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Idaho State News

Idaho ski areas feeling the stoke as 2023-24 season looms

BOISE, Idaho (Nov. 9, 2023) — Winter 2023-24 promises to deliver another great ski and snowboard season in Idaho, with ski areas throughout the state making plenty of upgrades.


Brundage Mountain Resort, Kelly Canyon Resort, Schweitzer, and Sun Valley Resort installed new chairlifts over the summer, including Ski Idaho’s third six-pack at the latter destination. Plus, Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area shaved significant time off ascending the Eagle Peak Express, which debuted last winter, by reworking the gearing. And Grand Targhee Resort replaced its magic carpet with a covered Sunkid moving carpet.

Two of the eight Idaho ski areas offering night skiing — Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area and the Little Ski Hill — added new lights. Bogus Basin replaced night lighting on two trails and the Little Ski Hill finished lighting its terrain park, ensuring the entire mountain is lit from top to bottom.

Lookout Pass and Lost Trail Ski Area, both of which straddle the Idaho-Montana border, opened up new tree lines for this winter, and Kelly Canyon cleared out upwards of 30,000 square feet of terrain near Chair 4. Bogus Basin conducted extensive brush-cutting efforts on more than 50 acres of popular runs throughout the ski area. Sun Valley created a new black-diamond trail and 54 acres of new gladed tree skiing. And Tamarack Resort cleared 63 acres and added 50 in-bounds acres along its southern boundary.

Grand Targhee created a new, improved beginner area. And Tamarack added a new interactive family friendly zone called Lumberjack Land, as well as a 5.5-acre, sculpted-terrain learning area by the Discovery Lift.

Magic Mountain Resort added Sno-Go trikes to its rental fleet, with 11 Ski Idaho destinations allowing skibobbing, a.k.a. ski biking, and eight offering fat biking.

More Idaho ski areas are getting into the snow-tubing business, with Kelly Canyon unveiling a brand new tube park in Idaho Falls this winter that will also offer free ski and snowboard lessons. Plus, Magic Mountain has expanded its tube park, and Soldier Mountain plans to enhance its tubing hill.

Several Idaho ski areas made significant snowmaking improvements since last winter. Bogus Basin installed four new snowmaking towers on the Morning Star trail. Kelly Canyon invested more than $1 million to ensure the resort opens by Thanksgiving every winter. Rotarun completed its snowmaking system with the purchase of another snow gun.

Soldier Mountain now boasts a fully functional snowmaking system from its base area to the top of Chair 1, allowing the resort to open Chair 2 earlier. And Tamarack boosted its snowmaking capacity by 30 percent with the addition of six new snow guns and increased water capacity.

A half-dozen destinations completed noteworthy upgrades to their lodges and food-and-beverage offerings. Bogus Basin remodeled restrooms at both lodges and installed a new HVAC system at the Pioneer Lodge. Grand Targhee will complete the second half of its slopeside Teewinot Lodge makeover by December.

Kelly Canyon’s lodge sports new carpet, new windows, remodeled restrooms, and improved ventilation. Plus, the resort signed on renowned Blackhawk BBQ Pit to run the restaurant and operate grab-and-go food trailers at the ski resort and its new tube park in Idaho Falls.

Lookout’s new Sprung Structure adjacent to the lodge adds more indoor seating. Pebble Creek Ski Area added a new public, ADA-compatible restroom. Pomerelle Mountain Resort is staging a mobile food cart and restrooms at its ski-in, ski-out upper parking lot. And Silver Mountain Resort added a sundeck to its new Jackass Snack Shack at midway Chair 4.

Meanwhile, construction on Brundage’s new base area lodge and Tamarack’s mid-mountain lodge continues, with both slated to open during winter 2024-25.

Bogus Basin’s weekend and holiday public bus service will resume and add stops in Nampa, and Brundage is working to expand the free shuttle service between McCall and the resort to daily operations during winter.

Visit Southern Idaho, an important Ski Idaho partner, engaged Local Freshies to create a digital backcountry skiing and snowboarding guide for the region that just went live.

And despite the emergence of El Niño, the jury’s still out on how that will impact winter weather here in Idaho, according to OpenSnow. Its Idaho forecaster, Steve Stuebner, recently conducted an analysis of seven strong El Niño winters over the last four decades, with only two of them being genuinely crummy and one being among the Gem State’s biggest snow years.


Near the historic town of Wallace and straddling the Idaho-Montana border and the Mountain and Pacific time zones, Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area finished reworking the gearing of the Eagle Peak Express Lift, shaving off two and a half minutes of ride time.

With a summit elevation of 6,150 feet, Eagle Peak, which debuted last winter, offers 1,650 feet of total vertical — 500 feet more than the original Lookout Pass summit. It is served by the new Chair 5, a 400-hp fixed-grip quad that stretches just under a mile at 5,640 feet and can move at least 1,500 people uphill per hour. Eagle Peak delivers more and drier snow than Lookout’s already snowy reputation thanks to the 500 feet in elevation gain.

Other improvements include a brand-new 50- by 96-foot Sprung Structure adjacent to its historic lodge to provide more indoor seating and comforts. The addition will offer an extra 150 seats, representing a 43 percent increase in seating at the mountain. The resort also purchased a new Prinoth Bison X groomer, added new skis and snowboards to its demo fleet, and installed a White Peaks point-of-sale ticketing system.

