With the La Niña weather pattern developing thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean for the third consecutive winter, the Northwest should expect a cold, wet winter with heavy mountain snow. That means another great ski and snowboard season in Idaho.

It’s not just the snow – for the first time in history, SKI Magazine named three Ski Idaho destinations to its list of the top 30 ski resorts in the West, and two have been nominated as part of USA Today’s “10Best”list.

So here’s all that’s new this season in Idaho, by region.

Northern Idaho

 Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area – In northern Idaho, near the historic town of Wallace and straddling the Idaho-Montana border and the Mountain and Pacific time zones, this multi-use area opens highly anticipated Eagle Peak Expansion this winter, with a new fixed-grip quad.  It adds 500 acres of new terrain, nearly doubles the resort’s footprint to 1,023 skiable acres and adds 14 named runs, raising its total to 52 trails. With a summit elevation of 6,150 feet, Eagle Peak offers 1,650 feet of total vertical — 500 feet more than the original Lookout Pass summit. The new chair stretches just under a mile at 5,640 feet and can move at least 1,500 people uphill per hour.

Eagle Peak will deliver more and drier snow than Lookout’s already snowy reputation thanks to the 500 feet in elevation gain.  Lookout Pass also regraded its Success beginner learning terrain to offer a more consistent pitch ideal for learning to ski and snowboard. It upgraded its trail cameras to streaming video, and also improvements to the main lodge, rentals and additional parking.

Schweitzer – near Sandpoint, Idaho’s northernmost ski resort, skiers and riders will enjoy better access to the tree skiing and long groomers in The Outback Bowl thanks to 14 new chairs on the six-pack Stella. This will boost total uphill capacity on the lift by 25 percent, allowing it to carry 600 additional riders per hour.  The resort also has expanded its children’s center — a fully licensed childcare facility serving guests ages 4 months to 6 years old – with age-appropriate indoor and outdoor programming.

Schweitzer also opens its new spa, Cambium, in the village in a new building adjacent to Selkirk Lodge. The 3,600-square-foot retreat includes a relaxation with outstanding mountain views.  Schweitzer’s boutique, 31-room hotel, Humbird, which opened in February, will officially reach completion with the new 12-person rooftop hot tub.  Construction continues on Schweitzer’s new $22 million employee-housing project in Ponderay, with 84 apartments and a full-service daycare facility for employees with young children.

Silver Mountain Resort – South of the Border terrain is now within the borders, with the destination expanding its boundaries to include the popular pow stash. Off Chair 2 to left of Skyway Ridge just past Sunrise, SOB is naturally gladed, holds tremendous powder, and now boasts a new marked trail graded to get skiers and boarders back to the lift. The resort, in the historic North Idaho mining town of Kellogg, also opens the new Jackass Snack Shack at Midway Chair 4. It is on the original site of the ski lodge back when the mountain was named Jackass Ski Bowl in honor of Bill the $12 Million Burro, who accidentally assisted in founding the Bunker Hill Mine underneath Silver Mountain. The structure will have a restroom.

 North Central Idaho

The three destinations encircling the Camas Prairie — Bald Mountain Ski Area near Pierce, Cottonwood Butte Ski Area near Cottonwood, and Snowhaven Ski & Tubing Area near Grangeville — have not announced any upgrades for the 2022-23 ski season beyond usual maintenance and upkeep. They offer throwback experiences where it’s all about snow riding, family, and happy vibes with adult lift tickets costing only $20.

Central Idaho

Renowned for its glade skiing, Lost Trail Ski Area on the Idaho-Montana border between Salmon and Missoula has thinned more than 80 acres of its intermediate and expert tree-skiing terrain served by Chair 2 and Chair 4. It also completed micro grooming on its beginner and intermediate runs to help ensure an early opening.

Three miles west of Hailey, Rotarun Ski Area heads into its 74th ski season with key infrastructure improvements including new snowmaking that supports early and late-season programming. It also celebrates winter sports and mountain-town culture with free public skiing under the lights on Wednesday evenings.

For the third consecutive year, SKI Magazine named Sun Valley Resort — the birthplace of the chairlift and American’s first destination resort — the top ski resort in North America in its 2022 Annual Resort Guide. Sun Valley ranked no. 1 in the West for overall satisfaction, lifts, dining, apres and nightlife, family-friendly, and local flavor.

