When people mention Idaho skiing, the first thing they’ll say is Sun Valley Resort and rightly so. It was the first destination ski resort and home to some of the most consistent fall-line skiing you’ll find in the country. But… you shouldn’t stop there. The state of Idaho has nineteen resorts that cover over 18,000 acres and a lenient out of bounds policy for those with backcountry experience. Here’s what we personally think are 9 of the best Idaho ski resorts to visit now. But just like a parent, we can’t really name our favorite. Rather, we’ve come to find we love them all just as much but for different reasons.
9. Soldier Mountain
Skiing is supposed to be fun. And yet many take it too seriously. Focused on the most snow, fastest lifts, or the steepest terrain. Soldier Mountain doesn’t have high speed lifts or huge annual snowfall. What it does have is terrain that undulates and rolls creating a banked slalom feel. Snow quality that’s exceptional because the ski area stays closed Monday through Wednesday. And when it does open even on their busiest days they’ll see only a few hundred skiers. Then there is the mouthwatering backcountry terrain that you can see right from the lift. It was so tempting that we’re heading there again this winter to sample the out-of-bounds slopes.
8. Lookout Pass
Some may say you leave your heart in San Francisco, but for us, we left ours in Historic Wallace and the Lookout Pass Ski Area. Their snow is the stuff of legends. In fact, they’re the snowiest resort in Idaho due to it being the highest point on I-90 between Missoula and Seattle. While they didn’t have a ton of steep terrain, this issue has just been resolved! Their approved expansion plan to double its size includes the massive steep faces of the St. Regis Basin. As of this December, this expansion has opened to the public.
7. Silver Mountain Resort
What was one of the foremost metal producing areas in the world for nearly a century is now home to another boom… snow! Located in the Silver Valley just above the town of Kellogg, Silver Mountain is a great choice for those thirsting for powder but without the crowds. The 2,200 vertical feet of skiing is laid out across two connected peaks called Kellogg and Wardner. If you’re lucky enough to visit when the snow’s deep in the valley AND you have backcountry experience, you can ski/snowboard all the way down the 3.1 miles to the gondola base. But, be forewarned. This is out of bounds, and there’s a good chance you’ll have to do some bushwhacking to make it work.
6. Tamarack Resort
When Tamarack opened in the 2004/05 ski season, it was the first four-season resort to be built in the U.S. in more than two decades. Over the years, it’s had its ups and downs, but 2019 was the THE year of the break out. With a new owner in charge of Tamarack, the focus is on the mountain and can be seen with the Wildwood lift being installed in 2019 accessing another 200 acres of terrain. If you LOVE uncrowded slopes and skiing untracked powder into the afternoon, this is THE place to visit. And for those that enjoy lift-accessed backcountry, it’s heaven on earth. The resort is located on a ridgeline that easily provides access to over five thousand acres of backcountry goodness to the north and south. The backcountry zone feature cliffs, chutes, and bowls. Not enough? Here’s 4 reasons you should visit Tamarack this winter.
5. Pebble Creek
Pebble’s motto “If you can ski Pebble Creek, you can ski anywhere” is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, as we found out personally. On the surface, the 2,200 vertical feet might seem small, but more than HALF the terrain is rated expert. While the 225” might not seem like a lot, due to its cold climate, there’s a good chance you’ll find powder turns even weeks after a storm if you’re willing to put in some work. If you’re a person that loves challenging terrain, world class dining, and 2-dollar beers AT the resort, Pocatello and Pebble Creek are an affordable ski vacation like none other. And if Glen Plake loves this place… you KNOW it’s the real deal.
It’s been more than a decade since we’ve visited the slopes of Schweitzer, but to this day, it’s a place we vividly remember. Deep snow, amazing glade skiing, and some of the steepest groomed terrain we’ve experienced anywhere. In acreage, it’s the largest ski resort in the state, and the word is out on just how good this gem is. When the skies clear, the views are jaw dropping. From the summit, you can see Montana’s Cabinet Range, Canadian Selkirks, and of course the massive Lake Pend Oreille and the town of Sandpoint. In fact, we’re planning a trip this spring to check it out!
3. Sun Valley Resort
As we said earlier, each of the Idaho ski resorts has their own character and provides a unique experience that you need to take in. We’ll be honest. For years Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain wasn’t on our radar to visit. My list of excuses were long. Not enough annual snowfall. Only wealthy visit. And guess what? I was wrong. On our visit I realized that Sun Valley And The Town Of Ketchum Never Go Out Of Style. From Something Old World, Something New – Sun Valley Restaurants to All There Is To Skiing Bald Mountain Sun Valley as well as the apres scene, one might argue it might be one of the best ski destinations for an all-around winter vacation. It’s no wonder that it’s been named the #1 ski resort in the US by readers of SKI Magazine three years running.
2. Grand Targhee Resort
Technically located in Wyoming, the only way to get TO the ski resort is via Idaho and the cozy town of Driggs where you’ll find most of the lodging options. We think of it as “Wydaho.” Grand Targhee is the definition of consistent snowfall. A bad winter here is better than most ski resorts’ banner ski seasons. They are the ONLY ski resort in the country that has opened 100% of terrain by Christmas for its history. If you’re a powder hound, a visit here is a MUST. To this day, our week here in late January was the best resort skiing of our lives. For seven days straight it snowed AT LEAST one to two feet every day. We pretty much had the place to ourselves and were riding untracked powder deeper than most days in the backcountry. One word: Incredible.
1. Brundage Mountain Resort
We don’t just like Brundage… we LOVE it! In fact, it hits ALL of our checkboxes for being the perfect resort. Continuous storms throughout the cold months deposit nearly 350 inches annually making sure powder days are often. Combine that with winter averages typically holding below freezing, it means the quality of snow stays prime. While on the surface it may look like there really isn’t a lot of steep terrain, with a bit of snooping around, you’ll find everything from steep ‘n deep to cliff bands if you so choose. Finally, you have the town of McCall just down the road. It’s filled with amazing cuisine, award winning breweries, and tons of fun winter activities like plenty of Hot Springs.
Is there really a BAD ski resort in Idaho? Nope. These are just a sampling of the best Idaho ski resorts we’ve visited in the last few years and that we consider worth checking out this winter.