Early and ample snow is the main attraction at Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area. For those of us who can hardly wait to get started, Lookout Pass is probably where we will kick off our 2016-17 snow sports season.
This modest resort, with its parking lot at the end of the 1-90 off ramp on the Idaho/Montana state line, is the beneficiary of a microclimate that delivers an average snowfall consistently higher than its nearby neighbors.
“Lookout is fortunate enough to average over 400 inches of snow a year,” said Jason Bergman, Lookout’s marketing director. “We always anticipate having a good season, but this one could be better than par.”
It’s not unreasonable to believe that opening day could be a mere month away, given predictions of above average snowfall in the coming months driven by the La Nina climate phenomenon.
“We got our first snow last week, so we’re a month ahead of schedule,” Bergman said. “Our first snow last year was Nov. 2 and we opened on Thanksgiving. In November, once it turns on, it wants to stay on.”
Aside from its high quality snow, Lookout has built a family-oriented reputation with affordable lift tickets, a free ski school for kids and mellow, user-friendly runs. But the mountain also has a few untamed descents and tight glades that will put a smile on the faces of powder hounds that know where to find them.
You can ski or ride in two different states at Lookout. Three double chairs from the 5,560-foot summit of Runt Mountain open nearly 360-degree access to wide boulevards in a classic alpine setting. Those who prefer steeper, ungroomed terrain head for the Idaho side of the mountain served by chair No. 3. The side country is also tempting, but unless you earn the trust of a local guide, stay in bounds.
“In good conditions with all chairlifts running the mountain spreads out really nice.” Bergman said. “If you’re looking for a nice cruiser with spectacular views, I always recommend Rainbow Ridge. It has a nice double fall line, it’s nice and wide, a really casual corduroy run.
“If you want to get into good trees and powder, my favorite area is Lucky Friday Glades. It actually holds a lot more snow and you can still find powder in there a day or two after a powder day. For something steeper, check out the Idaho side.”
The most obvious change at Lookout this season is the absence of the terrain park on the front side of the mountain; a move Bergman calls a “double positive.”
“We removed the terrain park called Borderline on the Montana face,” he said. That allows for our powder hounds to enjoy more powder runs on the face without a terrain park in the middle of a nice fall line. It also allows us to move features over to the Huckleberry side, and help that park expand a little bit.”
The biggest changes at Lookout are planned for the future. Mountain management has announced the construction of a new 14,000-foot base lodge starting next spring. A long-range expansion plan has been making the rounds with the U.S. Forest Service for the past several years. But when you show up this season, you will find business as usual: a modest, well-managed ski area with a laid back, community atmosphere and great snow.
Child 6 & under
Senior (62 yrs+)
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