Over the past few years, we’ve made little time to travel during the winter months. We decided to change it up this year and head south of the border to get our snowboarding fix. With the local mountains struggling to even stay open with the little snow they’ve been getting, it seemed like a good time to try our luck in Washington state.
We made our way to Wenatchee, a city located in north central Washington. From Vancouver, it is about a 5-hour drive along the I-5 and highway 2 from Everett. The Wenatchee and Columbia rivers flow through the valley, and the foothills and landscape make it ideal for vineyards and fruit orchards to thrive. Known as the apple capital of the world, you can expect to see apple dishes on many restaurant menus around town.
The main purpose of our trip was to snowboard, as we hadn’t found time to go in the past couple of years. The Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort operates 4 chair lifts and boasts over 2,000 acres of mountainous terrain. With mostly blue and black runs, the mountain provides skiers and snowboarders with over 36 different ways of descending from the top to the base. Chair lift 4 takes you to the highest point, where you can catch views of Mount Rainier on one side, and Wenatchee on the other.
Unfortunately, Wenatchee was blanketed by a thick blanket of fog so we didn’t get the city view. We did have a great view of Mount Rainier though. If you’re a beginner or just starting out, there are a couple of green runs by chair lift 1. Having missed nearly 2 seasons, we were both a little rusty. But after grabbing some lunch, we were both eager to get back on the lifts. We even checked out a wing fragment from a World War II bomber plane which crashed on the mountain in 1944. Legend says that rubbing the wing brings luck and winter snow. This season, especially with so many ski resorts struggling to even stay open, they can definitely use some good luck in the snow department.
We parked our gear at the lodge and headed upstairs to the outdoor patio for lunch. With a large heater in the centre, and the lovely sunshine hitting our faces, it was hard to resist ordering a beer or two. We also learned that their chef likes to make everything fresh and from scratch. That means the next time you order some chicken strips and fries here, you can be sure that they’re not using the frozen stuff. We had a sandwich, a pizza, and a pretzel, all of which were pretty decent for a ski lodge.
The 21st annual Mission Ridge Ski Team (MRST) Apple Cup Invitational took place that weekend, with a section of the mountain dedicated to the children and youth competing in the giant slalom. During the afternoon, we spotted all the trophies at the bottom of the hill ready to be handed out to the winners.
Around 4:30pm on Saturdays from late December to mid-February, the lodge gets ready for the Mountain Music Festival. Free with any lift ticket purchase/season pass or $5 for non-ticket/pass holders, guests can enjoy live music and food at the restaurant. The lift hours are extended past until 8pm on these nights to allow for night skiing.
We wish we could have stayed for the Mountain Music Festival, but we needed to head back to get ready for the Wenatchee Winter Wine Gala. Now in its 11th year, this gala benefits the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. It was a bustling event, where we sampled wines from the region and gourmet bites from local chefs, enjoyed some live music, and we also casted ballots to vote for the best art piece.
The next morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the Rivertop Bar & Grill. It’s a great spot to dine at if you are looking for a view of the valley, as it is located on the top floor the Coast Hotel, where we stayed.
On our last day, we visited McGlinn’s Public House for breakfast. I had to try a hot apple cider as I was in the apple capital.
Left: Biscuits & sausage gravy over fresh biscuits; Right: Southwestern Scramble (bacon, onion, avocado, cheddar, salsa, black beans, hashbrowns, tortillas); Bottom: Griddle hashbrowns with sauteed onions and mushrooms
Before heading home, we stopped by Pybus Market to catch a glimpse of their public market. Though it’s significantly smaller than the Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver, market boasts some great shops. We visited D’Olivo, a shop which specializes in flavoured olive oils and balsamic vinegars. For hungry shoppers, the Pybus Bistro is there to serve local and seasonal items.
We stopped at Leavenworth on the way back. It is a small town just west of Wenatchee. The entire town centre is modelled after a Bavarian village. It’s really quite impressive, and it reminded me a bit of our trip to Germany last year.
Perhaps we’ll be back to visit Wenatchee Valley during the summer months, as I hear it’s quite nice down here. It was a long trek to get here, but it was definitely worth the drive. A huge thank you goes out to the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, who graciously arranged our accommodations, recreation, and dining.
Disclaimer: Do note that while we were comp’ed for this trip, the views and opinions expressed are our own and we were not paid for them.