Idaho ski resorts might not have the reputation of the areas in Colorado or Utah. But it is home to one of the most historic ski resorts in the world and to a surprising variety of other ski destinations. It’s definitely worth taking a look at what the Gem State has to offer when it comes to fun on and off the slopes…
Idaho ski resorts map
Ski resorts near Boise
One of Idaho’s top ski resorts is located within easy reach of the state capital. Bogus Basin ski area is only just over 16 miles from Boise and the non-profit community-run ski resort is well worth a trip in the winter months.
Sun Valley is not Idaho’s only historic ski resort. Bogus Basin can trace its origins almost 80 years back to when the first chairlift was installed in the forests above Boise. The skiing is a good mix of different standards, with many of the tougher runs on the shadier ‘back side’ of Shafer Butte. The sunnier ‘front side’ below Deer Point offers a range of red, blue and green runs more suited to beginner and early intermediate skiers.
As well as the downhill skiing, Bogus Basin offers night skiing seven days a week until 22.00, nearly 40km of groomed cross-country ski trails and a tubing hill.
Bogus Basin Video
Bogus Basin Ski Stats
Lifts: Bogus Basin has 11 lifts, including four high speed quad chairlifts
Terrain: The ski area covers 2600 acres
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is 1800 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Bogus Basin is just under 8000 feet
Bogus Basin has got some great groomers. It’s a mountain which is kind of 360 degrees so you can chase the sunlight around and you can always find an aspect with some good snow.Robert, Coeur d’Alene, ID
Ski Area Website: bogusbasin.org
Other ski resorts near Boise
Soldier Mountain Ski Resort is the other Idaho ski area near Boise, taking just under two hours in a car in good conditions. The small ski area just outside Fairfield offers three lifts and 36 runs with a 1400 foot vertical, as well as private snow cat skiing.
Ski resorts in Northern Idaho
Getting into the panhandle of northern Idaho brings up the ski areas near the cities of Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston, with a catchment area into eastern Washington. Schweitzer may not be as well known as Sun Valley to out-of-staters but it is the biggest ski resort in Idaho. Silver Mountain, once known as Jackass Ski Bowl, is the other larger ski area in northern Idaho.
Schweitzer ski resort is just over 10 miles north of Sandpoint, a popular tourist town on the large Lake Pend Oreille. On a good day, there are stunning views of both the town and lake from the ski runs above the resort centre. Schweitzer is known for its challenging runs and large ski area split over two bowls: Schweitzer Bowl above the ski resort village and Outback Bowl on the back side with its mixture of intermediate and expert runs. The beginners’ area, which drops away from the resort village, actually makes the official vertical total of 2400 feet look somewhat better than it is in real skiing life.
The resort village does have a limited amount of accommodation, but many visitors prefer to stay in Sandpoint. The easiest long-distance access is via the eastern Washington city of Spokane, 40 miles to the west.
Schweitzer Ski Stats
Lifts: Schweitzer has 10 lifts, including one high-speed six-person chairlift and three high-speed quads
Terrain: The ski area covers 2900 acres
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is 2400 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Schweitzer is around 2 miles in length
Deep snow, amazing glade skiing, and some of the steepest groomed terrain we’ve experienced anywhere. When the skies clear, the views are jaw dropping.localfreshies.com
Ski Area Website: www.schweitzer.com
Silver Mountain ski resort is half an hour’s drive east of Coeur d’Alene on I-90. The ski runs are actually reached by a gondola with a base in the nearby town of Kellogg, followed by some older and slower chairlifts to distribute visitors around the area. The ski resort is a favourite for powder skiers after a good dump of snow, but visitor ski reports are slightly less enthusiastic about the standard of grooming on the ski runs.
Accommodation can be found directly in the town of Kellogg near the bottom of the gondola.
Silver Mountain Video
Silver Mountain Ski Stats
Lifts: Silver Mountain has seven lifts, including one single-stage gondola
Terrain: The ski area covers 1600 acres
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is 2200 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Silver Mountain is around 2.5 miles in length
Great little ski hill with very little crowds. Grooming, which I usually don’t care about, is terrible. Customer service…terrible. Local scene and bar….amazing. Terrain amazing. Please don’t ever get it together,Steve Deberg
Ski Area Website: www.silvermt.com
Other ski resorts in northern Idaho
Lookout Pass is another smaller resort in the Coeur d’Alene area, not too far from Silver Mountain and with four lifts and an average of 400 inches of powder.
