The Rocky Mountains create a vast skiing playground throughout much of Idaho, with resorts well-positioned to provide access to the best terrain and deepest snow. To make sure you pick the right destination for your winter vacation, check out our shortlist of the top ski spots in the Gem State!
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by the State of Idaho which impacted the 20/21 ski season. These included mandatory mask-wearing, physical distancing and limitations on large gatherings. In Blaine County which is home to Sun Valley, all restaurants had reduced seating capacity and increased cleaning and sanitization standards. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
Sun Valley opened back in 1936, at a time when ski resorts across the world used surface tow lifts as standard. Within a year the first-ever chairlift was operational at Sun Valley, propelling it into the limelight and securing its place in the history of skiing. It’s a world-class resort that every skier should visit, with Bald Mountain serving up epic bowl skiing and manicured cruisers to carve. There’s also treeless Dollar Mountain with its clear slopes for beginners to learn on, along with eight terrain parks for freestylers. For the quintessential Sun Valley experience stay in the Sun Valley Lodge, where the walls are adorned with black and white photos of the many well-known personalities that have stayed over the years.
From Idaho’s oldest ski resort to its newest, Tamarack Resort is looking to be the state’s next big skiing destination. A pair of express chairlifts whisk you up to the 7,700 ft summit in just under 12 minutes combined, where wonderful snowscape views are the first delight you’ll enjoy. The second is skiing the often empty slopes back down. Warm up with a non-stop run to the base village on the Showtime blue trail, just one of 50 pistes to try, and for deep powder there are inbound glades and back country bowls to explore. When it comes to places to stay every base is covered, with modern family homes, wooden mountain chalets, and slope-side cottages all available, not to mention hotel rooms, studios, and condos!
Being less than an hours' drive from Idaho’s capital city makes Bogus Basin one of the most easily accessible ski resorts on our list. It’s also home to a huge amount of terrain, a whopping 2,600 ac in fact, with 175 ac floodlit for night skiing. Advanced skiers will love the plethora of steep drops off Shafer Butte, while the gentler runs from Deer Point will keep intermediates busy. Besides skiing there’s plenty to entertain here, including a snow tubing hill, snowshoeing trails, and the exhilarating Glade Runner mountain coaster that runs for 4,330 ft through alpine forest. For exclusive ski-in/ski-out accommodation stay in the Pioneer Condominiums, otherwise there’s lodging to suit all budgets in Boise.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort ticks all the boxes for confident skiers who want a little luxury with their snow fix. Located at the tip of the Idaho panhandle, skiing here offers you views over the Cabinet Mountains of Montana, Canada’s Selkirk Mountains, and the enormous Lake Pend Oreille below. Half of the 92 meticulously groomed trails here are rated advanced to expert, and for those craving some real steep and deep stuff there are guided heli-skiing tours available. Enjoy full-service mountain dining at Sky House, a modern summit lodge that’s home to The Nest restaurant, while down in the ski village you can catch a movie at the free theater or unwind at the Solstice Spa! Lodging options include everything from straightforward hotel rooms to luxury ski homes with hot tubs and open fireplaces.
Still new to skiing? Lookout Pass provides an awesome environment to practice and improve. The ski area features three distinct mountainsides, each with its own dedicated chairlift which all meet at the 5,650 ft summit. This layout makes navigation simple, so you can worry less about where you’re going and concentrate more on how you’re skiing. With the bigger Idaho resorts often getting more attention than Lookout Pass, the slopes are generally quiet plus there’s expert tuition available from the on-site ski school. Novice freestylers are also catered for at the terrain parks here, with Huckleberry Jam specializing in entry-level features and Rolling Thunder serving up a natural quarter pipe. Economical hotels, inns, and motels are available in the town of Wallace, just a 20 minute drive away.
Brundage Mountain does two things remarkably well. First, there’s the fun Beartopia ski area that provides the perfect introduction to skiing for children and parents alike. At the other end of the scale, pristine backcountry skiing is available straight from the lifts here. Another boon for Brundage Mountain is the high number of storms that hit during the winter, which when you combine with its cold temperatures ensures good snow quality. And it’s easy to make the most of that fresh powder with the enormous cat skiing area around Goose Lake. You’ll find comfy cabin and condo rentals available in the resort, while the neighboring town of McCall is home to plenty more lodging options plus three craft beer breweries for après-ski fun!
Reaching the slopes of Silver Mountain begins with a 3 mi gondola ride that transports you up 3,400 ft, so you’ll have plenty of time to check the trail map and plan your ski day! Intermediates and above will get the most out of this snow-drenched ski area, which receives an average annual snowfall of 340 in. The North Face Glades serve up a truly challenging tree run for expert skiers, but there’s heaps of gentler terrain for you to make fresh tracks between the towering ponderosa pines. A variety of suites, studios, and condos are available right next to the gondola at the Morning Star Lodge, plus when you stay here you’ll enjoy free entry to the enormous Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark, complete with a FlowRider surf machine, water slides, and lazy river!