Ski Bluewood

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Ski Bluewood
Ski Bluewood is located in the US
Ski Bluewood
Ski Bluewood
Location in the United States
Location Umatilla National Forest
Columbia County,
Washington, U.S.
Nearest city Dayton - 22 mi (35 km)
Walla Walla - 52 mi (84 km)
Coordinates 46°04′55″N 117°51′04″W / 46.082°N 117.851°W / 46.082; -117.851 (Ski Bluewood)Coordinates: 46°04′55″N 117°51′04″W / 46.082°N 117.851°W / 46.082; -117.851 (Ski Bluewood)
Vertical 1,125 ft (343 m)
Top elevation 5,670 ft (1,728 m)
Base elevation 4,545 ft (1,385 m)
Skiable area 530 acres (2.1 km2)
Runs 24
Ski trail rating symbol-green circle.svg - 27% easiest
Ski trail rating symbol-blue square.svg - 43% more difficult
Ski trail rating symbol-black diamond.svg - 30% most difficult
Longest run 2.2 miles (3.5 km)
Country Road
Lift system 2 triple chairs - (fixed-grip)
1 platter lift
Lift capacity 3,950 / hr.
Terrain parks 1
Snowfall 300 inches (760 cm)
Snowmaking none
Night skiing none

Ski Bluewood, formerly known as "Bluewood Ski Area," is an alpine ski area in the northwestern United States, in southeastern Washington. Located in Columbia County, at the northern end of the Blue Mountains in the Umatilla National Forest, the elevation at the base area is 4,545 feet (1,385 m) above sea level, with a summit of 5,670 feet (1,728 m) for a vertical drop of 1,125 feet (343 m). The northward-facing slopes are about four miles (7 km) north of the Oregon border and 50 miles (80 km) west of Idaho, part of the headwaters of the Touchet River, the main tributary of the Walla Walla River.

The only surface access to the base area of the mountain is through Dayton, 22 miles (35 km) to the northwest and nearly 3,000 feet (900 m) below on North Touchet Road. Though the summit is only about twenty miles (30 km) due east of Walla Walla as the crow flies, Ski Bluewood is about an hour's drive as Dayton is 30 miles (50 km) northeast on U.S. Route 12. In addition to Walla Walla, Bluewood is the closest alpine ski area (in mileage) to the Tri-Cities to the west, and the closest chairlift-served area to Lewiston-Clarkston.


Originally conceived in the 1960s and created by Skyline Basin Associates during the 1970s,[1] the ski area's original name (as a concept) was "Skyline Basin."[2][3] After years of planning, fundraising, and approval procedures, the ski area opened as "Bluewood Ski Area" in January 1980.[4][5]

The second season of 1980–81 was a very poor snow year,[6] with only three days of skiing,[7] and the fledgling ski area filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August 1981.[7][8] Auctioned off two years later and acquired by Rainier Bank,[9] it was purchased for $550,000 in October 1983 by Portland executive Stan Goodell, a former president of the ski patrol at Mount Hood. To distance itself from the past financial difficulties, Goodell renamed it "Ski Bluewood" and relocated to Dayton to run the area himself.[10][11]

An expansion in the summer of 1986 added parking and the Triple Nickel, a triple chairlift to serve the instructional area with a vertical rise of 400 feet (120 m).[12] It joined the existing lifts, the Skyline Express triple chair and Easy Rider platter lift, which was relocated.[13][14]

Alpine skiing[edit]

Of its 24 runs, Bluewood has 4 green circles (easiest), 12 blue squares (more difficult), and 8 black diamonds (most difficult). Additionally, there is one terrain park and six backcountry runs. The area is open five days per week, Wednesday through Sunday, plus holidays. Bluewood has a reputation for dry powder snow, tree skiing, and a family-friendly atmosphere.

Will Brandenburg, a World Cup racer with the U.S. Ski Team, learned to ski and race at Bluewood in the 1990s.

