Two of my favourite things in life are snowboarding and making lists. The third is eating copious amounts of chocolate, but there was no way of incorporating that into this post, so the first two will have to suffice.
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting three ski resorts in Idaho and had an absolute blast. Here are 10 of my favourite reasons why you should make your next ski/snowboard vacation an Idaho one!
1. The first ever ski resort was in Idaho.
It’s true! Sun Valley is known for being America’s first ever ski resort. In 1936 they opened the worlds first chairlift and have been going strong ever since. If you would go to Italy for pizza, England for a good cup of tea, then wouldn’t it make sense to go to Idaho to ski?
2. There are mountains…real mountains.
This point is close to my heart and reason enough to travel across the country to snowboard in Idaho. I have been going to a hill my whole life that has been falsely advertised as a “mountain”. And you know what they say, once you go mountain you can’t go back. And by “they” I clearly mean only me.
3. You can use the word “powder” and actually mean it.
The snow conditions rival that of major resorts in Colorado and Utah. When I was there the runs were expertly groomed and had a couple inches of fresh powder on top. When I ended the day saying “wow I carved some fresh powder” I wasn’t merely saying it to be cool – it was true.
4. It feels authentic.
I was taken back to a place where people learned to ski/snowboard and THEN decked themselves in head-to-toe Burton. Not the other way around. Walking around and talking to people I realized how much they truly love to ski, and not just participate in the manufactured culture. There is a genuine excitement and buzz in the air and it truly makes you feel like you are a part of a shared experience.
5. It’s financially sound.
That is my fancy way of saying, holy it’s cheap! All the resorts I visited ranged between 40-60 dollars for a full day lift ticket. There are also special rates for late arrivals, days of the week, and once a year for being a woman! Yes, you heard me right. Saturday February 1st was Diva Day at Brundage Mountain. It is an annual event that lets woman ski/snowboard for a mere $25 dollars and treat themselves to chairlift messages, base yoga, and tons of brightly coloured festivities. Chance was on my side and I got to experience this awesome event which raises awareness and funds for breast cancer.
6. Five minutes is considered a long wait.
This was probably the most shocking thing I learned. The ski resorts in Idaho are still considered hidden gems. With that comes the many benefits of little traffic, peaceful runs and my favourite, practically no lines. I went on some of the busiest days and the longest I waited was 3.5 minutes. Most of the time I just glided right through. In fact, an employee told me that one time when they had record breaking waits of 7 mins, they got dozens of letters of complaint. I told them to direct them to me and I can tell them about the time I waited an hour and a half in Whistler.
7. Everything is close by.
Chances are if you are heading to Idaho to ski you will fly into Boise. From there everything is a short (and quite scenic) drive away. Bogus Basin is only 16 miles away, Tamarack Resort is 90 miles away and Brundage Mountain is 107 miles away. You can easily rent a car and hit all of them in the same weekend.
8. People are really REALLY friendly.
People joke that there is a one degree of separation in Idaho. Given the amount of times I saw people stop to say hello to someone they know, it’s no joke. Even if they don’t know them, it doesn’t stop them from treating everyone like they are best friends. Every single person I met was grandma level friendly – and that’s the highest level of friendly you can be. It is very contagious and by the end of my week there I caught myself saying hello and how are you to every single person that walked in front of me.
9. McCall is one of the cutest ski towns I have ever been to.
Quant just doesn’t begin to describe it. Situated along Payette Lake it is a hub of activity during the summer and winter. It is small enough to walk the ends in a couple minutes, but boasts some amazing attributes. During the day you are a short drive or shuttle from the base of the mountain, and at night you can have outstanding food and drink. Rupert’s in the Hotel McCall is award winning and my dish of steak and mac n cheese is just one example of deliciousness. There is a local brewery and a couple bars to enjoy a drink and a phenomenal view.
Honourable mention needs to go to The Shore Lodge for being probably one of the nicest, yet surprisingly affordable, hotels I have ever been to. They especially wowed me with their extendable sink contraption to hold all my toiletries. It really is the little things that make me happy.
10. Hot Springs, need I say more.
I am a sucker for hot springs, especially in the winter months, while the snow lightly falls all around you. I was in luck because a short distance from both Tamarack and Brundage is Gold Fork Hot Springs. It is the only place that I managed to go to twice on my trip. It is the perfect way to relax your muscles from a day on the slopes (or in my case soothe my many bruises). Just a quick tip – the road becomes pretty rural as you get close so make sure you take it easy and drive safely!
Haven’t convinced you yet? Then I guess I will just have to enjoy this hidden gem all to myself for just a little while longer.
Cheers from 30,000 feet.
Disclosure: Idaho Tourism provided for my travel and accommodation in exchange for writing about my experience. Regardless, everything I have said in this post reflects my honest observations and opinions.