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Here are three northern ski areas in Idaho sure to surprise you.

Are you a skier or snowboarder? Or do you simply love that white powdery stuff! And that oh-so- crisp winter air and the dramatic beauty of winter in the mountains. Then here are three lesser-known Idaho winter destinations that should get you heading to pack your bags.

Oh wait, you can’t travel again yet? Well hold that thought and plan, and book for next northern season. Or when it’s again safe for you to travel.

North Idaho, or the northern panhandle as it’s known, is home to three amazing, and very different, ski resorts.And all of them should be put on your list. Why? Every skier knows the thrill and excitement of a new hill, different terrain and bragging rights for place their friends are yet to visit.

In essence these areas are lesser known, less crowded and easily accessible from the popular ‘powder highway’ resorts of British Columbia.

Furthermore, here’s what you need to know:

Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Sandpoint ID: Idaho’s largest ski resort.

The mountain is best known for expert bowls, chutes and glades with gorgeous views and no crowds.

This is a full-service resort with upscale amenities and a mountain village for slope-side accommodation and access to first tracks, the last chair and of course, après ski.

Schweitzer also has 32km of cross-country trails and twilight skiing from 3-7.00pm.

 

It’s an easy trip from Canada to Schweitzer Idaho, with two different border crossings; East Port and Porthill. Or only 1.5 hours from Spokane WA or 3.5 from Missoula MT by car, both with good air connections from the west coast.

For more: https://visitidaho.org/things-to-do/alpine-skiing-snowboarding/schweitzer-mountain-resort/

Silver Mountain, Kellogg ID: two Idaho mountains in one.

Silver offers varied terrain for all abilities. The upper mountain and slopes are accessed from the gondola village at the base of the mountain. This is North America’s longest scenic gondola ride!

The resort offers bowl and top-notch tree skiing and long-lasting powder, averaging 300+ inches annually.

The easiest access of any ski mountain you will visit, just 1 minute off the i90, one hour drive from Spokane WA or 2 hours from Missoula MT

For more: https://visitidaho.org/things-to-do/snow-tubing/silver-mountain-resort-2/

Look Out Pass, Mullan ID : the Idaho locals’ resort which gets the most snow

In contrast Look Out Pass is a smaller, cool, locals’ ski resort. And it’s located 5 miles east of Mullan Idaho. On the border of Montana.

Additionally, Lookout Pass has the enviable reputation for receiving the most snow in northern Idaho.  It’s also known for learner friendly slopes, progressive terrain parks.

Moreover as an added bonus: this is an all-seasons resort, set in unspoiled national forest. In summer Lookout Pass also operates the Route of the Hiawatha Scenic Bike Trail.

Often referred to as “the most scenic stretch of rail-to-trail adventure in the USA”. This awesome mountain bike adventure offers 10 dark tunnels and 7 sky-high trestles and is 15 miles long: all downhill.

Accessed via the Interstate 90, Lookout Pass is approximately 90 min on i90 drive from entry airports at Spokane WA or Missoula MT.

For more: https://visitidaho.org/things-to-do/alpine-skiing-snowboarding/lookout-pass-ski-recreation-area/

Sun Valley knows how to celebrate the Christmas holiday.

Images: courtesy Caroline Davidson and Idaho Tourism

Make your perfect ski getaway from Australia to Sun Valley Idaho. Here’s how:

Choose Your Getaway timing

Undoubtedly, December is the perfect month to head to Sun Valley. Aussies are staying home for Christmas, but you’ll be back in time! The snow season is well underway in Idaho. So usually means there’s an abundance of powder ready for your visit. The holiday season has started in Idaho, so decorations and lights make the getaway to Sun Valley even more spectacular: like they are celebrating your arrival. Flights and accommodation are cheaper and more available before Christmas.

Hollywood celebrities were first to discover the delights of Sun Valley.

 

Accommodation is Plentiful

Unquestionably, your perfect ski getaway should include the best accommodation for your needs. Whatever they may be!

Sun Valley Resort is for those wanting luxury, old world style and glamour. And easy access to the slopes. As a result Hollywood, celebrities, the rich and famous all make Sun Valley their home away from home.

Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley Resort at night

The Limelight Hotel in nearby Ketchum is the latest, modern luxury hotel blending style, comfort and a central location to both Dollar and Baldy Mountains with the charm of this small town location.

Apartment or condo-style vacation stays are plentiful and offer the ease of self-catering. Book here.

