Forget the glitz of Aspen, Vail and Jackson Hole.
Americans are in search of affordable, uncrowded ski towns that ooze culture and outdoorsy lifestyles.
Sandpoint has all of the above, according to Snow Country Magazine.
This city of 6,000 and Schweitzer Mountain Resort made the magazine’s list of eight promising places to live and play in the Rocky Mountain West.
“If you move to Sandpoint, your primary dilemma will be whether to invest in a sonar-equipped fishing boat or a new pair of skis,” the summer issue of the magazine said.
“No sooner are skis stowed than it’s time to haul out the golf clubs, bikes and fishing gear. The mild weather has earned the area its ‘banana belt’ nickname.”
Banana belt is an exaggeration, admitted Bill Mullane, Schweitzer’s communications director.
A blizzard hit Schweitzer Tuesday, dumping several inches of snow on the resort’s summer season.
“I wouldn’t call this banana belt weather. You have to be a pretty hardy and stout person to handle snow in June,” Mullane said.
The resort had 50 seniors at an Elderhostel program who braved a llama hike Tuesday through the snow.
Just last week, skiers were hiking to the backside of the mountain to take a few runs while in town people boated and biked.
The magazine not only touted Schweitzer’s slopes, it fawned over Lake Pend Oreille (Idaho’s largest), the restored mission-style Panida Theater and the Festival at Sandpoint concerts, drawing the likes of Lyle Lovett and Willie Nelson.
It also said an average home, priced at $150,000, was a bargain compared to a $1.7 million singlefamily abode in Aspen.
“This is the kind of publicity we like to get,” said Sandpoint chamber director Jonathan Coe.
Other residents don’t get as excited about their secret being featured in a magazine mailed to more than 473,000 homes.
There’s always a segment that wants to close the gate behind them and keep Sandpoint small and quaint, Coe said.
But what concerns him more are the people who read about Sandpoint, pack up and move expecting to find their personal paradise.
“Sure it’s wonderful, but folks coming here without any idea of how to make a living can be disappointed.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo