We just got back from another great Big Trip to Utah, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. This trip finished up all the remaining resorts in the continental western US. By the numbers: 15 days, 3,000 miles driven, 10 ski days, 9 resorts, and 8 that were completely new to us. This was the most new resorts we’ve ever skied on a single trip. Only 12 left to do!
These trips are fun, but they are a LOT of work. Planning, scheduling dog sitting, driving in bad weather, checking in and out of many, many hotels, figuring out lift ticket strategies, and many other details keep us busy in the winter.
After last year’s COVID shut-out, we really felt like it was time to get back to work. The forecast in Tahoe was for weeks of dry weather (which unfortunately continues), so it was a good time to head north and east where the snow was a little better. Crossing the border is still difficult so we decided to ski every resort left that we could drive to in the US: Powder Mountain Utah, Lost Trail Montana, Ski Discovery Montana, Whitefish Montana, Montana Snowbowl, Silver Mountain Idaho, Schweitzer Idaho, and 49 Degrees North, Washington.
- Lost Trail Powder Mountain on the Montana/Idaho border was a real hidden gem. This was one of the most fun days we’ve ever had on the project, with 10″ of powder and empty slopes. This day was a great example of why we like exploring new resorts.
- The town of Whitefish is really cool with a lot of great restaurants. We wish we could afford a ski property there! At the ski resort we took the mountain tour and learned all about the resort and town from some dedicated locals. The resort has a team of 22 (!) mountain hosts who give tours and educate tourists.
- Montana Snowbowl was another hidden gem. It’s steep, uncrowded, and has some really interesting terrain and surprisingly good lunch fare.
- Silver Mountain is a really interesting resort starting with the long gondola ride from and back to the town of Kellogg. The terrain is steep with a lot of steep groomers. There is also excellent long traverse-to terrain on the backside of Wardner Peak.
- Schweitzer is a major resort with a great lift network, plenty of snow, steeps and grooming, and we would definitely like to go back and explore the resort more on a sunny day. Our best lunch was at the summit sit-down restaurant there. Great food and not expensive.
- The steepest stuff we skied was off the Limelight Chair at Discovery. Almost every trail off that lift is legit double-black diamond terrain. It reminded us of Taos or Crested Butte.
- Used all 6 pairs of skis we brought with us! One of the benefits of driving vs flying is to throw all of our skis in the sky box so we can choose the best skis for the snow conditions. Powder, firm groomer, off-piste, or icy slopes, we’ve got the ski for it!
Yes, there were some lowlights like being woken up at 2AM by drunk and rowdy hotel guests in Anaconda Montana. We also got yelled at by the terrain park worker at 49 Degrees North for going through the terrain park TOO FAST (who knew that was a thing??). AND at the same resort getting yelled at by a guest who almost ran into us (we were downhill, having the right of way). Working our way through thick fog with zero visibility on steep terrain at Whitefish and Schweitzer was unsettling. Free breakfasts at hotels — gets old very quickly. Super late lunch (2:30) at Discovery due to big crowds in a small lodge and no other food options. Well, these were all part of the experience and we have learned to make the best of it!
Tahoe is in the midst of a multi-week dry spell with no snow at all, and none on the horizon. It looks like maybe 50 days at a minimum, which is insane after what happened in December. Our next trip is to Vermont in early March. Based on our past experience, that means it will dump in Tahoe! The upcoming Vermont trip will be another ambitious plan to ski 5 new resorts.