Navigating Winter Roads: Assessing the Safety of Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass

Winter driving can be scary especially if you are new to driving in the winter in Washington State.

Cars driving on a highway covered with snow during a snowstorm in winter

Comparing Safety: Snoqualmie Pass vs. Stevens Pass

If you have ever had to go through a mountain pass through a blizzard, you know what it's like to be bare-knuckled gripping the steering wheel around every corner.

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An interesting conversation broke out on Reddit recently and the question was asked, which mountain pass is safer to drive? Snoqualmie or Stevens Pass?

getty images
getty images

Here are a few thoughts on which pass is safer to drive during the winter:

Snoqualmie Pass has a relatively low elevation, meaning it receives less snowfall than Stevens Pass. Additionally, the Washington Department of Transportation consistently maintains Snoqualmie Pass's roads and frequently provides snowplow services.

Stevens Pass has an elevation of over 4,000 feet, making it more prone to heavy snowfall and dangerous driving conditions. The Washington Department of Transportation also provides snowplow services frequently at Stevens Pass, but the higher elevation makes this pass more susceptible to icy and slippery roads.

Bright headlights of a car driving on foggy winter road

Another factor to consider is the traffic volume on these two passes. Snoqualmie Pass is a popular route for commuters traveling between Seattle and central Washington, which means the traffic volume is higher than that of Stevens Pass.

With more cars on the road, the chances of an accident increase.

On the other hand, Stevens Pass is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding, which means it experiences heavy traffic on the weekends and holidays.


While both Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass can be safe to drive in winter if you take proper precautions, Snoqualmie Pass is the safer option when it comes to road conditions, particularly because of its lower elevation and less snowfall.

A lot of comments on Reddit seemed to agree that if you are just going through a mountain pass, Snoqualmie is your best bet put those traveling to Leavenworth say the easier pass is Stevens.

It’s important to check the weather forecast, road conditions, and chain requirements before you start driving on either pass, as weather conditions can vary greatly depending on the day.

Safer: Snoqualmie or Steve pass?
byu/Kratz17 inWashington

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