The resort is also a leader in sustainability, with the Bald Mountain Stewardship Project to improve forest health, reduce fuels and associated fire risk, and preserve the recreational experience on and around Bald Mountain. As a result, the resort will open up 79 acres of new gladed terrain in the Warm Springs area in advance of two new lifts being constructed this summer — including a six-pack chair — slated to open next season. Sun Valley also hosts the Alpine Skiing National Championships for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons.

Southwest Idaho

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area  – Near Boise, Idaho’s capital city, installed additional chairs on the Morning Star and Superior Express lifts, which will increase uphill capacity on those lifts by 30 percent.  There also are two new trails — Independence and Blackbird – with 11 acres of additional terrain. Blue and black runs, respectively, the new trails return riders from the backside of the mountain to the frontside. The nonprofit ski area also expanded night-skiing terrain by 15 acres, lighting the Sunbeam and Superior runs off the Superior Express lift, bringing the number of lit trails to 21.

Several beginner runs and cat tracks have been widened and improved, including Buttercup Cat Track, Shamrock, Sleepy Holly, and Sunshine has been regraded to improve learning progression.  New and extended snowshoe trails have doubled the distance of mapped snowshoe trails, and Bogus Basin will offer regularly guided and special-themed snowshoe tours. It is also introducing RFID ticketing technology for hands-free access to lifts. It also paved the main parking lot and added 50 new paved parking spots.

Brundage Mountain Resort – Between McCall and New Meadows, the resort added a 2,800-square-foot ski and bike patrol first-aid facility. This is the final season for nostalgia-minded visitors to ride the Centennial Triple Chair, a fixed-grip lift installed in 1990. A new Doppelmayr CTEC high-speed detachable quad will debut in its place next winter, cutting ride time from 14 minutes to 6 minutes and offering two high-speed quads on the front side of the mountain. The resort also purchased and transformed a historic building in New Meadows into its newest employee-housing facility.

Just outside McCall, the Little Ski Hill has lit a third trail, Race Run, and added more lights to the base area and lodge face. The Payette Lakes Ski Club will finish lighting the ski area’s terrain park next summer. Only the top quarter of the terrain park is currently lit.

The après ski scene at Tamarack Resort near Donnelly gets a boost with the opening of Seven Devils Tap House. Located next to The Village’s grand staircase, the 5,000-square-foot restaurant and bar is large enough for more than 300 guests with indoor seating, a mezzanine for more intimate dining, and covered and uncovered outdoor seating overlooking the snow front and West Mountain.

Save time and money by pre-purchasing day tickets with 24-hour advance online purchase — only $55 for midweek and $75 weekend tickets — and through Tamarack’s expanded system of ticket-pickup kiosks and automated ticket-scanning lift gates. New features include RFID-enabled snow-front ski check and heated seasonal lockers along with paid seasonal access to prime ski-in, ski-out parking via RFID gates. SOUTHERN IDAHO

Although Magic Mountain Ski Resort near Kimberly has not announced any major upgrades for skiers and snowboarders this winter, it is promoting a new Kosmik Tubing experience on Friday and Saturday evenings. Private group bookings are available on those evenings and other nights, and weekday afternoon group tubing will be available on a limited basis by reservation only. The mountain’s Saturday and Sunday daylight tubing will continue as normal.

Pomerelle Mountain Resort near Albion has upgraded grooming with new PistenBully 400 Park Pro groomers. The rental shop sports a new fleet of ski and snowboard gear from Rossignol and Burton, respectively.

New adventures and an improved on-mountain experience will greet guests at Soldier Mountain, near Fairfield.  The tubing hill which opened last winter returns, plus key runs at the top of Chair 2 have been cleared of brush, which will allow the snow to stick better and enable the resort to open trails earlier and keep them open longer. In addition, Soldier Mountain deployed three SNAPD action cameras — one at the top of the magic carpet, one as skiers and riders unload Chair 1, and a third near the top of Chair 2 with a picturesque mountain backdrop.

