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The Little Ski Hill That Could

Ski, Board or Tube at Echo Valley!  (words by Morgan Fraser)

Originally built for skiers-only before snowboarding was around, Echo now caters to skiers, snowboarders and tubers: there are four lanes for snow tubing, and Echo Valley provides the tubes.

On any given day, there are more people tubing at Echo Valley than there are skiers and snowboarders. Snow tubing is a cheap (an all-day ticket is $8), fun way to be outdoors with your family, and the only equipment required is winter clothing.

Echo Valley has come a long way since its inception. Founded in 1955 by Chelan Valley community members, the first rope tow was run by an adapted model “T” Ford truck motor. The body of the truck provided a warming shelter. Today, Echo Valley boasts three rope tows – one brand new as of last year – a poma lift and four tubing lanes that draw area visitors and locals alike. The makeshift warming shelter has become a full lodge with two fireplaces, concessions and even satellite television.

“Got satellite installed at the ski hill!,” said concessions owner Warren Ireland on Echo’s Facebook page. “Now there will be football! Come up for some great food, football, and what is promising to be a great year for skiing, snowboarding and tubing.”

Echo Valley offers ski, snowboard and cross-country rental equipment that can be used at Echo Ridge, the cross-country ski area right up the hill from Echo Valley. Ski and snowboard lessons are also available for all levels.

Although a small hill, Echo Valley is an area favorite due to its friendly atmosphere and community feel. The hill is a non-profit run by the Lake Chelan Ski Club that relies heavily on involvement from its members to operate.

“It is through continued volunteer effort that the Echo Valley Ski Area thrives today,” wrote Lake Chelan Ski Club Member Terrie Carleton in a history of Echo Valley. “Through association with the Lake Chelan Lions Club, and with the addition of a tubing hill and ticket office, Echo Valley has become a gem worth keeping in the backyard of Lake Chelan.”

The Echo Valley Family Ski Area in Chelan opened for the season Saturday, December 18. Snow permitting, Echo Valley will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from December 18 to January 1 except December 25, and weekends and holidays in January and February.

For more information and conditions, check out their website at echovalley.org.