Ski-In Hot Springs of the Pacific Northwest
Scenic Hot Springs
The hot spring: Down a sturdy wooden stairway, along the edge of a bluff, sit four handmade pools, varying in temperature from very hot to warm, that look out over a mountain and canyon in the Cascades. Elevation: 3,500 feet.
The skiing: This is more a hike-in than a ski-in hot spring, but it's so beautiful, and so close to lots of cross-country skiing, that we've included it anyway. The first mile or so is skiable, but it's a steep ascent to those springs, and you'll probably want to take off your skis and hike the last part of the way at least. The distance is about two miles each way.
Location: In the central Cascade Mountains, west of Skykomish, off Route 2.
How to get there: The hot spring is on private land. Visitors who respect the property are quite welcome, but the land-owners don't want directions published. For more information, write to Friends of Scenic Hot Springs, PO Box 268, Skykomish, WA 98288. Donations are also welcome.
Olympic Hot Springs
The hot spring: This is a beautiful, well-forested setting, along the south bank of Boulder Creek, in the northern part of Olympic National Park. There are seven or eight hot springs or pools of various temperaturesfrom lukewarm to much-too-hotalong the edge of tumbling Boulder Creek. Though very popular in the warmer seasons, it's reasonably quiet in the winter, when the road is closed. Elevation is about 2,060 feet.
The skiing: You'll have at least a four-mile ski each way, uphill going in, along a lightly graded road, through a dense forest of Douglas fir and hemlock. The Park Service doesn't plow the entire length of the road here, so you may have a longer ski, depending on how much snow there is.
Location: The northern Olympic Peninsula, southwest of Port Angeles.
How to get there: Travel west on Route 101 from Port Angeles, turn left onto Olympic Hotprings Road, just before the Elwha River. Drive toward the Elwha Ranger Station. Park when you get to barricades or to the unplowed part of the road, and start skiing. Continue along the road, over the Elwha River, and past the Altaire campground, toward the Boulder Creek Campground. When you get to the Boulder Creek campground, follow a path to the creek and cross over on the bridge. The hot-spring pools extend downstream from the bridge. (See Delorme Washington Atlas & Gazeteer, pp. 76 and 92.)
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication