A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
That famous Idaho potato just may be outdone by that famous Idaho snow, lighter than on the coast, on a par with Colorado, but at lower altitudes. The 18 ski resorts of Idaho cover 20,000 acres of skiing and riding and there's enough backcountry fun to keep you excited as well. The movie was called "It Happened in Sun Valley" and it did. Sun Valley was America's first true ski resort, opened by Union Pacific Railroad's Chairman Averell Harriman in 1937. When Harriman's scout discovered it, there were only about 100 inhabitants of Ketchum (now 2,300). It remains the signature resort in Idaho and is still one of the most popular ski resorts in the world.
The ski resorts are scattered primarily in the western part of the state in clusters in the far northwest and the south central region. A few are in the east. The local joke is it looks like Idaho was just carved off of Montana and Idaho got the best of the deal. The other good news is once you're here it is relatively easy to ski several resorts on a vacation or long weekend while basing at one. Or, if you'd rather be in the big city, simply hunker down in Boise and head for at least three of the hills every day.
Tamarack Resort: This is a four-season destination resort in west central Idaho in Valley County, ninety miles north of Boise on the west shore of Lake Cascade. There are 50 runs for all ability levels and you'll seldom wait in any lifelines with RFID ticket reading to speed you up the mountain. Are you a terrain park fan? Tamarack will make you happy. Be sure to try BIG AIR if you are at the top of your game. This is an expert level park featuring large size rails and jumps. Lodging includes townhomes and cottages to chalets and estate homes.
Schweitzer: Here is Idaho's largest ski area in Sandpoint with 3,000 acres to play on and it is perhaps the most family-friendly of all. Main getaways to Schweitzer are Spokane, 80 miles (1.5 hours) or Coeur d'Alene (45 minutes). It's 60 miles south of the Canadian border. You’ll also find long cruisers and steeps, bumps, tree lines, chutes and more; every kind of trail any member of your family will want. The Selkirk Lodge is a convenient, cozy pick for lodging at the mountain, but there are plenty of choices.
Pomerelle Mountain Resort: You'll find it in Albion, about 30 miles northeast of the Utah-Nevada border in the Sawtooth National Forest. An affordable, venerable (in terms of age) family-friendly area, it receives an annual snowfall of 500 inches making it one of the first Idaho areas to open each season. There's heliski/snowcat skiing, night skiing, 2 terrain parks and an adaptive program. There are 500 skiable acres. Lift lines are virtually non-existent. Plenty of lodging is available in Albion.
Brundage Mountain Resort: This resort is best known for its powder-packed glades and wide groomed runs, eight miles from the town of McCall. Some of Idaho's best snow falls here - 320 inches of it annually. You also can take a snowcat trip to over 18,000 acres of backcountry terrain. Try something new here like tubing or snowmobiling. The Drive-Up Kid's Center provides a one-stop solution for families. The Bear Chair connects the Kid’s Center to more beginner and advanced beginner terrain. Lodging is in McCall and two of the favorites are the Shore Lodge and the boutique-like Hotel McCall.
Bogus Basin: If convenience is your thing and you are basing in Boise, Bogus isn't the least bit a bogus choice. It's just 16 miles away and provides you with 2,600 acres of skiable terrain across more than 90 runs. Bogus has been in existence for some 80 years, and is among just a handful of non-profit recreational areas in the country. It's family-friendly and affordable in the Boise National Forest. Top of mountain Pioneer Condominiums is the only lodging available at the mountain itself. But you can stay in downtown Boise and bundle lodging with discounted lift passes.
Kelly Canyon Ski Area has a family-feel in Eastern Idaho in the Targhee National Forest. Pebble Creek, with 2,200 vertical, sits along Mount Bonneville, just outside of Pocatello. Magic Mountain is a day ski area 28 miles southeast of Kimberley with a good amount of varied terrain. Soldier Mountain is a small ski area in Fairfield, Idaho in the Sawtooth National Forest once owned by actor Bruce Willis. Lookout Pass, located on the Idaho/Montana border off Exit 0 on I-90, is home to good snow, easy access and affordable prices in the region. There's 400 inches of dry pow annually here. Silver Mountain is in the panhandle of northern Idaho and averages 300+ inches annually on a 2,200 feet vertical rise,There are 73 named trails here.
No small town is more famous than Sun Valley/Ketchum. Don't believe us? You could have asked Ernest Hemingway. Even Marilyn Monroe owned property here. Visit any time of the year and you won't go wrong. But ski season is as magical as it gets. By the way, this is where the late Warren Miller honed his filmmaking skills while living in a small trailer in the parking lot.
Foodies will enjoy this fact: The town of McCall offers plenty of locally-owned restaurants, from American-style burger pubs to Asian cuisine. Noticeably absent from McCall are chain restaurants (OK, except for one Subway).
The Coeur d’Alene area is surrounded by more than 55 lakes left behind by the glaciers from the ice age. The magic of this town includes spectacular sunsets, moonrise and the glowing downtown of the city across the waters.