Schweitzer Mountain Resort.
Idaho is a popular winter destination for skiers and boarders with 18 ski areas offering beautifully groomed runs and glades of feather-light powder for all skiing and boarding abilities. With more than 28,000 leg-burning vertical feet, 20,000 skiable acres and a wide array of Nordic trails, terrain parks, cat ski trails, heli-ski opportunities and tubing hills, Idaho has become a hub for skiers and boarders seeking blue skies, fresh powder and few crowds. Learn more about Idaho’s ski areas at www.skiidaho.us, or explore all of Idaho’s winter recreation opportunities at www.visitidaho.org/winter.
A family does not need to live in Idaho to take advantage of the Ski Idaho Fifth and Sixth Grade Passport Program. With the passport, any fifth grader can ski or ride free three times and sixth graders can ski or ride free two times at participating ski areas. Families may learn more and submit passport applications at www.skiidaho.us/5th-grade-ski-or-ride-free-passport.
Idaho Winter Giveaways – Get your Vitamin ID!
Idaho winters promise bluebird skies, rays of sunshine, fantastic snow and spectacular skiing and boarding. Idaho Tourism and Ski Idaho want to offer everyone a cure for the wintertime blahs with skiing in Idaho. Beginning in October and running through late February, 2015, visit www.idahowinter.org to enter to win Idaho winter getaways. New offers are available every Friday. Learn more at www.idahowinter.org.
Here’s a look at what’s new at Idaho’s ski areas and resorts for the 2014-2015 ski season.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Sandpoint
Schweitzer Mountain Resort has invested over $1 million in mountain improvements heading into the 2014-2015 ski season. In order to maintain the quality and expected grooming everyone has grown to expect, Schweitzer purchased a new grooming machine and has upgraded the snow making system on the lower mountain to improve capacity and reliability. Guests will also notice improvements such as a newly paved main parking lot, new bathrooms near the Hermit’s Hollow Tubing Center and new ski and snowboard racks throughout the Ski & Ride Center.
Back by popular demand, Kids & Parents Night Out is returning for a second season. Parents may leave the kids with professional and caring Schweitzer staff for the evening then enjoy some fun in the Village. Pay a $25 deposit for each child ($50 max). Show the evening’s receipts when you pick up the kids and if the spending total is more than your deposit you will get your entire deposit back.
For those looking to learn and share the experience, Schweitzer favorites like Funatics and Mountain Xplorers will continue unchanged this year, but they have changed the Learn to Ski/Snowboard Program. The new “Ski FREE in 3” program is as good as it gets: 3 lessons, 3 lift tickets and 3 equipment rentals for only $159. Those who complete all three steps may ski for FREE from mid-March through the end of the season. As an added bonus, those who bring a friend to join in the process of learning will receive an extra lift ticket to use any time during the season.
Guests will also enjoy new flavors at the Gourmandie. The new chef has reworked the inside space, created a brand new menu and is serving up delicious food in one of the resort’s most popular venues.
The Lake Louise Plus Card is back again this season. The LLPC will provide 3 FREE days, discount lift tickets all season and they are redeemable at Schweitzer and four other top, Canadian resorts. More details coming soon.
The Powder Alliance is bigger and better this year with the addition of its first Canadian resort, Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia. With the purchase of a Schweitzer season pass, skiers receive 3 FREE days at 12 other western resorts.
Deep powder at Silver Mountain.
Silver Mountain, Kellogg
Silver Mountain offers two mountains, 76 runs and 1,600 acres of terrain, 2,200 vertical feet and more than 300 inches of snow annually. Silver has made a number of improvements in the off-season to enhance the guest experience. A new Mountain Host program will provide staff to answer questions and help acclimate guests to the mountain and resort offerings. Additionally, the ski school has added terrain-based teaching techniques to its lessons, the rental shop was remodeled to improve efficiency and the snow tube hill has added an extra session to accommodate the off-slope crowd.
Two new runs that were roughed in last year, Bootlegger and Shady Lady, were cleaned up, widened and are even better this year. With their length and challenging pitch, they quickly became two of Silver’s most popular runs last season. The progression terrain park has been expanded this year, giving more young and adventuresome skiers the thrill of hitting rails and catching some air. For early risers, Silver now offers a First Tracks program on Saturdays. Enjoy an early morning breakfast, hit the slopes and be the first to lay down tracks in the fresh snow. To see just how much fresh snow awaits, Silver has installed a new night vision webcam on the top of Kellogg Peak to provide real time snow levels and temperature.
This season, guests will have even more time to enjoy all Silver has to offer – the resort has added another week of operations to the end of its regular winter season.
Rolling Thunder Terrain Park at Lookout Pass.
Lookout Pass, Wallace/ Mullan
Jibbers at Lookout Pass will discover numerous improvements and upgrades to the Boarderline (front side), Rolling Thunder and Huckleberry Jam terrain parks this season, including features where tricks can be performed in plain view of guests relaxing on the deck. A “natural themed park” is also in the works, with some special features to come.
With legendary powder and the best snow quality in the region, Lookout Pass is committed to a great grooming product. With this in mind, a new PistenBully Edge Snowcat will join the experienced grooming crew and fleet of five snow grooming machines to insure world class grooming every day.
A higher level of instruction is now available at Lookout for skiers and riders of all ages and abilities. Programs include the Senior Workshop on Mondays, Downhill Divas for women only on Fridays and Next Level for intermediate and advanced skiers on Sundays. Individual and group lessons are offered every day the mountain is open. With so much snowfall at Lookout, Powder Wednesdays will continue this year– the mountain will be open six days a week, Wednesday through Monday.
Sun Valley Sunset.
Sun Valley Resort, Sun Valley
Turn through the trees this winter with 25 new acres of glade-skiing in the Frenchman’s area of Bald Mountain. Through the Sun Valley Resort’s partnership with the Ketchum Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service, a large-scale tree-thinning project was completed, disposing of dead trees to preserve healthy existing trees, yielding even more tree skiing for the 2014-15 season.
A new and equally bold vision is unfolding as the resort’s signature Sun Valley Lodge is re-imagined for a new generation. While the iconic façade of the Sun Valley Lodge will be maintained, the interiors will be redesigned and rebuilt to offer more spacious rooms, many doubling in size, with fireplaces and modern comforts, including expansive bathrooms.
The redesign and expansion includes the addition of a 20,000 square foot destination spa with 15 treatment rooms, complete with steam and sauna, a world-class fitness center and yoga studio, and a selection of wellness treatments. Adjacent to the spa, guests will also enjoy a beautiful new outdoor swimming pool and pool café framed by views of Bald Mountain. The Sun Valley Lodge lobby, Gretchen’s restaurant, and Duchin, the signature lounge, will be expanded and remodeled.
Throughout the renovation and closure of the Lodge, the Sun Valley Inn, cottages, and condominiums, as well as restaurants, retail shops, entertainment venues, and ski mountains will be fully operational. The Lodge and Spa will celebrate a grand opening in June 2015.
Direct flights from Denver International to Sun Valley on United Airlines will begin this 2014-15 ski season. The flight, just under 2 hours, departs daily from Denver to Sun Valley at 11:15 a.m. and returns, Sun Valley to Denver, at 1:40 p.m. The direct flight is just one of several daily non-stop flights into Sun Valley. Other gateway cities serving Sun Valley include San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), Los Angeles (LAX), and Salt Lake City (SLC). All Sun Valley Resort guests receive complimentary roundtrip airport transportation between the Hailey airport and the resort.
Brundage Mountain Resort.
Brundage Mountain, McCall
In the off-season Brundage completed a major upgrade to its base lodge. Skiers and boarders will enjoy a more spacious and hassle-free lodge experience including new ticket windows and guest services facilities just steps from the parking lot. Visitors will be able to purchase passes and tickets without climbing a long staircase to the upper floors. The new ‘plaza’ level will provide easier access between the lodge and the base area and create a more welcoming entrance to the lodge.
The expansion doubles the size of the Rental Shop and retail areas, easing congestion during busy times. New decks added to the south and southeast sides of the lodge allow for outdoor table service from Smoky’s Bar & Grill in both the winter and summer seasons.
