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2016-17 Ski Season
Big improvements for these mountain resorts
The snow has arrived in many prime ski areas throughout the Northwest and skiers and boarders will notice some big improvements at certain ski resorts for the 2016-2017 season. Whether it's investments in new lodges or just spending money on more grooming equipment, several Northwest ski areas are spending money to improve their facilities.

Crystal Mountain

A favorite for Northwest skiers and boarders 1 is Crystal Mountain, which is about 45 miles southeast of the small town of Enumclaw, and still in easy range for Seattle day skiers. It's really the only ski resort in Washington state if you're looking for abundant on-hill lodging and resort services.

About 400,000 skiers go to Crystal Mountain each year and this year they will see that the lodge sundeck at Crystal now has a large umbrella covering more than 150 seats. Heaters also have been added. And if you're visiting Crystal in your RV, you'll be glad to know they added 30 new hook-ups this year, making a total of 72.

Crystal of course has its famous gondola that takes you way atop the mountain in comfort -- a big attraction for skiers and boarders.

For more information, please visit www.crystalmountainresort.com or phone 360-663-2265.

Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass, located on Highway 2, is one of the Pacific Northwest's best-known ski areas and is within easy driving distance for day skiers from Seattle. It's a beautiful drive on Highway 2, either from the Seattle side or from eastern Washington. Your reward when you get to the top is one of the Northwest's finest ski areas.

There are 1,800 vertical feet of skiing and boarding on three sides of two different mountains. Cowboy Mountain, the highest, is more than 5800 feet high.

About 54 percent of the trails at Stevens Pass are intermediate terrain, so a lot of families use the area.

Parking has always been an issue at Stevens so the ski area this year spent $1.9 million on upgrades that include a new 250-car lot. About 90 spots were added to current lots.

That's bound to be a big improvement this year and eliminate some of the hassle on busy weekends. But Stevens Pass skiers are well advised to arrive early to make certain they have convenient parking.

For more information, please visit www.stevenspass.com or phone 206-812-4510.

Summit at Snoqualmie

Summit at Snoqualmie is an area just east of Seattle on Highway 90. This is where many, many Northwest skiers and boarders first learned how to ski or snowboard.

Altogether there are nearly 2,000 acres of skiable terrain and the area encompasses four different ski areas when you count nearby Alpental. Alpental has 2,200 feet of vertical drop while the other three areas have about half that.

There is a total of 26 different lifts including some high speed quads, so you know Stevens can accommodate a lot of skiers -- about 35,000 skiers an hour to be exact. About 45 percent of the terrain is intermediate, and it's a great place for skiers of all levels.

This year the ski area added two magic carpet lifts to assist new skiers and tubers -- so now even more people can learn to ski at Snoqualmie.

For more information, please visit www.summit-at-snoqualmie.com or phone 425-434-7669.

Whistler-Blackcomb

Whistler-Blackcomb is located north of Vancouver B.C. It's a bit of a drive for Washington skiers and it can be a hassle driving through the Vancouver metro area, but Whistler-Blackcomb is well worth it.

Skiers and boarders love the consistently deep snow, the legendary terrain and the ease getting up the mountain in the world-class gondola system. Not to mention all of the lodgings in the general area and, of course, the famous Whistler Village with its incredible atmosphere that is the perfect complement to a day of skiing.

Whistler-Blackcomb consistently is rated the No. 1 ski resort in North America, so that tells you something.

The big improvement you'll see this year at Whistler-Blackcomb is the grooming -- the resort spent $3.3 million to upgrade its grooming fleet. Those grooming machines cover 1,300 acres a day. The resort also spent $2.4 million to upgrade its learning center.

For more information, please visit www.whistlerblackcomb.com or phone 1-888-403-4727.

Schweitzer Mountain

Schweitzer Mountain is in the Idaho Panhandle, about 65 miles south of the Canadian border. The resort has 2,900 acres of varied terrain for both skiing and snowboarding.

It's a great place for non-skiers as well with a lot of activities like an on-site spa, dining and shopping all located in the village. Schweitzer offers many lodging options ranging from classic-style hotel rooms to full ski-in/ski-out condominiums.

This year Schweitzer Mountain has a new 9,000-square-foot summit lodge that is opening after more than a year of constructions.

The $3.8 million lodge really has it all -- a restaurant as well as cafeteria-style dining and a bar. The views from the lodge are spectacular and includes parts of Idaho, Montana, Washington and British Columbia. The ski area also spent more than $900,000 upgrading food and beverage service, rental gear and grooming equipment. For more information, please visit www.schweitzer.com or phone 208-263-9555.
PHOTOS: Crystal Mountain gondola
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