As soon as the snow falls in the Tri-Cities, you can find a nearby mountain to don your skis or snowboards and do some snow surfing at Bluewood! This family owned ski area lies in Columbia County near the Blue Mountains near the Umatilla National Forest. It has north-facing slopes that keep the snow cool and easy to pack for groomed runs. Ski Bluewood is planning to open for the 2020 season to the pleasure of many in the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla. The mountain has long since been a hidden gem, treasured by eastern Washington locals.
The trip to Dayton is an easy drive from the Tri-Cities. It takes less than two hours to reach the resort’s parking lot from Kennewick. Dayton is at the base of the uphill drive to the slopes and there are food and grocery options available there. This means that you can stop to pick up drinks and snacks to take with you for the day or enjoy a warm breakfast before you hit the 1,125’ of vertical mountain trails and slopes. Parking is free, so be ready to enjoy the 400 acres of terrain without worrying about reserving a parking space.
Bluewood’s normal hours of operation are from 9 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. from Thursday to Sunday, but it’s always a good idea to call ahead to make sure everything is operating for your scheduled day on the mountain (509.382.4725). They offer four different chair lifts servicing their 24 runs, taking skiers and boarders to green (beginner), blue (intermediate), and black (difficult) slopes. The summit stands at a staggering 5,670 feet, with a base of 4,545’. Bluewood has a capacity of over 6,000 people per hour (COVID restrictions could change this), so there’s space for all.
Ticket prices are quite affordable at the mountain with weekend rates averaging $50.00. Seniors over 70 can ski for free any day that the area is open. Military members earn steep discounts, as do those who just want to take one ride to the top. Children six and under are also free, so families are always encouraged to enjoy Bluewood. The park has been open for over 40 years, with an average snowfall of 300”, and conveniently close proximity to the Tri-Cities.
After a day in the snow, and hopefully sun shining through the pines, a stop in Dayton for dinner before driving home is a must. Tripadvisor rates Weinhard’s Café and Bakery as the number one destination, and Chief Spring’s Brew Pub for its excellent pizza. It’s easy to work up an appetite after a day skiing or snowboarding and there are a number of restaurants in Dayton that offer sustenance to get you home to the Tri-Cities.