Epic Skiing or Boarding on your Perfect Getaway in Sun Valley

The Slopes

Sun Valley is a magical place to ski or board whether you are a first-timer or a veteran advanced powder junkie. Importantly, the resort is famous for no lift lines and no clouds. And for its snowmaking! So if the snow gods have not been kind, no worries, the snow cover will still be spectacular. The sun is nearly always out- and so will you be. Furthermore, Sun Valley is part of Epic Pass- incredible value for skiers and boarders around the world.

Baldy Mountain 

Undoubtedly, Baldy Mountain is the main game. Bald is for skiers of all levels with a great variety of terrain, all downhill with no flats or plateaus. Go fast or slow but go downhill.

Downhill, cross country, ice-skating; the choice of winter thrill is yours.

Dollar mountain is where skiing learned to ski and the best place for new skiers and boarders to do the same… It has the world’s first chair lift along with four more, beginner- friendly, treeless, sunny slopes and plenty of vertical to keep everyone smiling.

The dedicated Ski & Snowboard program available in Sun Valley offers endless opportunities for group or private lessons to learn and get the most out of your perfect winter getaway in Sun Valley. Higher Ground is the adaptive snow sports provider in Sun Valley and provides on-snow opportunities for people of all ages with cognitive, physical, and developmental disabilities.

The Day Lodges – For Palaces in the snow

River Run

At the base of Baldy is a dedicated mini-village for everything ski-related you need, and then some. Tune or wax your skis, buy that special beanie or your new snowboard or stash your kit before heading off for the day. Relax here for après by the roaring open fire with a local beer, wine or enjoy wood-fired pizza or try the sushi. Live entertainment ups the energy on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

 

Seattle Ridge Day Lodge

The place to stop for lunch with a side of breath-taking views of Wood River Valley nearly 9,000 feet below.

Warm Springs Day Lodge

Fully renovated in 2018 is the local’s pick for the famous freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, best eaten on the sun-drenched patio or while listening to the live entertainment inside

Carol’s Dollar Mountain Day Lodge

The family friendly venue an easy walk from the village, with something for everyone. Also a great breakfast or lunch spot, inside or outside on the heated patio.

Must-Dos Off the Slopes – Explore Ketchum

This small town is full of wonderful surprises, great dining, entertainment and has as cool western feel.

Apres Ski

The “Pio” to locals, the Pioneer Inn is classic authentic western saloon. And great place to meet the locals! In addition, Grumpy’s for beer-can lined walls, an authentic local feel and celerity-spotting opportunities or the Warfield Distillery & Brewery for craft cocktails, local brew and excellent locally sourced pub grub.

Carol Singers and Sleigh Ride Dinner

Christmas in Sun Valley comes complete with roving carol singers around the main venues but for the full experience rug up and don’t miss a sleigh-ride dinner at the Trail Cabin. A rustic hideaway reached by horse-drawn sleigh and featuring north-western fare and the best carol singers around.

Art and Culture

Famed author Ernest Hemingway has tributes of booze, flowers and coins left on his simple otherwise unadorned grave site near Ketchum. He wrote “The Sun Also Rises” during a lengthy stay at the Resort and committed suicide in 1961 after a full life of writing, hunting, boozing & womanizing.

Trawl the treasure at the Gold Mine

Visit this community run op shop in downtown Ketchum, legendary for finds of expensive ski wear for a fraction of the cost.

The famous Gold Mine op shop, Ketchum

Get Up and Go: To Sun Valley Idaho.

  • You can be in Sun Valley the same day! Depart Sydney to LA, and fly into Hailey ( SUN) arriving the same date.
  • Hailey (or officially Friedman Memorial) Airport ( SUN) is located outside Ketchum and provides direct flights to Boise and beyond.
  • Boise Airport ( BOI) is a two hour drive from Sun Valley and has direct flights ( also approx. 2 hours ) from LAX.
  • Finally, for more information on your perfect ski getaway to Sun Valley Idaho go to: greatamericanwest.com.au; VisitIdaho.org and SunValley.com
  1. Wild Wild West (1999)

Lewiston, Credit: Idaho Tourism

Many classic films have been shot in Idaho, including western comedy Wild Wild West which features Idaho’s Camas Prairie Railroad, showcasing magnificent views of Grangeville’s rural farmland and Lewiston’s pine-covered landscapes. The railroad is no longer in use but can still be explored today.

  1. Pale Rider (1985)

Sawooth National Recreation Area, Credit: Idaho Tourism

Another film shot in Idaho is Clint Eastwood’s famous Western film Pale Rider. Focusing on the fight over gold mining territory, the film was mainly shot in Idaho’s beautiful Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Boulder Mountains.