A little bit further south around Lewiston are a bunch of smaller weekend ski hills with a couple of lifts. To the north of the town in the Clearwater Mountains, Bald Mountain is a small weekend area with a rope tow and a T-bar. Cottonwood Butte in the Camas Prairie near the town of Cottonwood is also limited to weekends, holidays and Friday nights in January and has a rope tow and T-bar. Snowhaven is run by the city of Grangeville on the weekends and again has a rope tow and a T-bar.
Ski resorts near McCall
The mountains of central Idaho near the town of McCall host two of the state’s favourite medium-sized ski resorts. Brundage Mountain claims to have “the best powder in all of Idaho” while Tamarack has had a chequered ownership history as one of the youngest resorts in North America.
Brundage Mountain ski resort was created at the start of the Sixties and is 20 minutes by car north of McCall. The ski resort has an interesting mix of wide groomed runs suitable for intermediate skiers and challenging glade skiing for experts who want to head off into the trees. It also has a massive back-country skiing area covering 18,000 acres which is served by a ski resort snowcat service.
Brundage Mountain Video
Brundage Mountain Ski Stats
Lifts: Brundage Mountain has six lifts, including one high-speed quad chairlift
Terrain: The ski area covers 1920 acres
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is 1920 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Brundage Mountain is around 2 miles in length
Brundage Mountain is everything Colorado is not. No huge lift lines, no high priced atmosphere, no snobby people! Just good old fashioned skiing, on the best snow in Idaho!Fred, USA
Ski Area Website: brundage.com
Tamarack Resort is one of the newest in the USA, opening in 2004 as a four-season destination resort on Lake Cascade in central Idaho. the resort has since undergone a number of changes or ownership and one trip into foreclosure. It is now owned by the same company that own a number of other ski resorts in North America, including the massive Whistler Blackcomb ski area in Canada.
The ski resort is known for its glade skiing (the tamarack is a type of larch) and its relatively new lift system (compared to some of the more ancient equipment at its competition). The groomed runs are long and wide winding pistes and those looking for more of a challenge can also take guided tours into the back country near Tamarack.
Tamarack Resort Video
Tamarack Resort Ski Stats
Lifts: Tamarack Resort has seven lifts, including three high-speed quad chairlifts
Terrain: The ski area covers 1100 acres
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is 2800 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Tamarack Resort is around 2 miles in length
Take our advice and go there before people discover this place. Go on a weekday and you will feel like it’s your own private mountain.skinorthamerica100.com
Ski Area Website: tamarackidaho.com
Other ski resorts in southern and eastern Idaho
Kelly Canyon is a family-friendly resort with good terrain for intermediates and beginners. It is located around 40 minutes by road northeast of Idaho Falls and offers 4 chairlifts and a tow. Pebble Creek is another smaller area just to the south of Pocatello and featuring a good mix of difficulty levels on its runs off three chairlifts.
Closer to the Utah border, Pomerelle Mountain Resort is a ski resort in the Sawtooth National Forest near the town of Albion. It is a forgiving resort for beginners and intermediates, with two chairlifts and a magic carpet. Magic Mountain is another family resort 28 miles south of Kimberly with just one double chairlift and a magic carpet.
Idaho’s best-known ski resort – Sun Valley
Sun Valley is located in the Wood River valley of south-central Idaho around the town of Ketchum. Sun Valley actually refers to the ski areas and to the Sun Valley destination resort, which is a little outside Ketchum.
Sun Valley was the site of the world’s first ski chairlift back in 1936 and attracted a Hollywood and arty clientele such as hell raisers Errol Flynn and Ernest Hemingway (who is buried in the town’s cemetery).
There are two mountains at Sun Valley: Bald Mountain, which is the main mountain where the intermediate and advanced skiing is located, and Dollar Mountain, which was where the first historic first chairlift was located and which is now a flattering beginners’ ski area. The two are not connected by lift, although there is a shuttle bus which connects the ski areas and the Sun Valley resort.
The Bald Mountain runs are mostly long intermediate groomed trails, many of them covered with snowmaking facilities. There are some bump runs for experts and some tree skiing for those who like to head off into the powder.
Sun Valley Video
Sun Valley Ski Stats
Lifts: Sun Valley ski area has 11 lifts, including one gondola and nine quad chairlifts
Terrain: The ski area covers over 2000 acres
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is 3400 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Sun Valley is around 3 miles in length
The Sun Valley Resort finds the perfect balance between being low-key and up-market. It has European influence mixed in with the cowboy Wild West. Roughing it in style is what attracts Hollywood royalty to hang out in Sun Valley.www.powderhounds.com
Ski Area Website: www.sunvalley.com