Destination: Washington

Washington state is almost two different worlds.  On the west side of the Cascade Mountains are the big population centers, the Puget Sound and, of course, the Pacific Ocean.  Cross the Cascades in the winter and it’s almost surreal. The crowds thin out, the snow piles up and there are seemingly endless places to explore, including from the seat of a snowmobile. The challenge is to slow down enough to take it all it.  You can experience snowmobiling in more than a dozen riding areas, each with a little something different to offer. The riding areas closest to the Cascade Range offer incredible views of Washington’s rugged mountains and most famous peaks, including Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Baker. In the middle and eastern side of the state is some of the best backcountry riding you’ll find from border to border. And down in the southeast corner of the state are the Blue Mountains, an island of riding that is far from the masses.  With few exceptions, the world on the east side of the Cascades is covered in white during the winter months. Covered deep. Seven of the top 14 spots in the United States with more than 400 inches of snow a year can be found within the borders of the Evergreen State. Rainier Paradise Ranger Station leads the way with 674.2 inches of snow each year, followed by Stevens Pass (493.2 inches), Santiam Pass (453.3), Snoqualmie Pass (439.9) and Stampede Pass (438.7). That’s between 36 to 56 feet of snow.  A good source of information for riding in Washington state is on the state’s parks website, www.parks.wa.gov/winter, and then navigate to the sno-parks section where you’ll find trail maps