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7 Best Idaho Ski Resorts for Beginners

Looking for an adrenaline-packed adventure in the northwestern United States? Look no further than Idaho.

With a population of under two million and a vast expanse of breathtaking natural landscapes, Idaho is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a thrill.

One of the most popular attractions in the state is its exciting ski resorts, which draw visitors from across the country and around the globe.

In fact, Idaho boasts some of the country’s best ski resorts for beginners and intermediate skiers

With gentle slopes, expert instruction, and top-notch facilities, these resorts provide the perfect setting to learn and develop your skills on an enjoyable ski trip.

That said, we’ve rounded up 7 of the best ski resorts in Idaho for beginners, including top-notch options such as Bogus Basin, Schweitzer Mountain Resort, and Brundage Mountain Resort.

All of which offer comprehensive ski school programs and specially designed beginner terrain.

But don’t let the focus on beginners fool you – Idaho’s ski resorts offer a range of activities for skiers of all levels. So, if your friends are already experienced pros seeking a new challenge, Idaho’s ski resorts are the perfect destination for your next ski trip.

#1. Schweitzer Mountain Resort

Schweitzer Mountain Resort
  • Vertical Drop – 2,400 feet
  • Skiable Terrain – 2,900 acres
  • Ski Lifts – 10
  • Number of Trails – 92
  • Average Annual Snowfall – 300 inches

Since its opening in 1963, Schweitzer Mountain Resort has been attracting skiers from all over northern Idaho and Washington. And there is definitely a good reason for that.

With a whopping 25 feet of snowfall per season and fewer crowds, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to carve out long S turns through the powder long after the snowstorm has passed.

As the largest ski resort in Idaho with about 2,900 skiable acres, Schweitzer offers 92 named runs and expansive bowls for experienced skiers to chart their own path down.

For those who are brave enough to tackle the glades, Schweitzer Mountain Resort is famous for its incredible tree skiing.

The resort boasts a vertical drop of 2,400 feet, with a peak elevation of 6,400 feet, and is serviced by 10 lifts, including the state’s only six-passenger chairlift, fondly referred to as Stella.

Not only does Schweitzer have amazing ski runs, but the resort also offers three terrain parks with all the latest features, including humps, bumps, and rails for those who want to try their hand at freestyle skiing.

And if you’re looking for an added challenge, Schweitzer offers CAT skiing and heli-skiing, both options available through Selkirk Powder Guides.

But skiing isn’t the only attraction at Schweitzer. The resort has multiple restaurants, including The Nest and The Red Hawk, to satisfy your hunger after a long day on the slopes.

And for those who want to extend their skiing experience, Schweitzer offers night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays, along with select Sundays, with the runs lit up off the Basin Express and double lifts.

The Herbert’s Hollow tubing and Stomping Grounds terrain parks are also open for night riding.

Where To Stay

If you want to stay close to the action, the new boutique hotel, Humbird, is perfectly located slope-side, with just 31 cozy rooms available.

And for the adventurous ones, there’s the option to camp in the resort’s parking lot for free. Just remember, there’s a three-night maximum stay, but if you ask nicely, they may allow you to stay a little longer.

Overall, Schweitzer offers an unbeatable skiing experience, with options for beginners and experienced skiers alike.

With easy air access from Spokane International Airport and lodging options on-site or in nearby Sandpoint or Ponderay, Schweitzer is the perfect destination for your next ski vacation.

#2. Tamarack Resort

Tamarack Resort
  • Vertical Drop – 2,800 feet
  • Skiable Terrain – 1,100 acres
  • Ski Lifts – 7
  • Number of Trails – 50
  • Average Annual Snowfall- 300 inches

Nestled in the stunning Payette River Mountains, Tamarack Ski Resort is an Idaho gem that’s not to be missed.

Just a 1.5-hour drive from Boise, this resort boasts 2,000 acres (809 ha) of skiable terrain parks and a whopping 2,800 vertical feet (853 m) of drop, making it a skier’s paradise.

Plus, the resort is protected from the westerly winds thanks to its east-facing hill. Tamarack Resort features seven lifts that serve 50 runs, including beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain.

The slopes range from gentle cruisers to heart-pumping black diamond runs, with 17% for beginners, 45% for intermediates, and 38% for seasoned skiers.

And for those seeking thrills and spills, Tamarack resort has four unique terrain parks with jumps, rails, and jibs of all sizes.

Adventurers can take the Tamarack Express lift to access beginner and intermediate runs, while more advanced skiers can head over to the Wildwood Express lift and tackle “The Grove” for an adrenaline-pumping tree skiing experience.

Tamarack is also planning to expand with six new lifts, including a gondola, that will significantly increase lift capacity, and a new all-season facility is also in the works.

