Mt Baker Ski Area

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Mt Baker Washington
Mt Baker Washington
The abundance of snow is a highlight
The abundance of snow is a highlight
Mt Baker has some very nice eating spots
Mt Baker has some very nice eating spots
Mt Baker ski area
Mt Baker ski area
One of the Baker regulars ripping the gnarly terrain
One of the Baker regulars ripping the gnarly terrain
Some say Mt Baker is the birthplace of snowboarding
Some say Mt Baker is the birthplace of snowboarding
Not far to walk to the day lodge
Not far to walk to the day lodge
The road up to the Mt Baker ski area
The road up to the Mt Baker ski area
The Inn at Mt Baker is a great place to stay
The Inn at Mt Baker is a great place to stay
The Inn at Mt Baker offers great views
The Inn at Mt Baker offers great views
Graham
Graham's pub in the little town of Glacier
Powder days are common
Powder days are common
Mt Baker skiing terrain
Mt Baker skiing terrain
Lots of steeps
Lots of steeps
Powder skiing Mt Baker
Powder skiing Mt Baker
Weekdays are generally uncrowded
Weekdays are generally uncrowded
The lovely day lodge
The lovely day lodge
Mt Baker Ski Area Washington
Mt Baker Ski Area Washington
Mt Baker Ski Resort
Mt Baker Ski Resort
Mt Baker WA
Mt Baker WA

Mt Baker Ski Area

Readers Ratings

Mt Baker

Mt Baker3.5/512
Mt Baker3.5 out of 5 based on 12 reviews
  • Recommend
    83%
  • Would Revisit
    83%
World Nomads Travel Insurance

Washington Ski Resorts

Crystal Mountain
Stevens Pass Ski Resort
The Mt Baker Ski Area has an avalanche of hype associated with it. Mt. Baker doesn't get the sort of hype that the bells and whistles resorts like Vail and Whistler get, but more of a cult following from gnarly dudes due to the snow, extreme inbounds terrain and huge accessible backcountry.

In the snow quantity department Mt Baker Washington is unbeatable. The amazing average of 688 inches (17.5 metres) of snowfall per season is definitely nothing to be sneezed at, however Mount Baker Ski Area has a relatively coastal location and low elevation (only 5,089ft at the top, 2,400ft lower than Whistler), which isn’t a plus for the snow quality. The snow quality down low can deteriorate quickly and it does rain more often than the ski hill operators would care to admit. On the upside, Mt. Baker ski area won’t have you gasping for breath like in Colorado or Gulmarg Kashmir, and you won’t have to wonder where your manhood has disappeared to, or your nipples won’t be ratcheting up like in the biting cold of Alberta or ……..Colorado.

So how does the Mt Baker Ski Area stack up against all the hype? Well in some departments it stacks up well, in others it doesn’t stack up at all. Let us explain. Baker is all about a few things: lots (and I mean lots) of snow, much more than most other lift serviced ski resorts in the world; great steeps and natural terrain features; plus awesome backcountry. However the devil is in the detail, and whilst regular dumps of snow, great expert terrain and bountiful backcountry ticks some important boxes, when one marries those things to a small lift serviced area, huge numbers of skiers on powder days, a questionable vibe from some of the locals, a low elevation and high moisture content snow, and poor intermediate terrain - there are some doubts. Whilst we ski around the world to sup on as much powder as we can, skiing a legendary hill for only an hour before all the inbounds terrain is completely and utterly tracked out raises some serious questions about Mt Baker being a destination for out of state and international snow riders. I can hear the locals rejoicing! I’m sure they want THEIR hill back!

Pros and Cons of Mt Baker WA

Pros
  • Mt Baker Washington has phenomenal expert terrain in-bounds, and plenty more gems to be found in the backcountry.
  • The experience is delightfully inexpensive (especially mid-week) and lodging nearby provides great value for money.
  • The ski area gets lots of powder days and big snow volumes.
  • With the exception of weekend powder days, Mt Baker is generally not crowded. 
Cons
  • The Mt. Baker Ski Area is small in-bounds and gets tracked out super quickly on a powder day.
  • It has slow chair lifts, although this seems to be an acceptable trade-off considering all the snow.
  • There are some groomers for beginners and intermediates, but if you like to mostly ski on groomed runs, Mt Baker is not the hill for you. 
  • The Mt. Baker snow quality is rarely primo.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
  • There is no on-mountain Mt Baker lodging, negligible nightlife nearby, and minimal shops, cell phone service or internet access.
  • Mt Baker has a cult-like following, particularly amongst snowboarders. The devotees almost worship the place and there’s a bit of a “too cool for school” vibe about the place. There are some incredibly talented riders….but they know it and are not welcoming.
  • Don’t expect lots of nice weather days. That massive amount of snow doesn’t fall from blue skies and white-outs are not uncommon.

