Abracadabra Powder Skiing At Magic Mountain Idaho

snowboarder making a powder turn at Magic Mountain Idaho Photo by: Local Freshies®

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For years Jaime and I have applied the philosophy of “slow travel” to ski trips – instead of going where our season pass takes us, we search for places nobody goes. We focus on going deeper. Looking under the proverbial hidden rock. Trying to experience places that may escape the eyes of the weekend traveler. Some of these haven’t been home runs, but each one has given us a new outlook on life as well as skiing. Our latest diversion was a stop at Magic Mountain Idaho on our way from Sun Valley and THIS one was a grand slam!

There Are TWO Magic Mountain Ski Areas

snowboarder carving powder at Magic Mountain Ski Resort in Idaho
Photo by: Local Freshies®

More the exception instead of the rule, there are ski areas with the same name as I came to find out – Magic Mountain. One is in southern Vermont near Londonderry and the other just outside of Twin Falls Idaho. What’s interesting is both have a very similar way of thinking – it’s about the soul of skiing. Each provides the best grooming as they can as well as some fun off-piste terrain to play in. Although we haven’t made it to the Vermont one yet, based on Ski Journal’s article showcasing the owner’s passion for skiing, we hope to someday make it there. Our focus for this article is about Magic Mountain Idaho.

Our Basecamp For This Adventure

Holiday Inn Twin Falls during winter
Pepper our 95 4Runner pulled up front while we unload our gear – Photo by: Local Freshies®

As our adventures in Ketchum drew to a close, we headed south to Twin Falls Idaho. We needed a comfy place to crash and picked Holiday Inn Twin Falls. This newly constructed hotel provided HUGE cleans rooms and a quick access to the downtown area. We’ve used Twin Falls as our jumping off point for years and can’t believe how much their restaurant scene has improved.

Twin Falls Food Game Steps Up

Pad Thai french fries at Kobo Brewing in Twin Falls Idaho
The mouthwatering Pad Thai fries at Koto Brewing – Photo by: Local Freshies®

For a higher end meal, the classic is Elevation 486 which sits on the edge of the canyon and the mighty Shoshone Falls. Another new option is the brainchild of Elevation 486 – Milner’s Gate. It serves up standard brewpub fare along with creative concoctions like the filet mignon ramen bowl and the butternut squash ravioli which were to die for. A budget friendly option just down the street is Koto Brewing. We thoroughly enjoyed their Pad Thai fries – an electric mix of spicy sauces paired well with Idaho’s crunchy base layer. Or for a quick bite to eat, you can’t go wrong with Twin Falls Sandwich Company which we highlighted in our past article.

Where To Go For Breakfast

A close up of pork belly eggs benedict - at Yellow Brick Cafe
The breakfast concoction at Yellow Brick Cafe even Dorothy from Wizard of Oz would enjoy – Photo by: Local Freshies®

For breakfast, the Buffalo Café is an institution which you can get in and out of quickly. Be forewarned! Even their half servings are HUGE. JAVA is a good alternative if you want lighter fare along with AWESOME crafted coffees that personally are better than Starbucks. For foodies, we HIGHLY recommend the Yellow Brick Café. It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve had anywhere and reminded me of a personal favorite in Chicago – Lula’s Cafe. Don’t be fooled with the simple menu. The fresh ingredients and flavor profiles will make you swoon! Sadly, they open LATE (9 am) so not an option for a ski day.

Are We Going Skiing?

Enough about the food. What about the skiing? Although the map says you’re just shy of forty miles away from Magic Mountain, you wouldn’t think there is anything worth skiing. As far as the eye can see, Magic Valley is as flat as a pancake. In town, they barely get eighteen inches of snow annually, and yet Magic Mountain Idaho gets 230 inches annually. Purely on faith, we zip out of town towards our destination.

From Wisconsin To Mountains In Less Than Thirty Minutes

Making a left onto Rock Creek, the landscape turns from Wisconsin-like fields to a wide-mouthed canyon. Following the same named creek, the walls on each side begin to steepen rapidly. Ascending towards our destination, the near vertical rocky sides that are hundreds of feet tall are replaced by mountains that seem to be over a thousand feet tall. They continue to grow bigger and more prominent. And yet they aren’t covered in a lot of snow. Doubt begins to creep into our minds will there be enough snow.

