From not-so-humble beginnings at the glitzy Sun Valley Resort, Idaho has been at skiing’s cutting edge of winter activity since 1936, when railroad magnate Averell Harriman lured Hollywood celebrities and world-class ski racers to his million-dollar resort.
All the limelight that falls upon Sun Valley also reflects on Idaho’s other alpine areas. In general terms, Idaho skiing is on light and dry powder snow with few crowds. Known for a variety of terrain, the Idaho ski areas range from inexpensive Lookout Pass, where an adult ticket is $19, to upscale Sun Valley, where an adult ticket runs $52.
Skiers can visit the Idaho Division of Tourism’s Web site at visitid.org/ or call (800) VISITID for statewide information.
Overlooking Boise is the Bogus Basin ski area, which offers varied slopes for skiers, boarders and ski racers. Bogus is called Boise’s mountain for a good reason: most of the skiers on the 2,600 acres are local.
New this year is some final grade and landscaping of the base area, a leftover job from last year’s major expansion, which includes a new high-speed quad.
Additionally, close to 1 million board feet of timber was removed from within the Bogus Basin permit area for improved skier safety, forest health and improved glade skiing. Most noticeable is the Superior run, which has been widened by 300 feet to accommodate both moguls and groomed skiing. New this year is a yet-to-be-named run offering 1,000 vertical feet of groomed intermediate cruising near the Deer Point Express.
Bogus skiers and boarders zig and zag on both sides of the mountain, and both sides of sunset: night skiing runs until 10 p.m. seven days a week.
In the Nordic area, a new two kilometers connects trails for less advanced skiers accessing the lower loop trails. Best news at Bogus is that the 16-mile road from Boise is due for complete make-over next spring.
Information: Bogus is 16 miles north of Boise. Lift tickets: adult $31; child (ages 6-14) and seniors (65+) $22. Day care: Reservations necessary for children 6 month to 6 years; call (208) 332-5358; immunization records required. Lessons: group $18; private $38 per hour. Nordic: Bogus Basin Recreation Area offers 20k of nordic trails groomed for skate and classic skiing. Adult trail passes are $8, child and senior $4. Nordic center: (208) 332-5389. Main phone: (208) 332-5100.
Reservations: (800) 367-4397. Snow phone: (208) 342-2100. E-mail: email@example.com; Web site bogusbasin.com.
Brundage Mountain near McCall opens this season with a farewell to the old Pioneer Chairlift and introduction of the new Blue Bird Express high-speed quad. That means a trip to the top takes half the time, so skiers can get in twice the turns. Brundage offers 38 runs on 1,800 vertical feet. Locals tout the lack of crowds and some of the deepest powder in the West.
Snow-cat skiing adventures remain popular at Brundage. New this year, guides ski with a group for two days, serve up a hearty dinner and sing guests to sleep in a warm, comfy backcountry yurt. Cat skiers ski open, gentle snowfields, steep narrow chutes, and everything in between. Rates run $165 per person full day or $395 for the two days and one night. Vertical feet per run varies from 800 to 2,500. Reservations are necessary at (800) 888-SKII.
Information: Located 8 miles from McCall, which is 100 miles north of Boise on U.S. 55. Lift tickets: adults $29; junior (13-18) and senior (over 65) $24; child (7-12) $17; kids 6 and under ski free. Day care: for children 6 weeks to 8 years for $25 ($30 in diapers), $16 ($18 in diapers) half day. Lessons: group $21 per hour; private $38 per hour. Nordic: available in the Payette National Forest. Phone: (208) 634-7462 or (800) 888-7544. Reservations: (800) 551-8234. Snow phone: (888) ALL-SNOW. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site brundage.com.
Traditionally one of the first mountains to open every winter, Lookout Pass ski area is a community hill, short on lift lines and long on friendliness. One double chairlift and one rope tow take skiers up the 850 vertical feet to ski over the 300 skiable acres. Bucking the trend at other U.S. resorts, Lookout reduced the price of an adult lift ticket by $1, to $19.
New this year at Lookout is added terrain on the mountain’s backside just inside the Montana border. The 40-acres include the nation’s longest half-pipe. The grade on the 1,111-foot half-pipe varies, but in some places is steeper than 30 percent.
The pass is open Thursday through Sundays and every day during the Christmas holiday.
Information: 90 miles east of Spokane and 12 miles east of Wallace on Interstate 90 at the Idaho/Montana border. Lift tickets: adult $19; junior (7-18) and senior (60+) $14; children 6 and under ski free. Day care: none. Lessons: group $12; private $40. Nordic: 10 miles of nordic trails leave from the Lookout Pass parking lot. Free. Phone: (208) 777-7701. Reservations: (208) 777-7701. Snow phone: Spokane (509) 458-8800 ex. 6013, or (208)-744-1301. E-mail: email@example.com; Web site lookout.com.
Sun Valley’s 13 lifts over 2,054 skiable acres prove that sometimes bigger is better. Today’s facilities are light years from the Sun Valley of 1935, when an Austrian noble, Count Felix Schaffgotsch, searched the West for what was to become one of the world’s best known resorts.
At that time, Averell Harriman desired to start a resort where his Union Pacific Railway could transport guests. Sun Valley’s rich history includes Olympic medalists, famous ski school instructors and plenty of Hollywood stars.
Today Sun Valley visits include skiing, (both alpine and Nordic) skating, swimming, bowling, snowshoeing, shopping, and especially eating at one of the area’s dozens of eateries.
The multitude of lifts - including seven high-speed quads - make lift lines a rarity.
Information: Located on U.S. 93, 81 miles north of Twin Falls. Lift tickets: adult $52; child $29; multi-day discount tickets available. Day care: Play School age 6 months to 6 years; call (208) 622-2288. Lessons: group $45 for 3-hour lesson; private $77 per hour. Nordic: Sun Valley Nordic Center Trail fee (last year’s rates) $11 adult, senior (65+) $8, child (6-12) $6, under 6 free; call (208) 622-2231. North Valley Trails $7 adult, $2 child, $2 dogs (certain trails only). Main phone: (800) 786-8259 or (800) 634-3347. Reservations: (800) 786-8259. Snow phone: (800) 635-4150. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site sunvalley.com.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: GREAT DEALS IN IDAHO: Sun Valley Special Theme Weeks offer discounted rates and special agendas such as parties, races and special events. The weeks run in January and March. The Ketchum Area Rapid Transit (KART) provides free transportation throughout the Wood River Valley, including to and from the ski centers. At Brundage Mountain, kids ski free Dec. 1-20 with a purchase of an adult lift ticket. Lookout Pass offers free kids’ lessons every Saturday. For the last 56 years, kids age 5 to 17 have received free instruction for 13 consecutive Saturdays. Free bus transport from North Idaho and Montana is available. Adult lift ticket prices are one dollar cheaper this year at Lookout Pass: $19 a day.
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