When someone mentions a great ski resort, destinations that pop into the mind of any skier or rider include Vail, Jackson Hole, Park City, and Squaw Valley. Idaho is the last place any sane person would look to vacation, let alone go for a ski trip. It's rather unfortunate for them that they don't live in a suburb of Boise as I do. I live within a few hours of several world-class (yet not over-commercialized and over-populated) resorts. Here's some background on Idaho's skiing and my experience!
If you're planning on spending the money to go to one of the big-ticket destinations, why not go to a less crowded area with beautiful lodging? Tamarack resort has had recent financial troubles, and as a result isn't busy at all. It's fairly easy to access, being only 2 1/2 hours from Boise and a few minutes from McCall, Idaho. As an added bonus, it's hardly 20 miles from another ski area, Brundage Mountain. Both mountains offer plentiful powder well into the spring, close proximity to a kind and quaint town, and cheap lift tickets (especially when compared to Colorado, Utah, and California destinations!).
In the opposite direction – but with equally exquisite beauty – is Sun Valley. Often ranked as a top skiing destination, Sun Valley is the only highly recognized resort in Idaho. It is more expensive than Tamarack or Brundage, but offers snowmaking capabilities, excellent food and lodging, and a scenic town in the basin around the mountains.
Enough about other resorts! My experience with Idaho skiing has been wonderful. My trip this winter is certainly one to do again.
We started planning before ski season. Even with how deserted it is, Tamarack’s lodging is still in high demand. We made reservations for a cabin right next to one of the lifts, something I would definitely recommend. It is wonderful to walk out of your back door, put on your skis, and be launched up the mountain on one of the several ‘quad’ lifts Tamarack operates.
Once your reservations are made, all you really have to do is throw your gear (and food) in the back of your snow-worthy vehicle and hit the road. There’s only one real way to get to Tamarack from Boise, and that’s Highway 55. It’s practically a straight shot North through the mountains from Boise. Eventually you will happen upon the town of Donnelly (before reaching the more popular McCall), right across a lake from Tamarack.
A simple matter of getting your lodge keys and driving a few miles up the mountain, and you’ve discovered paradise. Tamarack is a secluded powdery heaven with a beautiful view of the valley.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the next day we decided to try our hand (well, our legs) at Brundage. Bigger than Tamarack, it is much more popular and crowded. However, it offers excellent snow, friendly staff, and long tame runs with plenty of options for exploring.
You have to go through McCall to get to Brundage. The food at the resort isn’t bad, but you should skip dinner. On your way back, I highly recommend stopping at The Pancake House. It has great breakfast-style food in portions that would feed a herd of starving elephants, all in a great atmosphere.
Next time you’re deciding where in the country to ski, pick Idaho while it’s still unheard of!
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