I’m smitten with the old-school charm of Idaho’s ski areas.
A recent whirlwind tour of the northern section of the state included a stop at Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area, where I spent the day exploring the resort’s new terrain. And yes, just before I was heading in, I took an awkward spill and wound up at the hospital with an injured knee.
The good news? Allison Kaufman of the Lookout Pass Ski Patrol transported me safely and cheerfully down the hill, then wrapped me up in bubble wrap and cardboard like a UPS pro. I’m waiting now to find out if I’ll need surgery to repair the damaged cartilage.
One pro tip? If you need rentals, head to Kellogg and pick them up at Lookout Ski Shop. The Lookout Pass fleet of rental skis just won’t cut it on a powder day. They’re too skinny.
Ten reasons to visit Lookout Pass
Still, here are my top reasons to check out Lookout Pass:
- The resort roughly doubled in size this season, adding 500 acres of new terrain, a new quad chairlift and 14 new trails on Eagle Peak, now the highest point in the park. Until this season, skiers and boarders had to hop a snowcat to access the area.
- You can ski both Idaho and Montana. The resort straddles the border between the two states – and the time zone. Wear a watch and don’t rely on your smart phone for the current time.
- The Civilian Conservation Corps built the base lodge, the second oldest in the Northwest behind Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood, in 1941. The huge hewn timbers that support the ceiling are gorgeous.
- The Lookout Pass free ski school started in 1940 – and it’s still going. Since its inception, the school has introduced about 38,000 kids to skiing and snowboarding.
- You won’t find any on-slope lodging at Lookout Pass, but that helps it maintain its quaint charm. Nearby Wallace, the self-declared “Center of the Universe” (just look for the manhole cover in the middle of town) makes a great home base. I stayed at the no-frills Wallace Inn on Interstate 90.
- Lift tickets are affordable. In 1950s, skiers shelled out 50 cents for a ticket. Today, customers shell out $52 for a weekday pass or $63 for a weekend pass. But you can find deals – like the two lift tickets for $75 on Thursdays.
- If you’d rather ride a bike than ski or ride a snowboard, consider a summertime visit. I’m already plotting a return trip to pedal the Route of the Hiawatha Scenic Bike Trail. The 15-mile trail, which is open from May 26 through Sept. 17, features 10 tunnels and seven trestle bridges.
- The resort serves up great views of the Bitterroot Mountains.
- More expansion is in the works. Long-term plans call for expanding onto another southwest of the existing ski area.
- Long gladed stretches, my favorite.