5.4 out of 10


47.8705152324128 -121.800100849759
Great for
  • Cost of Living
  • Parking
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Clean & Green
  • Eating Out
Not great for
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping Options
  • Lack of Traffic
  • Public Transport
Who lives here?
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers


3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5

"An imperfect mountain town in a beautiful setting"

Located on highway 2, about 8 miles east of Monroe, Sultan is nestled in the Cascade Mountains. It has a long history of mining and logging, as well as agriculture. The town sits on the north side of highway 2; south of the highway is the railway line (BNSF and the occasional Amtrak) and the Skykomish river, both of which are integral parts of the town’s identity.

To sum it up, Sultan is a bittersweet place. Though surrounded by gorgeous scenery with tons of outdoors activities, it’s also struggled with poverty and drug use.

*The bitter*

Like much of rural Washington, Sultan is relatively low income, though plenty of middle class families have also set up shop here. It has struggled at times to support those living in poverty, with no homeless shelters or drug treatment centers nearby.

The town has also struggled with drug use. In the early 2000’s meth use exploded in Snohomish county, which became one of the worst places in the country for it. Unfortunately, Sultan has had more than it’s fair share of the problem. Now, Heroin use is also causing issues. Not what you’d typically expect for a small mountain town.

The other downer is the traffic. Highway 2 is a narrow, twisting, 2 lane road. It’s also the second largest east/south highway in the state. On weekends, especially in the summer or during ski season, traffic through Sultan is horrendous. As an avid snowboarder, if I don’t leave Steven’s Pass by 2pm, I know I’ll probably add at least 45 minutes to my drive time back to Seattle because of Sultan traffic. I’m sure it’s extremely frustrating for residents.

*The sweet*

Luckily, there are lots of fantastic things about Sultan to balance out the downsides! And most of them have to do with being in the stunning Cascade Mountains. Here are a few perks:
--30 minutes from skiing at Steven’s Pass, one of the best ski resorts in the northwest.
--Fishing on the Skykomish river (locals know all the best spots…though they may guard their favorite spots and not tell you haha).
--Kayaking or floating the Skykomish River (I’ve done this to Monroe, good for a hot summer day)
--ATV riding and off-roading if you like to get muddy
--Outdoor rock climbing

And of course lots and lots of hiking. Though there aren’t any trailheads right in sultan (much of this land is private, and still used for logging), if you drive a few miles east, further into the mountains, the real fun begins. The closest hike is Wallace Falls in Goldbar, which is very popular. Lake Serene is another popular one that I do every summer. You can jump in a glacier-fed lake at the top! Ice cold, but so refreshing. There are many more hikes, as well as lots of camping around here. Check out Washington Trails Association (www.wta.org) for more.

Another perk is being able to buy land or a house for a good price. There are almost no houses or apartments for rent here officially, although I’m sure people casually rent to friends or family. But overall, the prices are much better than anything closer to the big cities. Just make sure to ask around about the neighborhood before you buy, to make sure that you choose a safe one.

Lastly, a few recommendations for eating:
--Sultan bakery: This place is packed every day. It’s just that good. They do breakfast and lunch, as well as to-go coffee and breakfast sandwiches for people heading up to Steven’s Pass. It’s my go-to spot for breakfast.
--Ixtapa: This family-run place dishes up steaming hot, enormouse plates of very Americanized Mexican food--- comfort food heavy on the cheese. Mmmmm. Just don’t touch the plate! They heat them in the oven so your food stays hot. They know it’s going to take you awhile to eat a dish of food bigger than your head.
--The Windmill: If you’re looking for a cheap Latte for the road, this is your jam. The coffee isn’t world-class, but it’s not bad. You’ll find little coffee shacks like this all over Washington State, but this is the only one shaped like a windmill! (This is actually where I had one of my first jobs, so I’m slightly biased.)
  • Gorgeous scenery
  • Lots of outdoor activities
  • Close to Steven's Pass
  • Some poverty
  • Drug use
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Country Lovers

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