3 US National Parks Where You Can Ski, Snowboard and Tube!

Cathy Bennett Kopf Avatar
Winter landscape at Hurricane Ridge a downhill ski facility in Washington's Olympic National Park
Photo credit: Greg Birch

Looking for a unique outdoor adventure this winter? Three of the US National Parks have full-service downhill ski and snowboard centers complete with lifts and lessons!

Here’s what you need to know to plan an epic getaway you’ll be bragging about all summer long.

Visiting US National Parks in Winter

America’s best National Parks attract millions of visitors each year to photograph drool-worthy landscapes, hike epic trails and see native wildlife. And kids can earn Junior Ranger badges, one of the fun activities that make the national parks popular family vacation destinations.

Most of the US national parks are open year-round, but summer is the most popular, and crowded, season. Spring, fall and winter have their own unique appeal with less people and it’s one of the reasons you might want to consider an off-season visit to the most popular parks.

Winter, in particular, must be incredibly beautiful. 


Watching a herd of bison stroll across a snow-covered field in Yellowstone. 

Or hiking in solitary splendor along the shores of Acadia’s Jordan Pond.

Or snowboarding in Yosemite.

Wait. What?

If, like me, you had no idea that you could ski, snowboard and snow tube in America’s national parks, read on to learn more.

Read More: When’s the best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier or Yosemite?

Chairlift at Badger Pass, a ski area in Yosemite National Park, one of three US national parks that have skiing and snowboarding
Badger Pass is Yosemite’s full-service ski and snowboard area. Photo credit: Kenny Karst/Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

Where Can You Ski and Snowboard in US National Parks?

I’ve always assumed cross-country skiing is permitted in the national parks that have significant seasonal snowfall. That’s a quiet, meditative seasonal activity that seems in keeping with the grand natural setting of America’s national parks. 

But downhill skiing and snowboarding? Believe it or not, three US National Parks have full downhill ski and snowboard operations:

And, for those of us who don’t ski or snowboard, there’s snowtubing too!

Following is information about Badger Pass, Boston Mills/Brandywine and Hurricane Ridge, the three downhill ski centers located within US National Parks.

Read More: Essential Tips for Snow Tubing with Kids

Family skiing and snowboarding in Yosemite National Park at Badger Pass, one of three US national parks with downhill skiing and snowboarding
Families can enjoy the epic landscape of Yosemite while skiing and snowboarding at Badger Pass. Photo credit: Trey Clark/Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

Yosemite National Park

My family popped into California’s grand national park one summer when we were visiting several West Coast colleges. We did a quick sweep of Yosemite’s must-see attractions including Bridalveil Fall, El Capitan and Half Dome. It’s been on my list to return ever since.

I imagine the rugged landscape covered in snow is a true winter wonderland. And there’s a full range of seasonal sporting opportunities offered at Badger Pass Ski Area, including:

  • Downhill skiing and snowboarding
  • Snowtubing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Backcountry ski tours

Operating since 1935, Badger Pass opens annually in mid-December and the season ends in late March, depending on the natural snowfall. It’s a family-friendly, full-service resort area with equipment rentals, lessons and a snowboard terrain park. Eighty-five percent of the 10 ski runs are for beginners and intermediates so there’s no intimidation factor at Badger Pass.

Other Nordic adventures include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow tubing.

Badger Pass has a cafeteria, lounge and outdoor deck for soaking up the scenery and sunshine, apres ski.

You can drive directly to the Badger Pass ski area or take the free park shuttle accessible from various points in Yosemite. Lodging and dining is available in the park or in nearby Mariposa.

Read More: Fun Things to Do in Mariposa CA, near Yosemite National Park

Cuyahoga National Park

This US National Park location for a downhill ski resort is unusual, primarily because it’s in Ohio, a state I don’t normally associate with alpine winter sports. The region was designated a national recreation area in 1974, then transitioned to a national park in 2000, the only park that has been established this way.

