Copyright Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.
I’ll just get the bad news out of the way. The latest snow forecast from AccuWeather.com predicts below normal snowfall for the Northwest. So it probably will not be an epic powder season. The good news is that there are six ski resorts to choose from within three hours of Spokane, and if you don’t feel comfortable betting on a season pass for any individual resort, many offer great deals on smaller ticket packages.
Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is less than an hour’s drive from Spokane, which has become a more important feature as gas prices have continued to rise recently. In addition to a terrain park with almost a mile of progression-oriented kickers, hits, and jibs for all skill levels and five chairlifts for 45 runs, Mt. Spokane is known for its plentiful night skiing (50 nights, 16 runs, only $20) and the Children’s Choice Tubing Hill (open on weekends, $10 per 1.5-hour session and free for kids under 42” tall). This year, you can enjoy the newly updated lodge, which now offers 100 more seats, a new deck, and four big screen TVs.
Looking for a deal? Through December 31, you can purchase a stocking stuffer package of three adult lift tickets, four college student lift tickets, or five youth lift tickets for $99. Click here for season pass prices and the special deals you receive at other area resorts with your purchase.
49 Degrees North Terrain Park. Copyright 40 Degrees North Mountain Resort.
Silver Mountain Resort is a wonderful family getaway destination only an hour from Spokane. Skiers and snowboarders will appreciate the two mountains of terrain, with a terrain park and 73 runs to choose from. The mountains average 300” of snow per year. You don’t have to drive up a long, winding road to arrive, but instead are transported from the base village up to the slopes on a scenic, 3-mile gondola ride. Silver Mountain also features a four lane snow tube park. Click here for lift ticket and tubing prices. If you stay at the resort’s Morning Star Lodge, you’ll have access to Idaho’s largest indoor waterpark, which is always a cozy 84 degrees.
49 Degrees North Mountain Resort also averages 300” inches of snow per year. This family friendly resort is about one hour and 45 minutes from Spokane. 49 Degrees North has seven lifts, 82 marked trails, a terrain park, and cross country and snowshoe trails. With a wonderfully easy bunny hill and 30% of its trails appropriate for beginners (40% intermediate, 25% advanced, 5% expert), this is a great place to learn to ski and to bring the whole family. New this season is the opening of the Angel Peak double chairlift to serve the seven runs and nearly 200 acres of glade terrain added three years ago to Angel Peak. Check out the events calendar for fun special days like women’s snowshoe day and a few night skiing sessions. Click here for season ticket prices.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. It’s about two hours from Spokane, near beautiful Lake Pend Oreille. An efficient network of nine lifts service 2900 acres offering 92 trails plus open bowl skiing and three terrain parks. This is a great place for experienced skiers, with 10% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced, 15% expert terrain.
Night skiing and night tubing (great date idea!) are open Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays for pretty much the whole season. Tubing and zip line rides are also available during the day on weekends. Click here for the schedule. Zip line rides are 700 feet long and offer scenic views of Lake Pend Oreille. You can also enjoy cat skiing and guided snowmobile tours. Average snowfall is 300”. Click here for ticket prices.
Lookout Pass Ski Area is located on the Idaho/Montana border two and a half hours from Spokane. It’s safe to say that this resort will be more insulated from the below average snowfall impact than the resorts listed above. From the Lookout Pass website: “Forest Service and NOAA records confirm that Lookout Pass is blessed with light, dry powder earlier and more often than any region in the state—an average of 400 inches a season! And because our slopes face northeast, all that great snow is protected from wind and weather. Lookout has NEVER closed due to inclement weather!” It has three terrain parks for freestyle snowboarding, including a beginner’s level park and an all-natural park in which all features are made of trees that needed to be cut down. Lookout Pass offers a free ski/snowboard school for kids 6–17 years old on Saturdays from January 12 through March 31. Four chairs serve 34 runs.
Rossland, British Columbia.
Red Mountain Resort is worth the drive to Canada. Three hours from Spokane, Red Mountain Resort is famous for champagne powder (average 300” a year) and incredible gladed tree skiing. New this year, adventurous skiers can take a snowcat ride to the new expansion area, Grey Mountain, for advanced ski experiences on un-groomed slopes and glades. On the other two mountains in the resort’s expansive boundaries, there are six lifts and 88 runs. Five different backcountry peaks are easily accessible from the resort’s boundary.
Just this year, Red Mountain Resort was ranked by POWDER magazine as the number four best resort in North America, by the SBC Resort Guide as the third best terrain in Western Canada, and by Skiing Magazine as the most underrated ski resort. Since it is a bit of a drive, you may want to get a multi-day pass and spend a few days here. The charming, friendly ski-bum town of Rossland is just a few minutes down the highway.
You can save with the Vertical Value Card, available only through December 24. For $55–$79, you get your first, fourth, and seventh days free, plus value pricing on full day tickets for another five visits. Click here for lift ticket prices.