The camera systems are designed to work like those at amusement parks that automatically capture guests as they pass by. They leverage RFID technology to identify guests and allows them to access their pictures online or via a smartphone app. SNAPD day passes at Solder Mountain will cost $10 and a SNAPD season pass will run $25. Soldier Mountain is already booking seats on the snowcat for its renowned backcountry experiences

Eastern Idaho

Grand Targhee Resort — which lies four miles across the border in “Wydaho”, across the Teton Pass from Jackson Hole, and affiliates with Ski Idaho because the only way to reach it is through Driggs, Idaho debuts the brand-new Colter Lift on Peaked Mountain. The new lift can transport up to 2,000 people per hour, gain 1,815 vertical feet in just over 5 minutes, and provide 30 percent more skiing and riding with the addition of the new terrain on Peaked Mountain. These 600 acres used to be accessible only via snowcat bootpacking when the gates were open. Now, skiers and riders can access varying types of terrain, including awesome tree skiing and steep pitches.

This is the first major terrain expansion at Grand Targhee since 2001, when it opened the Sacajawea lift.  Grand Targhee also has renovated the slopeside Teewinot Lodge, and is introducing RFID ticketing technology to allow guests to access lifts hands-free via smart gates.

Kelly Canyon Ski Resort near Ririe as added new snowmaking and upgraded its trail lighting system. The new owners also have upgraded the lodge and transformed its cafeteria into the Half Cab Grill with an expanded menu.

Pebble Creek Ski Area, near Inkom has replaced the haul rope on the Skyline Lift and gave the rental shop a facelift.

Noteworthy Milestones

 Amid all these improvements, Ski Idaho, which counts 19 ski areas among its member destinations, is celebrating its 40th anniversary, Bogus Basin is turning 80, Soldier Mountain is turning 75, and Silver Mountain is turning 55 this season.

Multi-Resort Passes

Sun Valley has joined Schweitzer as partners with the IKON Pass.

The Indy Pass has a new, seventh Ski Idaho member with Kelly Canyon joining Brundage, Lost Trail, Pomerelle, Silver Mountain, Soldier Mountain, and Tamarack.

Grand Targhee and Sun Valley are members of the Mountain Collective.

Lost Trail joins Bogus Basin and Silver Mountain as partners in the Powder Alliance.

Sun Valley offers a Sun & Snow Pass with Snowbasin in Huntsville, Utah, that allows up to three days at each resort.

About Ski Idaho

Founded in 1982, the Idaho Ski Areas Association, a.k.a. Ski Idaho, is a nonprofit association funded in part by the Idaho Travel Council via the state’s 2 percent lodging tax paid by travelers and collected by hotel, motel, private campground, and vacation rentals owners.

Boasting 29,000 feet of vertical spanning more than 21,000 acres, Idaho is home to America’s first destination ski resort, the birthplace of the chairlift, and often considered the soul of skiing. Its 19 family friendly alpine ski areas offer trails and backcountry for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and skill levels, breathtaking views, hundreds of inches of fresh powder, affordable passes, and short lift lines. Many Ski Idaho destinations open for the summer season, as well, to provide lift-served mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, hiking and trail running, disc golf, horseback riding, and more.

Visit skiidaho.us for more details.

What’s your favorite destination in Idaho?  We love your comments

6 Comments

  1. Richard Kunz says:

    Hi Evelyn, Great story about my home state and many of my favorite ski destinations. Have Ski, Will Travel

  2. Idaho is a winter paradise and one of the best keep secret’s that still has that old time friendly feeling!

  3. Great article covering a lot of fun areas. Just because you haven’t read much on some of these don’t ignore them. If you are traveling through take a day and surprise yourself. There is a lot of fun hiding in the woods up here.

  4. John E Farley says:

    Sounds like a lot going on in Idaho! In reference to Lookout Pass, though, I would note that 5,640 feet is a little MORE than a mile. 😉

  5. Bob Margulis says:

    Grand Targhee averages about 500 inches of the best powder you’ll find anywhere. It’s where the Jackson locals go to ski to escape the crowds and high prices. Plus an incredible view of the Tetons from the top of the chair— on the days when it’s not living up to its nickname, Grand Foggy. And it’s located just outside Teton Valley, a collection of chill towns with locals who make you feel right at home.

  6. Dave Chambers says:

    Fascinating story Evelyn and so detailed. I have skied Schweitzer. When I say skied I use the term advisedly, it was their worst snow fall in 100 years according the locals. But we spent quite a bit of time on that trip touring the local towns nearby Sandpoint, Ponderay and Coeur d’ Alene. Your article reminds of how many great resorts we should return to.

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