Located about thirty miles south of Cleveland and north of Akron, the park’s 33,000 acres encompasses some businesses and homes that do not fall under federal management. This includes the Boston Mills and Brandywine ski resorts, currently operated by Vail Resorts Management.

Lift tickets are honored at both resorts, located five minutes apart. Boston Mills has a classic lodge-style feel while Brandywine has a more contemporary vibe. The resorts feature a combined 15 lifts, 18 trails, three terrain parks and 100% snowmaking coverage. Nearly 1/2 of the terrain is for advanced skiers, including the steepest pitch in Ohio. But beginners need not fear; lessons and bunny hills are also available.

Both resorts have typical dining experiences, including two grab-and-go cafeteria restaurants, and bars for the 21+ crowd. There are gear shops and rentals available at both properties too. Lodging is not available on property, but budget chain hotels are nearby, including La Quinta and Courtyard by Marriott.

Olympic National Park

Want elevation and tons of natural powder? Hurricane Ridge in Washington State’s Olympic National Park is the place to go. Operated by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Education Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 volunteer-run organization, this winter recreation area has a summit of 5,240 feet, providing sweeping Olympic Peninsula views.

Originally opened in 1958 with two rope tows, Hurricane Ridge has developed into one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier recreation areas. It’s a small, family-friendly operation with 10 trails and terrain and tubing parks and cross-country ski and snowshoe trails. Although there are groomed areas, the park’s backcountry ski terrain is prized by advanced skiers and snowboarders. 

Lessons are available; however, rentals must be arranged with an independent concessionaire. Ones listed on the Hurricane Ridge website include:

  • North by Northwest Surf (Port Angeles WA)
  • Kitsap Sports (Bremerton WA)
  • Browns Outdoor (Port Angeles WA)

A 2023 fire destroyed the Hurricane Ridge Day Lodge, a popular visitor center with a cafe, restrooms and snowshoe and ski rentals.

There is no lodge and no food concession at Hurricane Ridge, so pack what you’ll need for a winter day outdoors. And follow the weather reports closely; tire chain requirements and road closures are important things you’ll want to be aware of before your trip. Don’t want to deal with the driving? Olympic Hiking Co. in Port Angeles offers a shuttle service.

A wide variety of lodging options is available in Port Angles and Heart O’ Hills is the closest campground.

Read More: Renting Ski Equipment Vs. Buying for a Family

National Park Ski Trip FAQs

Is it free to ski in US National Parks?

No. The ski centers in the US national parks charge for lift tickets, rentals, lessons and tubing. The prices at each are comparable to neighboring ski resorts.

Read More: Where Kids Ski Free

What should I pack for a ski trip?

Essentials for ski trips, including ones to US National Parks, include lots of layers, waterproof outerwear, safety equipment like helmets and sun protection. 

Read More: The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List

How do I choose the right National Park ski resort?

Consider what ski experience you’re looking for and your skill level. The runs in Yosemite are appropriate for beginners; Hurricane Ridge, in comparison, seems better suited for advanced skiers and snowboarders. 

Accessibility and amenities like lodging and dining are other important considerations.

Read More: Best Family Ski Resorts

Do I need ski lessons if I’m a beginner?

Ski lessons are a must, for kids and adults. It’s a way to learn important safety rules, proper form and to develop the confidence needed to enoy your time on the slopes.

Read More: 16 Questions to Ask Before Putting Your Kids in Ski School

Cathy Bennett Kopf serves as the Daily Editor of SheBuysTravel, reporting to Editor-in-Chief Cindy Richards. She began travel writing after serving as the unofficial (and unpaid) vacation coordinator for hundreds of family and friend trips. She launched her blog, The Open Suitcase, in 2012 and joined the SBT (formerly TravelingMom) team in 2016. A lifelong resident of New York, Cathy currently resides in the scenic Hudson River Valley. She’s a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the International Travel Writers Alliance and TravMedia.
Read full bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *