can be reserved through the online registration system.

Whether it’s to spend the night or to grab a cup of coffee in the morning, make sure you hit the Bavarian-inspired town of Leavenworth. Breweries and bratwursts are aplenty, and it’s a great spot to kick back and pretend you’re deep in the heart of the Alps.

Camping lift-side at Alpental.
Photo: Mark Erickson

3. Alpental Ski Resort, Snoqualmie, Washington

Alpental is a challenging, no-frills resort that will test even the best skiers with its technical terrain, big cliffs, and die-hard locals who have no problem snaking your turns if you’re moving too slow. The reward is some of the best skiing in Washington with an old-school feel. At the end of the day, head back to your RV at the famous Lot 4, where locals and fellow vagabonds will be crowded around small fires, swapping stories. You can even catch a run or two during night skiing. Head to the Backcountry Bar to warm up and dry out your powder-soaked outerwear.

If expert runs don’t sit well with everybody in your group, head across Interstate 90 to The Summit at Snoqualmie, where beginner and intermediate terrain is endless.

Photo: Kalen Thorien

4. Crystal Mountain Resort, Enumclaw, Washington

Crystal Mountain is a higher-end resort that breaks up the monotony of tight trees and pillow skiing with its wide-open faces and powder-filled bowls. The views of Mount Rainier are amazing, so kick back with lunch at the summit and catch a glimpse of Washington’s highest peak. Ski back to the base where your warm camper awaits, thanks to the RV hookups provided by the resort.

Grab dinner at the funky Snorting Elk Cellar Bar where the historic, ski-inspired decor will have your eyes dancing along the walls—while locals talk you into doing a round on their famous shot-ski.

Kalen Thorien skiing at Mt. Hood Meadows.
Photo: Will Rochford

5. Mount Hood Meadows, Mount Hood, Oregon

In Oregon, make your way to Mount Hood Meadows or Timberline ski areas. Both offer a variety of terrain and cater especially well to beginner and intermediate skiers. Experts might be a bit bored, so if you need a challenge, head across the highway to Skibowl to get your black diamond fill. Thanks to Mount Hood Meadows’ generous night skiing hours, you can get your fix even after the sun goes down.

Related From snow to sea: The perfect Northwest Oregon road trip

Be sure to stop at Pfriem Family Brewers in Hood River for lunch, and then weave your way toward Mount Hood, where this stunning volcano dominates the skyline.

6. Mount Bachelor, Bend, Oregon

Last but not least, it’s time to cap off this road trip with Mount Bachelor. Just outside the cute town of Bend, Oregon, Bachelor sports a healthy mix of intermediate terrain, great views, and—of course—a parking lot ready for you to camp in. Head to the summit to see if you can spot views of the various volcanoes dotting the horizon. Ski down to the West Village Lodge for a drink on the deck or head into Bend for a night on the town.