Sleeping in your Car at Ski Resorts

Lodging, PNW-style

PHOTO: Garrett Grove

The vast majority of ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest, from Snoqualmie to Stevens Pass, have minimal infrastructure. They’re mainly on Forest Service land, and they don’t have many options for places to stay. That means you’re either driving back to civilization, or turning your vehicle into your home for the night. There’s a whole ski bum culture that’s sprung up around the parking lot scene. You’ll see multiple generations—kids building snow forts, grown ups drinking beers around fire pits—set up for lot life. So what’s the secret to successful lot life?

Know the rules: Every area is a little different, and comes with its own set of rules. At Crystal, for instance, you can reserve ahead of time, and do a little homework before you go. Ask around, too, lots can be neighborhoody, so parking in the wrong zone can set you up for a significantly louder(or quieter) night than you might want.

Stay dry: It’s the PNW, it’s going to get soggy, and there’s nothing worse than putting on manky long underwear in the morning or trying to stick on sodden skins in the morning. Hang things to dry( bathrooms are great for that if you have an RV), and make sure you have airflow, otherwise

Shovel out: Snowpack management, especially on days when it’s dumping, becomes an integral part of lot life.

Bring beer: the best part of lot life is the other lizards, so come prepared to socialize. Usually that doesn’t take much more than a six-pack and a smile, but be aware that a lot of these people have probably been friends for a long time.