This latest phase adds more than 3,200 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, including:
- 1,200 square feet of table-served deck for Smoky’s Bar & Grill
- 750 square feet of indoor space for the Rental, Tuning and Retail Shops.
- 700 square feet of brand new plaza-level space for Tickets, Ski & Ride School Reservations and Guest Services
- 550 square feet of additional deck space on the southeast side of the lodge.
Brundage trail crews have constructed a scenic, one-mile nature trail which will serve as a dedicated snowshoe trail in the winter. The trailhead is next to the main lodge where guests may rent equipment from a new fleet of snowshoes, including youth and women-specific models.
Tamarack Resort, Donnelly
Tamarack Resort will resume seven-day operations for the 2014-15 winter season and announced a slate of capital improvements. The resort has been operated by the Tamarack Municipal Association on a four days a week schedule during ski seasons, Thursday through Sunday, since 2010. To operate on an expanded, full-week basis, the resort anticipates adding about 40 additional employees and is expecting mid-December opening. Unlike many of the region’s ski areas, this level of certainty for opening day is enabled by the resort’s snowmaking capabilities.
Improvements are planned for the terrain park and include expanded acreage, new rails, boxes and table tops ranging in size from 10-30 feet. The resort has also removed underbrush to expand and improve skier terrain and invested in new snowcats for grooming.
Grand Targhee Resort.
Grand Targhee Resort, Teton Valley
Grand Targhee Resort is the first ski resort in the United States to embrace and endorse fat bikes, aka snow biking, on its Nordic trail system. Bikers who purchase a Nordic Day Ticket or a Nordic Season Pass will have access to ride on the Grand Targhee Resort Nordic Trail System. Grand Targhee Resort is nestled on the west side of the majestic Teton Mountains and receives 500 inches of snow annually. Famous for spectacular snow and magnificent scenery, Grand Targhee offers skiers two mountains totaling 2600 acres. Four chairlifts on Fred’s Mountain gives access to 1500 acres and 2200 vertical feet. A high-speed quad on Peaked Mountain opens accesses open bowls, groomed runs and tree skiing with an additional 602 acres reserved for snowcat skiing. Tubing, snowshoeing, Nordic trails, sleigh ride dinners, and spa services make for a complete winter vacation. Lodging is available slopeside and in Driggs, Idaho.
Airbag at Little Ski Hill. Credit John Webster
Little Ski Hill, McCall
Located two miles north of McCall, Idaho on highway 55, this small but action-packed facility has an alpine hill served by a T-bar providing 405 vertical feet of terrain which is the only lit ski and snowboard hill in the area. The Little Bear Basin Nordic facility has 30 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski trails. Little Ski Hill will operate an airbag Friday-Sunday this year giving freestylers the opportunity to show their stuff. Nordic ski lessons are now offered through the ski area’s PSIA certified Nordic ski school and group lessons will continue on Saturdays. The Little Ski Hill is open Tues-Sunday 3:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m on weeknights and until 9:30 p.m on Fridays. Skiers may enjoy the slopes from 12:00 p.m – 9:30 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. Bear Basin Nordic Center is open 7 days a week from dawn until dusk.
Bald Mountain Ski Area.
Bald Mountain, Pierce
This small, family-friendly ski area located in Pierce welcomes skiers this season with an updated lodge, including a new wood stove, and a new rope tow. As part of the Pierce Winter Festival the first weekend in February, Bald Mountain will host its second annual Vertical Challenge competition to see who can ride the most vertical in one day.
Back country yurt at Soldier Mountain.
Soldier Mountain Ski Area, Fairfield
Soldier Mountain offers alpine skiing and full and half day cat ski trips. Its new 12-passenger SnowCat-complete with a 47” big screen TV-is sure to keep skiers comfy during the ride. Soldier also has a back country yurt available for winter enthusiasts. The yurt sleeps 12 and has a four burner gas stove, fully equipped kitchen, wood stove and BBQ grill on the large deck. Families and groups may also rent the Mountain or the Lodge for an incredible winter experience. This not-for-profit, family-friendly mountain offers lessons, a rental and tuning shop, season pass packages and 4-day punch cards.