Mt Baker Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Whilst it packs a lot in, Mount Baker Washington is only a smallish ski resort with 1,000 acres (405 hectares) of terrain and a vertical drop of only 1,588 ft. The Mt Baker ski area has 10 lifts, of which 8 are slow quad chairs.

The terrain is mostly below the treeline and very challenging. Beginners are surprisingly well catered for with a free handle tow and reasonable progressions, whilst for intermediates there are only some roly poly interrupted fall line runs with limited appeal. Go to Whistler Blackcomb – yikes can’t believe I just wrote that!

Mt. Baker Ski Area is an expert’s mountain and it’s in the gnarly inbounds terrain department that Baker excels. You don’t come here to ski groomers, it’s all about powder, hits, steeps, trees, chutes and cliffs. There are lots of them if you want them, can pucker up, and if you know where you’re going. And with wet and abundant snow, even the steepest, gnarliest, craggiest terrain has snow stuck to it, so you can actually ride it.

Backcountry terrain at Baker is boundless and is the real reason to visit. Watch the avi forecast, heed the warnings, and don your safety gear.

Mt Baker Snow

Mount Baker snow is deep and coastal. Fresh snow at Mt Baker Ski Area has high percentage water content and due to the elevation, the snow quality is likely to deteriorate quite rapidly through the day (if it’s not still snowing that is). And only a few degrees makes the difference between pow and slush or r***.

Baker doesn’t get as much of the dry cold smoke of ski resorts further inland. That said, powder is powder, face shots are face shots, and if you prefer super dry powder go skiing in Utah, the Baker die-hard locals will thank you for it!

Freshies!

Mt Baker is supposed to have a reputation for minimal crowds (although that rep is probably relative to some of the crazy busy North American resorts). So how is it that on the day the Powderhounds finally got to review the legendary Mt Baker, that with a foot of fresh on the ground, every skier between Vancouver and Seattle decided to make the pilgrimage as well?? It felt like Vail on Presidents weekend but without the 5,000 acres and 30 lifts to spread the punters out. Mt. Baker got tracked out in-bounds within about 30 minutes and let’s just say that you don’t travel to Baker to ski tracked snow!

Mt Baker can get absolutely smashed on a powder day on weekends. Weekdays are an entirely different matter when its uncrowded rep is often deserved. In essence, to get the goods you MUST get up early for first lifts, avoid weekends, and head straight to chair 5 and 6.

Where is Mt Baker Washington?

Mt Baker ski area is located in the northwest corner of Washington State at the end of State Route 542, the Mt Baker Highway. Located in the Northern Cascades, the Mount Baker ski area is technically not actually situated on the big volcano of Mt Baker, but rather on a dinky little hill on Mt Baker’s flanks.

The ski area is 53 miles east of Bellingham (1:15 hours), 134 miles northeast of Seattle (2.5 hours), and 86 miles southeast of Vancouver BC (2 hours drive).

There is a bus service that runs around the Whatcom County, but you really need a car to get around.

Mt Baker Lodging

If you adore ski-in ski-out lodging and love to strut around a ski resort village with your bling bling goggles on, Mt Baker is not the place for you. I guess you could wear the crystal encrusted goggles (if you want those scary locals to leer at you), but there is no on-mountain lodging at Mt Baker.

Mt Baker lodging is available in the little sleepy town of Glacier, 17 miles away from Mt Baker ski resort. Maple Falls, 26 miles west of Baker, is a fraction larger and has a few more amenities.

Otherwise Bellingham isn’t too far away (1:15 hours) and it offers a large range of lodging options.

Glacier Lodging Listings

Ski Resort Facilities

Mt Baker is a somewhat minimalist ski area, with no day spas, glitzy shops or sleigh rides, which is part of the attraction for many of the locals. Baker definitely isn’t a heavily commercialized resort, but that’s not to say that isn’t doesn’t have some fabulous amenities including day lodges that serve up great fare.
No listings were found for Mt Baker.
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