These improvements will position Tamarack as a major player in the Idaho ski scene, so keep an eye out for updates on this exciting development.

And if that’s not enough, the resort has three terrain parks, so even seasoned skiers and snowboarders will have plenty of new challenges to enjoy.

Where To Stay

Accommodation options range from luxurious ski-in, ski-out cottages, and penthouse suites at the Village at Tamarack to the cozy Lodge at Osprey Meadows and Tamarack Homes and Cottages.

And if you’re looking to stay off the mountain, McCall and Cascade is just a short 30-minute drive away. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a newbie, Tamarack Resort is the perfect destination for your next winter getaway.

The closest airport is Boise International Airport, just a 2-hour and 14-minute drive away.

#3. Soldier Mountain Ski Resort

Soldier Mountain Ski Resort
  • Vertical Drop – 1,425 feet
  • Skiable Terrain – 1,150 acres
  • Ski Lifts – 3
  • Number of Trails – 25
  • Average Annual Snowfall – 250 Inches

Nestled near Kellogg, Soldier Mountain is a charming ski hill that caters to the local community. It boasts impressive amounts of snow, comparable to nearby Silver Mountain’s whopping 26 feet.

What sets this resort apart is its authentic, old-school atmosphere and its beginner and intermediate-friendly terrain parks.

At the summit of High Trail Express, the Bird’s Eye chairlift awaits, transporting skiers to the peak of Soldier Mountain, where they can choose to descend on a range of short, easy runs.

Alternatively, they can take the cat track down to Pioneer Peak or Mill Point, two stunning locations featuring wide-open bowls for advanced skiers.

Soldier Mountain’s cat skiing option is a major draw – it’s the only resort in central Idaho to offer this.

After hopping on the snow cat, visitors can access three higher peaks in the area, treating them to a staggering 10,000 to 15,000 vertical feet in a single day.

For added convenience, the resort offers overnight parking for campers and RVs, a rarity in the ski industry.

While the resort primarily caters to beginners and intermediates, Silver Mountain offers affordable lift rates and lessons for all skill levels. Its terrain park, located next to the High Trail Express chair, features all the classic obstacles for freestylers.

But if you’re seeking a true adventure, sign up for the Snow Cat skiing experience. These incredible machines will transport you and your group to the top of Smoky Dome, nearly 10,095 feet above sea level.

From there, acres upon acres of pristine snow await, giving you and your buddies plenty of room to carve perfect S curves and revel in the excitement of untouched terrain.

Soldier Mountain is situated in the stunning Sawtooth National Forest and offers 1,150 acres of lift-accessible skiing.

Where To Stay

The closest airport is Friedman Memorial Airport, just an hour away. For lodging, guests can stay at the Killdeer Kottage, the Prairie Inn, or the Historic Lincoln Inn, or even camp for free in their RV at the north end of the resort’s parking lot.

#4. Sun Valley Ski Resorts

Sun Valley Ski Resorts
  • Vertical Drop – 3,400 feet
  • Skiable Terrain – 2,434 acres
  • Ski Lifts – 18
  • Number of Trails – 121
  • Average Annual Snowfall – 220 inches

Nestled in the heart of Idaho, Sun Valley reigns supreme as one of the world’s most renowned ski resorts in Idaho. And for good reason.

It was in this ski area where the very first chairlift was born, revolutionizing the skiing industry forever.

With 120 out of 150 skiable days typically boasting sunshine, visitors have an impressive 80% chance to bask in the warmth as they glide down the mountain.

Sun Valley features two major peaks, including Dollar Mountain and Bald Mountain. Bald Mountain caters to intermediate to advanced skiers with its lengthy cruisers, steep chutes, and dense glades.

Sun Valley’s other mountain offers the perfect terrain for families, beginners, and those just starting out. Annually, Sun Valley is blanketed with over 18 feet of snow.

The resort has expanded its snowmaking arsenal to include 600 guns covering 78% of skiable runs, ensuring the season starts early and lasts late.

With over 3,400 ft of vertical slip and 121 named trails, skiers and snowboarders will never run out of slopes to carve.

After a run, visitors can hop onto one of the 18 lifts, which includes a gondola, to get back to the top quickly. Thrill-seekers can take on the 12 terrain parks catered to boarders and freestylers.

Recently, Sun Valley underwent a massive expansion with the addition of the Sunrise zone, spanning 380 acres of new terrain. The area features a mix of open bowls, glades, and steep chutes, best suited for strong intermediate to expert skiers.

Once a secret known only to locals, now the word is out. Another improvement is the former Cold Springs chair, the mountain’s oldest workhorse double, which has been hocked to another resort in California to enjoy its remaining years.

