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Originally published November 12, 2011 at 7:01 PM | Page modified November 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM

Travel Wise

Snow-play and ski deals around the Northwest

For close-to-home winter fun it's hard to beat the views and abundant snow of mile-high Hurricane Ridge in Washington's Olympic National...

Seattle Times NWTraveler editor

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For close-to-home winter fun it's hard to beat the views and abundant snow of mile-high Hurricane Ridge in Washington's Olympic National Park.

This winter, for the second year in a row, the area will be open daily for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sledding. Or simply enjoy the scenic drive — 17 miles from Port Angeles to road's end at Hurricane Ridge — with views from snowy peaks to the glittering Strait of Juan de Fuca. See www.nps.gov/olym.

Most years the Hurricane Ridge road has been open on weekends only in winter, but a pilot project with federal and local funding has brought the everyday openings and boosted the number of winter visitors in local communities.

For skiers and boarders there's a small family-oriented downhill area at Hurricane Ridge (one of the few within a national park) with two rope tows and a Poma lift, run by the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club: www.hurricaneridge.com.

Snowmobiling around Washington

Snowmobilers can zip along more than 3,000 miles of trails groomed through Washington state's Winter Recreation Program. A Sno-Park permit is required for trailhead parking; see www.parks.wa.gov/winter/snowmobiling/ For tips on where to snowmobile — and efforts for more snowmobiling access — see the website of the Washington State Snowmobile Association, www.wssa.us.

Quick links to Northwest ski resorts

For web links to Washington downhill ski areas — from the little Loup Loup in north-central Washington to big brother Crystal Mountain, see www.skiwashington.com (run by a nonprofit trade group).

Oregon has a similar ski-info site at www.skioregon.org. For British Columbia, see www.hellobc.com/ski. For Idaho resorts, go to www.visitidaho.org/winter.

Vancouver ski area opens

Cypress Mountain, a half-hour drive from downtown Vancouver, B.C., opened Wednesday thanks to its Winter Olympics-legacy snowmaking equipment. www.cypressmountain.com

Finding ski-resort deals

With walk-up lift tickets easily topping $70 a day at some ski resorts, it's well worth searching for discounts:

• Check resort websites for deals, including early-bird ticket/hotel discounts. • Ski midweek when lifts and hotels can cost less.

• Buy a cheaper half-day ticket available at some resorts — and ski without breaks.

• Search online for special discounts — Crystal Mountain, for example, offers military discounts including half-price tickets some days, and airline employees with valid identification get $7 off on Tuesdays. www.crystalmountainresort.com

Kristin Jackson: kjackson@seattletimes.com

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