Father Winter Answers The Call

The cabin at the base of Magic Mountain Ski Resort near Twin Falls Idaho
Photo by: Local Freshies®

As if Mother Nature was answering our call, we make a big swooping turn and the snow berms begin to grow alongside the road. Deepening and becoming walls of snow. And then we finally arrive. It reminds me of the stories my Dad told of what skiing was like not in the sixties but in the fifties. On the left is a tiny wooden cabin and to the right is their main lift – a double chairlift.

Back To My Childhood

Interior of the lodge at Magic Mountain Ski Resort
Is the saying “Kid in a candy store or at ski hill?” – Photo by: Local Freshies®

Putting on our boots and throwing on our coats, we head over to the only building that is there. Magic Mountain Idaho is one of those ski areas that’s a true Mom & Pop. Stepping into the small lodge, a beaming smile goes across my face. The building is like a pair of well-fitting slippers – comfy, worn-in, and what you want to put on all the time. It was as if I transported back to my childhood. The smell of wax, French fries, and a wood burning stove. Children run around energized and excited to be in the snow. It was the feeling I had when we got snow in Chicago and were about to go sledding.

A True Playground

Snowboarder taking a chute at Magic Mountain Ski Resort
One of the many chutes and cliff bands you can play in – Photo by: Local Freshies®

We buy our lift ticket at the restaurant and set off for our day’s skiing. There’s pretty much one lift – an old fixed grip double. Ascending from the valley floor, we’re quickly given a birds-eye view of the terrain. My jaw drops. Yes, it only has 700 vertical feet but the place is the perfect playground for skiers and snowboarders to learn without big consequences. Glades made of pines and aspens. There are chutes, cliffs, and even steeps but all in a miniature version.

Continues To Baffle

Snowboarder making toeside carve at Magic Mountain Idaho in deep powder
Yes this is powder over a month old… and it was even better than it looks – Photo by: Local Freshies®

Even on a sunny Saturday, the place had a relaxed ambience. Like any first run, we pick a groomer and drop in. The corduroy is SOFT, easily allowing you to make massive arcs down the mountain without hesitation. Inching into the ungroomed snow, we’re blown away to find soft, chalky goodness. As we venture into the steeper terrain, we find massive fields of untracked powder even though it hadn’t snowed in a month. How could this be?

Why Is The Snow So Good

snowboarder jumping over Claude's Run at Magic Mountain Idaho
Photo by: Local Freshies®

There are a few reasons why the snow at Magic Mountain Idaho is so good. For starters, they’re only open Thursday through Sunday, reducing the amount of skier volume on the hill. Secondly, due to its location next to Magic Valley which is relatively dry, it has more of a high desert climate. Combine that with elevation, and the snow preserves its softness. Another big plus is that most skiers and snowboarders that do come are beginners so any steeper off-piste terrain remains un-tracked until you show up to harvest it.

Backcountry Options Galore

Overlooking the mountains surrounding Magic Mountain Ski Resort in Idaho
Oh yes – that backcountry ski terrain will be mine next winter – Photo by: Local Freshies®

Meeting up with a few grizzled locals that ski tour, we ask the million dollar question – how’s the terrain outside of the ski resort? Although it isn’t the big lines of the Sawtooths to the north, the risks aren’t as massive. You can still ski a thousand vertical feet (or more). Looking around my eyes begin to widen. Finishing up the day, we pack up the truck as I stare up at the peaks.

Looking at Jaime, the decision is already made we’re coming back with our backcountry gear next winter to explore what these mountains have in store. As Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World said, “She will be mine. Oh yes. She will be mine.”

3 thoughts on “Abracadabra Powder Skiing At Magic Mountain Idaho

  1. Thank you for this awesome article, Alex. Just like you, I have ventured into smaller gems, off the beaten path ski areas, locals only ski. Other smallish ski areas of Idaho I would like to mention are Kelly Canyon, Pebble Creek and Soldier Mountain.

    1. “The Rock”! That was the nickname for Pebble Creek when I went to Idaho State U. If you can ski there, you can ski anywhere.
      But the best skiing for me in Idaho is definitely Brundage Mountain. I live in California, but still get a seasons pass there.

      1. I love Brundage as well, Tony and the town of McCall is the perfect ski town. Thank you for the inside scoop on Pebble Creek.

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