In its place, the new Broadway chairlift, a high-speed detachable quad chair, makes accessing the best sections of the mountain effortless from the base.

Where To Stay

Sun Valley Lodge, a classic ski lodge that served as a favored escape for Hollywood celebs in the 1940s, is the ideal place to stay.

Other accommodation options include the Sun Valley Inn, Condos, townhomes, and cottages.

For those on a budget, Hailey, located 14 miles roughly away and a short 20-minute drive, offers affordable lodging. To save time, rent skis and snowboard supplies before arrival.

#5. Lookout Pass Ski Resort

Lookout Pass Ski Resort
  • Vertical Drop – 1,650 feet
  • Skiable Terran – 1,023 acres
  • Ski Lifts – 4
  • Number of Trails – 38
  • Average Annual Snowfall – 430 Inches

Searching for the ultimate snowy destination in Idaho? Look no further because the Lookout Pass is extremely snowy. With over 33 feet of snowfall each season, this resort guarantees top-notch ski conditions.

Boasting 35 named runs serviced by three lifts, Lookout Pass offers a variety of terrain for all skill levels. The resort’s famous tree glades are a must-try for adventurous skiers and snowboarders.

And for the 2022/23 season, Lookout Pass has invested $3.5 million in a new fixed-grip quad chairlift, providing access to brand-new terrain and approximately 15 new runs.

The nearly one-mile-long chairlift will service an area higher than the rest of the mountain, offering light and fluffy snow that is sure to impress.

Previously, this area could only be accessed via Snowcat. Thrill-seekers can also check out 2 terrain parks – Rolling Thunder and Huckleberry Jam.

The latter features an impressive 1,111-foot quarter pipe. Families with kids aged 6-17 can take advantage of Lookout Pass’s free ski lessons program.

Pre-registration is required, and spots fill up quickly, so be sure to sign up on the resort’s website. Lessons for beginners last an hour, while intermediate lessons run for an hour and a half.

The program runs for nine weeks, culminating in a graduation ceremony in March. Lookout Pass has been operating continuously since 1935 and retains its charming old-time feel.

In fact, the day lodge at the base is the second-oldest in the entire northwest region. This resort is also more affordable than many other Idaho ski resorts and offers free lessons to children aged 6-17.

Where To Stay

The nearest airports are Spokane International Airport (Washington) and Missoula Montana Airport (Montana), both a 1 hour and 45-minute drive away.

Though Lookout Pass does not have its own lodging, there are many partner hotels in the nearby towns of Kellogg, Wallace, and Mullan to choose from.

#6. Bogus Basin Ski Resort

Bogus Basin Ski Resort
  • Vertical Drop – 1,800 feet
  • Skiable Terrain – 2,600 acres
  • Ski Lifts: 10
  • Number of Trails: 82
  • Average Annual Snowfall – 225 Inches

If you’re seeking a winter getaway that won’t break the bank, Bogus Basin should be at the top of your list.

Just a quick 40-minute drive from Boise, this non-profit ski resort offers affordable lift tickets and plenty of on-mountain dining options.

Plus, if you’re a true powder hound, night skiing across 175 acres will keep you carving up the slopes well into the evening.

With nearly 27 feet of snowfall annually, there’s no shortage of terrain to explore. You’ll have your pick of 91 named runs, and with 11 lifts, including 4 high-speed detachable chairs, you won’t have to wait long to get back to the top.

And, if you’re looking for a break from downhill skiing, Bogus Basin also offers tubing, a winter roller coaster, and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on extensive trail networks.

Don’t want to haul your gear to the parking lot? No problem. Three of the seven parking lots offer ski-in/ski-out access.

Where To Stay

For those seeking budget-friendly accommodations, partner hotels in downtown Boise offer discounted ski lift tickets and activity passes.

Stay at The Pioneer Condominiums for easy ski-in/ski-out access, or opt for one of several eligible discount bundle hotels, including Hotel 43, The Riverside Hotel, and The Grove Hotel.

So, whether you’re looking for a quick mid-week ski escape or a budget-friendly vacation, Bogus Basin has got you covered. And with such a great location and affordable prices, it’s no wonder this Southern Idaho gem is a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

#7. Brundage Mountain Ski Resort

Brundage
  • Vertical Drop – 1,921 feet
  • Skiable Terrain – 1,920 acres
  • Ski Lifts – 6 Lifts
  • Number of Trails – 67 Runs
  • Average Annual Snowfall – 320 Inches

Based in a prime location to catch storms from both the north and south, Brundage Mountain is a winter wonderland for thrill-seekers and adventurers alike.

With a whopping average of 26 feet of snowfall per season, Brundage mountain boasts a vast array of untouched snow stashes just waiting to be discovered.