  1. Dante’s Peak (1997)

Wallace, Credit: Idaho Tourism

Pierce Brosnan starred in disaster thriller Dante’s Peak which is about citizens trying to survive a volcanic eruption. Many scenes were shot in Idaho’s renowned ghost town of Wallace, featuring the town’s distinctive old buildings.

More info at https://visitidaho.org/ or https://greatamericanwest.com.au/

Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge (2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon!) is an incredible place to experience jet boating in spring or summer. Various jet boating tours will take you upstream from Lewiston, Idaho through the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and up to Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center and Hells Canyon Dam. Be awed by the height of the canyon walls towering over the Snake River and enjoy scenic views of the canyon with its ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir trees, and often many kinds of native wildlife.

Credit: Idaho Tourism

Bike ride, hike, or horse ride the Route of the Hiawatha for panoramic views of Idaho’s Bitterroot Mountains. Once an old railway line, this scenic 15-mile bike track passes through numerous tunnels and towering trestle bridges reaching up to 230 feet high. Many visitors say their favourite part of the ride is the St. Paul Pass (Taft Tunnel) which is located under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line. Start at the Lookout Pass Ski Area to hire mountain bikes, helmets and lights, with an optional shuttle bus available on return. The Route of the Hiawatha is open 8:30am-5pm from about mid-May to mid-September and is all downhill, making it the perfect spot for a scenic family bike ride.

Credit: Idaho Tourism

Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Harrison is a great place to go on a holiday to authentically experience the Great American West. You will be paired with a horse for your stay so that you can ride on the extensive scenic trails with pastures, open hillsides, ridges and narrow paths every day, led by a knowledgeable wrangler. There are many other exciting adventures available including rock climbing and ziplining at the Challenge Course, mountain biking, kayaking and fishing for bass, crappie, trout, and perch. This is an ideal destination for families as there is a Kids Program where children will learn to horse ride, kayak, and go bike riding! You are sure to have a comfortable stay here in one of their 20 suites with cosy bedding, authentic log furniture, and private decks to look out at the breathtaking forest views.

Visit the Warhawk Air Museum to learn more about World War I, World War II, and the Cold War Era through their unique collection of equipment and airplanes including two rare Curtiss P-40 World War II fighter planes. If you love history, then why not attend the 17th Annual Warbird Roundup which is a yearly gathering of famous WWII airplanes at the museum. These historic planes will be flown around in front of you and are sure to wow both adults and children. Additionally, Col. Clarence E (Bud) Anderson and Steven Hinton will give insightful presentations where they will provide interesting information about flying these rare planes. This year the event will be held on August 24-25 from 9am to 4pm.

Enjoy a day skiing at Sun Valley which has over 2,000 acres of terrain and two top mountains, yet nearly no lines due to efficient lift systems. Stay the night at Sun Valley Lodge which has a huge spa, fantastic fitness centre and yoga studio, outdoor pool, restaurants and lounges. There are a variety of different suites you can choose to stay in which are all stylish, comfortable and cosy. One of the most interesting accommodation options is their five Celebrity Suites which are named after celebrities who have stayed here in the past. This includes Marilyn Monroe, Sonia Henie, Ernest Hemingway, Clint Eastwood, and Sun Valley’s founding father Averell Harriman. The suites feature classic photography of these celebrities, a cosy fireplace, living room with flat screen TV, a large bedroom and free Wi-Fi.

Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area is an all-ages winter getaway that is much more than just a ski area. It offers ski terrain, Nordic and snowshoe travels, and a tubing hill as well as many other fun activities. Just last year Bogus Basin added Idaho’s first alpine Coaster called ‘Glade Runner’ which speeds through the beautiful Boise National Forest at over 40 kilometres per hour. The coaster is perfect for all abilities as riders can control their own speed by pressing the handles. Another unique game at Bogus Basin is disc golf where you bring your own discs and try to frisbee them into the raised holes. Bogus Basin is great in every season with 23 mountain biking trails, summer tubing, a bungee trampoline, scenic chairlift rides, hiking and horseback riding.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is an interesting place to go for a hike with friends and family. You can explore caves, craters and lava flows which duplicate the surface of the moon as closely as anything else on Earth. There are many daytime tours such as ranger-led tours every day in September that venture into the lava tube caves. For those who want to learn more about photography, head to Craters of the Moon visitor center on the 22nd September where nature photographer Douglass Owen will give tips on how to best photograph nature. This preserve is recognised by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) as a designated International Dark Sky Park, so it has incredible views of the night sky. To view the fascinating landscape under a full moon at night time, go on the ‘Full Moon Hike’ on the 23rd September. Read more about the activities offered at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.