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An Avalanche Dogs at Stevens Pass. (Image: Sy Bean / Seattle Refined)<p></p>

Let's go places: See the Avalanche Dogs at Stevens Pass

Located just 78 miles from Seattle, nestled in the rocky crest of the Cascade Mountains, lies Stevens Pass. It's a playground for expert skiers and a haven for people looking to get out of the city, but this natural landscape demands respect as well as appreciation.

Unfortunately, this exciting wilderness presents avalanche dangers. That's why Stevens Pass trains a special group of avalanche search and rescue crew. This skilled bunch are as cute and fluffy as they are serious about saving victims buried in the snow: They're the avalanche, or "avy," dogs.

In 1993, Stevens Pass created the Avalanche Rescue Dogs program to help with their rescue and emergency efforts. Today, Stevens Pass has a pack of seven dogs in various stages of their careers, but all ready to save lives when necessary.

Seeing the avy dog rescue team's training in action is an amazing part of snowy-weather adventurers.

"Avy dogs come to work every day with their handlers and are ready to respond to an emergency inside or outside the ski area boundary. In the event of an avalanche, it is our priority to get a dog team to the site as quickly and safely as possible, along with other essential rescue equipment and personnel," says Stevens Pass.

The safest and smoothest driving option to brave the wilderness and meet the avy dog team in person is the 2018 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 TRD Off-Road Premium, which has plenty of features to get you and your family up Highway 2 and into the Cascades safely and comfortably.

Safe driving up Highway 2 in the winter

It's not called an off-road vehicle without reason. This Toyota 4Runner gives you an edge and keeps the driver in control when you set out into the wilderness.

"The 4X4 TRD Off-Road has added off-roading capabilities that include Toyota’s Crawl Control feature. This helps drivers maintain control when driving up, over or down obstacles," says Western Washington Toyota Dealers. "CRAWL regulates engine speed and braking force so the driver can focus on steering and not allotting the proper power for the obstacle."

Heading up into the Cascades in a car meant for city driving might present a white-knuckled experience. Thankfully, you can relax and enjoy the Toyota 4Runner, even when the way is treacherous.

Avoiding mountain wildlife on the road

When you drive into the mountains, deer and other animals can jump into the path of your car, threatening passenger safety.

All 4Runner vehicles come with Toyota’s standard Star Safety System, which includes an Anti-lock Brake System, Brake Assist, Smart Stop Technology and more, which can help you slow down or stop without losing control.

Space for skis or camping gear

The 2018 Toyota 4Runner can seat up to five passengers with plenty of cargo space for gear, or the second row can lay flat to offer more than 89 cubic feet of cargo area for a load of ski or snowshoeing equipment, based on Toyota stats.

The 4Runner also features an available pull-out cargo deck that can hold up to 440 pounds. This is perfect for sitting on when your need to pull on snowboard or ski boots when you go up Stevens Pass.

The vehicle offers 270-horsepower through the 4.0-liter V6 engine, able to tow up to 5,000 pounds. You can take advantage of this feature when you take snowmobiles into the mountains on your way to meet the avalanche dogs.

Planning the trip

To see the breathtaking views of Northwestern mountains and meet the determined dogs as they train to protect skiers and hikers, drive up to the slopes of Stevens Pass in style, comfort and safety.

Before the ski season ends, come into Western Washington Toyota Dealers to pick up a 2018 Toyota 4Runner 4x4 TRD Off-Road Premium. Start your trip to see these trusted dogs in the best way possible: by driving a trusted vehicle.