Boasting 70 named alpine trails, Brundage has something to offer skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Whether you’re a novice, intermediate, or advanced rider, you’ll find perfect Nordic trails for your skill set.

Some of the most famous scenic trails include Dropline Trail, Temptation Trail, Kickback Trail, and North Trail. Although the resort has a modest 51 runs, the areas between the runs truly set Brundage apart.

Known for its world-class tree skiing and lift-serviced backcountry bowls, Brundage mountain is a powder hound’s paradise. And if you’re willing to hike for it, you’ll be rewarded with even more fresh tracks.

But if you prefer to cruise on wide-open intermediate runs, you’ll have enough room to ride here. And for the freestyles and snowboarders, Brundage features two terrain parks complete with rollers, boxes, jibs, and rails.

With six lifts, including a high-speed quad, Brundage offers access to a vertical drop of just under 2,000 feet.

But for those seeking even more vertical thrills, CAT skiing is available, granting access to 18,000 acres of pristine snow spread across 3 mountains: Slab Butte, Granite, and #76.

Where To Stay

Boise International Airport is the closest airport, but be prepared for a 2-hour and 30-minute drive to reach Brundage.

However, if you’re looking for a more picturesque place to stay, McCall is a charming mountain town just eight miles away with a plethora of options for vacation homes, hotels, lodges, cabins, and condos.

And for those seeking a budget-friendly option, the resort offers free RV camping in winter in the Centennial Parking Lot.

Other Ski Resorts Suitable For Beginners in Idaho

Other Ski Resorts Suitable For Beginners in Idaho

If you’re looking for world-class ski destinations in Idaho, consider these other ski resorts scattered throughout the state, each with their own unique charm.

For starters, Grand Targhee Resort is located just over the border in Wyoming and boasts an impressive 42 feet of snow each season, making it a top destination for Nordic skiing. With 97 runs, you’ll have plenty of options to explore.

If you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate resort, check out Silver Mountain. Nestled in northern Idaho, this resort offers both skiing and the state’s largest waterpark resort, Silver Rapids.

With plenty of nearby lodging options, including the Morning Star Lodge, you’re sure to have a great time at Silver Mountain Resort.

Kelly Canyon is another great option for those in or visiting eastern Idaho. With a yearly snowfall of 200 inches, this resort offers excellent skiing conditions, even supplementing with snow blowing when needed. Nearby Ririe offers convenient lodging options.

Pomerelle Mountain Resort is one of the earliest ski resorts in Idaho to open each season, offering a staggering 500 inches of snowfall annually. Burley is the nearest city with lodging options.

Cottonwood Butte Ski Area, located in north central Idaho, offers four major groomed runs and powdery trails among the trees. With night skiing and an 845-foot vertical drop, it’s a great destination for ski enthusiasts. Lewiston offers nearby lodging options.

Lastly, Magic Mountain is a small ski hill ideal for families and beginners, with 11 runs and three lifts. Despite its small size, it offers a memorable skiing experience, all while remaining affordable and safe.

With a base elevation of 6,500 feet and a summit elevation of 7,240 feet, it’s a magical place to explore. And it’s just an hour drive from Twin Falls.

FAQs

FAQs

Q: Is Schweitzer Ski Resort Good for Beginners?

A: Yes. Schweitzer Mountain Resort is good for beginners. About 10% of the resort’s 2900 acres is reserved for beginner skiers.

Q: What Makes Idaho a Great Destination for Beginner Skiers?

A: Idaho is home to some of the best ski resorts in the country, and many of them are particularly well-suited for beginners. With wide, gentle slopes and excellent ski schools, these resorts offer an ideal environment for learning to ski or snowboard.

Q: What Are Some of the Best Idaho Ski Resorts for Beginners?

A: Sun Valley, Bogus Basin, Brundage Mountain, and Schweitzer Mountain are some of the top ski resorts in Idaho for novice skiers.

These resorts offer a wide variety of beginner-friendly terrain, excellent ski schools, and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere perfect for those new to skiing or snowboarding.

Q: What Should Beginners Look for When Choosing a Ski Resort in Idaho?

A: When choosing a ski resort in Idaho, beginners should look for a resort with a good selection of beginner-friendly terrain. Choosing a resort with a high-quality ski school and amenities like rental equipment and on-mountain dining is also important.

Q: What Can Beginners Expect When Learning to Ski at an Idaho Ski Resort?

A: Learning to ski or snowboard at an Idaho ski resort is an experience that is sure to be both exciting and rewarding. Skiers and snowboarders of all levels will find a range of terrain options, from gentle beginner runs to more challenging terrain for those ready to progress.

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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