Exploring Idaho’s Backcountry Ski Options

by Andrew Mentzer, Idaho Tourism

It’s time to start thinking about where to play this winter. Idaho is home to some of the coolest and most lively mountain towns in the USA.  If you’re looking for a little adventure as the snow starts to fly, but are weary of tackling the back country on your own, check out these great options to get into some steep and deep terrain without risking life and limb.  From human powered skinning trips to full service, family-friendly snowcat tours and to heli-skiing options, Idaho’s back country has something for every budget and skill level.  Below are a few options we have assembled with a little help from our friends at Ski Idaho.

Enjoy a backcountry ski or snowboard adventure near McCall, Idaho.

Payette Powder Guides

Payette Powder Guides
Take a trip out to one of the most scenic alpine areas in central Idaho with Payette Powder Guides. Their snowmobile and cat tours will leave you awestruck atop the Lick Creek Range—adjacent to the beautiful resort town of McCall.  Rates start at $360 for a two-person guided day trip.  Multi-day tours are also available; as well as yurt rentals and avalanche courses for those looking to go it alone.

Sun Valley Resort Heli-Skiing
As the birthplace of U.S. heli-skiing, Sun Valley has a long tradition of flying visitors to an untouched skier’s paradise on top of the Rockies. A vast territory—covering three mountain ranges—provides unparalleled access to Idaho’s legendary powder and terrain for all abilities in some of the lightest and deepest powder in the lower 48.  Sun Valley Resort offers heli-skiing packages starting at $1250 per person.

Ski the spectacular backcountry of Sun Valley with Sun Valley HeliSki

Sun Valley HeliSki

Selkirk Powder Company at Schweitzer Mountain
Best Overall USA Cat Skiing Experience—ranked second place by Powderhounds.com for 2013.  Located just 30 miles from the wettest spot in the entire U.S. Rockies and based out of Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Selkirk Powder Company offers heaps of fresh powder, untracked trees lines, steep chutes and pillow lines. Click here to sign up for an epic session of powder skiing. Prices start at $400 per person with discounts for groups.

Snowcat skiing in the backcountry near Brundage Mountain.

Brundage Mountain Snowcat Skiing

Brundage Mountain Snowcat Skiing
Join Brundage Mountain on a guided cat skiing trip into the beautiful backcountry of the Payette National Forest and experience a pristine, snowy wonderland.  Brundage’s cat tours access more than 17,000 acres of snowy steeps, tree-lined glades and powdery bowls.  Riders can experience this rush for only $269 for a single seat or book a whole cat for as little as $180 per person.  Click here to see Brundage Mountain cat skiing options.

Grand Targhee Snowcat Skiing
Grand Targhee’s snowcat adventures are an experience not to be missed, with breathtaking views of the Grand Tetons, 600 dedicated skiable acres, and incredible powder stashes. Terrain is appropriate for an intermediate skill level and above.  You and eleven other skiers and riders will enjoy up to 18,000 vertical feet during your adventure alongside Targhee’s powder cat guides.  Offerings include expansive bowls, gladed cruisers and steep tree pitches—all with awe inspiring views.  Prices start at $199 for a half day. Click here for additional full day, private and group pricing.

Teton Mountain Heli-Skiing
Teton Springs Lodge and Spa located in Victor, Idaho offers excellent back country options for those looking to get off the beaten path.

Perfect lines below the helicopter on a Teton Springs Lodge & Spa heli-ski outing with High Mountain HeliSki.

Teton Springs Lodge & Spa/High Mountain HeliSki

The helicopter will pick you up in the parking lot of the resort!  Teton Springs Lodge has partnered with High Mountain Heli-Skiing to provide an unmatched powder skiing and boarding adventure. For less than $1,500 (includes 3 days of lodging, breakfast, one day of heli-skiing and a ticket to Grand Targhee Resort) High Mountain Heli-Skiing offers 305,000 acres of skiable terrain in and around the Teton Mountains.  After a day of magnificent skiing or boarding, breathtaking scenery and glorious powder turns, round out your day with a visit to the Stillwaters Spa & Salon where you can choose from a wide variety of luxury spa treatments, including deep-tissue and sports massage!  Click here for more information.

Soldier Mountain Cat Skiing
Soldier Mountain Cat Skiing is back in action!  With a new 11-passenger snowcat, a flat screen TV to enjoy on your way up the mountain, an optional overnight stay in our yurt, and fresh powder all day long, Soldier Mountain’s cat skiing is first class. It’s also affordable, starting at $275 per person.  Turn your snowcat adventure into a moonlight overnight in a cozy yurt for only $38 per person. The hilltop yurt sleeps 12 with padded full and single bunk beds. To reserve your space, call (208) 764-2526 or email catski@soldiermountain.com.

Lodging and après ski options are plentiful in Idaho ski towns and the friendly locals are always willing to point visitors to a favorite bistro or bar.  Gear up and make memories in the incredible Idaho backcountry.  Learn more about Idaho’s winter activities at www.visitidaho.org/winter.