A History of Snoqualmie Pass and Snow Sports in Central Washington

January 12, 2024

When you think of Snoqualmie Pass, you can’t help but think of snow sports like skiing and snowboarding along with it. These sports have helped create history and tradition in Snoqualmie Pass for years. Let’s take a look at some of the history of Snoqualmie Pass and skiing and snowboarding in the area!

Ski jump built in 1931. Photo courtesy of WSSSM


Snoqualmie Pass was first explored in 1853-1854 when George B. McClellan and Abiel W. Tinkham wanted to find a pass that was better suited for a railroad than Naches Pass. They explored the surrounding area but ended up not exploring the pass itself after hearing unfavorable things from Natives in the area. In 1856, Major J.H.H. Van Bokkelen crossed Snoqualmie Pass on a scouting mission, and in 1865 a number of Seattle citizens explored the pass, reporting that it was a better choice than the Yakima Pass. In 1909, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad completed a line through the pass, adding a line to its Pacific Extension.

Female Cross Country Skiers. Photo courtesy of WSSSM.


The history of snow sports in Snoqualmie Pass began in the 1920s and ’30s. During this time, skiers had to hike up the hill rather than be pulled up on a lift. Interest in skiing, both by those who performed the jumps and spectators, increased greatly which led to the Seattle Parks Department applying for a permit to set up a ski hill at Snoqualmie Pass in 1933. In 1937, the grand opening of the Snoqualmie Summit Ski Area happened! The Summit at Snoqualmie is one of the most popular skiing destinations in the Pacific Northwest, especially for those who love a bit of history and some night skiing as well!

Olympian Deb Armstrong. Photo courtesy of WSSSM.


If you want to learn more about Snoqualmie Pass, skiing, snowboarding, and much more, we suggest visiting the Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum! Located directly opposite the Summit Inn/Traveler’s Rest at the top of the Pass, this museum tells a story of Snoqualmie Pass and all the great things that skiing and snowboarding have brought to our area. You’ll see things like Phil Mahre’s World Cup trophies, Debbie Armstrong’s Olympic gold medal, and many other cool artifacts! Plus, it is located extremely close to The Summit at Snoqualmie, one of Washington’s most visited ski resorts, so you can do some skiing or snowboarding and then check out the museum before your apr’s ski at Dru Bru or The Commonwealth, two of the nearby favorites!

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