Base Facilities[edit]

Ski Bluewood facilities include a full-service ski/snowboard rental department, retail shop, patrol services, ski and snowboard learning center, cafe, and pub.

Bluewood is one of the few resorts in the country that is 100% self-sufficient, generating all of its own electric power via diesel generators. There are two diesel generators in the basement, one that runs the lodge at night and the other that runs the lodge and the two electric chair lifts during the day. The main chairlift (Skyline Express) has its own separate diesel powered generator, connected via a clutch and fluid coupler. The Triple Nickel and pama lifts are electric and uses power from the main diesel generators, located in the basement of the lodge.

Bluewood Ski Patrol[edit]

The Bluewood Ski Patrol is a primarily volunteer group of highly trained and well experienced healthcare professionals. Member's certifications range from Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) to Paramedic. The Bluewood Ski Patrol is a licensed Washington State EMS agency and maintains an affiliation with the National Ski Patrol, Pacific NW Division - Inland Empire Region. The responsibilities of the Bluewood Ski Patrol are many and include preventative safety measures and enforcement, emergency medical care, incident management and investigation, avalanche control, chair evacuation, and search and rescue operations. The Bluewood Ski Patrol has paid and volunteer patrollers. The Pro Patrol and the Volunteer Patrol work side-by-side with one another on all incidents. This practice is fairly uncommon at other ski areas. However this teamwork allows the Bluewood Ski Patrol to offer the highest level of care possible along with the best customer service to guests visiting Ski Bluewood.

Due to the terrain and layout of the mountain, the patrol is made up almost exclusively of skiers although a few snowboarders do exist. New recruits are brought on as trainees until the training process is completed. This process usually takes a season to complete however this process varies based on skill and experience. The Bluewood Ski Patrol does not offer any initial certification training courses and requires new recruits to have a current OEC or WA State Emergency Medical certification prior to joining. Members are expected to stay current and maintain their own certifications. Individuals looking for more detailed information about the Bluewood Ski Patrol are encouraged to contact and meet patrollers on the mountain during normal operating hours. Bluewood Ski Patrol members are required to put in a minimum number of duty days each season to maintain a good status standing. In exchange for their service members receive various from Ski Bluewood. Members also receive the benefit of first chair and last run.


  1. ^ "Ski area permit planned". Spokane Daily Chronicle. July 11, 1973. p. 35. 
  2. ^ Campbell, Gay (December 17, 1979). "Uphill racer". Spokesman-Review. p. 6. 
  3. ^ Levenson, Bob (December 10, 1979). "Legislators blast loan guarantee". Spokesman-Review. p. 6. 
  4. ^ Earl, Larry W. (December 28, 1990). "Ski Bluewood is one of the state's best-kept secrets". Spokesman-Review. Weekend. p. 10. 
  5. ^ Baechler, Phil (March 8, 1980). "Schuss! The blues are gone from Bluewood". Spokesman-Review. p. A10. 
  6. ^ Tri-City Herald - Bluewood area hardest hit by snow drought - 1981-01-13 - p.25
  7. ^ a b "Effort underway to save ski resort". Bend Bulletin. UPI. November 11, 1982. p. C10. 
  8. ^ Tri-City Herald - Bluewood offer - 1981-07-05 - p.2
  9. ^ "Bluewood ski area to be sold". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. May 11, 1983. p. A7. 
  10. ^ Tri-City Herald - Sale should keep Bluewood ski area operating all season - 1983-10-09 - p.C1
  11. ^ "New Bluewood owner out to make resort go". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. November 16, 1983. p. 4C. 
  12. ^ "Ski Bluewood to add lift, parking". Spokesman-Review. staff and wire reports. April 3, 1986. p. A13. 
  13. ^ Tri-Ciy Herald - Work on Ski Bluewood lift beginning July 1 - 1986-04-04 p.D2
  14. ^ Halstead, Jeff (March 20, 1987). "A gem in the Blue Mountains". Spokane Chronicle. Weekend. p. 9. 

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