Idaho’s northernmost ski resort, Schweitzer, near Sandpoint, will enjoy its first season under new ownership since the Alterra sale was finalized in August. The addition of Schweitzer will bring Alterra to 17 year-round mountain destinations in North America.

The Cambium spa will also have its first full year of operations this season. The 3,600-square-foot retreat features five treatment rooms, a community gathering space, and relaxation and recovery areas with outstanding views of the mountain. Cambium’s treatments are designed to help guests shorten recovery time and get back on the mountain faster and more comfortably with help from reflexology stations, sound loungers, and HaloIR saunas.

Schweitzer is also debuting a high-speed detachable quad lift this winter called the Creekside Express that replaces the Musical Chairs fixed-grip double. The new lift’s detachable design will make it easier for beginner skiers and riders to load and unload. It promises quicker access and an increase in capacity to 2,400 riders per hour. The Creekside Express sets the stage for the upcoming Schweitzer Creek Village, a multiyear project to develop a brand-new arrival zone for day visitors.

Silver Mountain Resort in the historic mining town of Kellogg added a deck to the Jackass Snack Shack for guests to soak up the sun while refueling this winter. The Midway Chair 4 food-and-beverage outlet debuted late in the season last winter. It is located on the site of the original ski lodge back when the mountain was named Jackass Ski Bowl in honor of Bill the $12 Million Burro, who accidentally assisted in founding the Bunker Hill Mine underneath Silver Mountain. The snack shack is open Fridays-Sundays and holidays, stocks snacks and beverages, and has restrooms.

The resort continues to make improvements to its existing infrastructure with new carpet in the Mountain House. It has been maintaining runs with mulching and a D6 dozer to cut brush, which will let the resort open more terrain earlier in the season.

It will be offering big savings this winter with huge discounts for midweek lodging and skiing packages, which are available to book now. Between its Morning Star Lodge at the base of the gondola (North America’s longest) and the nearby Silver Inn, Silver Mountain offers guests 250 rooms with multiple floorplans and options available to accommodate families and groups of any size and on any budget.


The three destinations encircling the Camas Prairie — Bald Mountain Ski Area near Pierce, Cottonwood Butte Ski Area near Cottonwood, and Snowhaven Ski & Tubing Area near Grangeville — have not announced any upgrades for the 2023-24 ski season beyond usual maintenance and upkeep. These mountains, the former two nonprofits and the latter municipally owned, serve as living proof that volunteerism lives on, offering throwback experiences where it’s all about snow riding, family, and happy vibes with adult lift tickets costing only $20-25.


Renowned for its glade skiing, Lost Trail Ski Area on the Idaho-Montana border between Salmon and Missoula is stoked for new tree lines on Chair 2 in the Moose Creek area and between the runs Southern Comfort and Far Out. Lost Trail is also bringing back Epic Mondays — adding six more days of skiing this season by opening every Monday in January and February.

Three miles west of Hailey, Rotarun Ski Area has completed its snowmaking project by adding another SMI PoleCat tower snow gun. The nonprofit ski area also added a Prinoth Bison snow cat to its fleet.

As the 2023-24 season gets underway, Rotarun continues to focus on its support of youth and families through affordable and inclusive learn-to-ski programming. It also celebrates winter sports and mountain-town culture with free public skiing under the lights on Wednesday evenings, “Friday Night Lights” skiing with local Mexican cuisine in the base area, an annual New Year’s Eve Party, and special community classes and events throughout the season.

World-famous Sun Valley Resort has given some of its most renowned terrain serious upgrades that debut this winter.

Its Warm Springs Enhancement Project replaces the old Warm Springs Lift with two successors, Challenger and Flying Squirrel, and adds 54 acres of new gladed tree skiing in Little Scorpion. The effort will not only boost lift quality, efficiency, and sustainability, but it will also improve circulation on the mountain and provide multiple options for accessing the mountain from the Warm Springs area.

The initiative also adds a new run — Lower Flying Squirrel. Boasting a black-diamond rating, a steep pitch with a 38-percent slope (21.8 degrees), 1,500 feet of vertical, and 14 snowmaking towers, POWDER Magazine’s Ian Greenwood opines, “Sun Valley’s new trail looks like an instant-classic.”

The original Flying Squirrel Lift was lost to fire in 2014, and its replacement this year brings back lift access to the Frenchman’s terrain network from the Warm Springs base. Challenger replaces its namesake, too, but the new lift is a six-pack — Idaho’s second after Schweitzer’s Stella Lift, and Ski Idaho’s third after Targhee’s Colter Lift. It features a convenient mid-lift unload, which replaces the old Greyhawk Lift and streamlines access to the Greyhawk terrain and popular race venues.

The birthplace of the chairlift and American’s first destination resort, Sun Valley was designated North America’s no. 1 ski resort by SKI Magazine’s reader’s poll three years in a row for the 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23 seasons.

More details regarding development progress and updates are available at


Visitors to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area near Boise, Idaho’s capital city, will enjoy slope enhancements, fleet and technology upgrades, lodge renovations, and improved night skiing this winter.

As part of the ongoing forest restoration project in partnership with the Idaho Department of Lands’ and the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Health Initiative, Bogus Basin improved several runs. The project removed overgrown vegetation and underbrush to ensure a clear surface for winter. One of the nation’s largest nonprofit ski areas, Bogus Basin also added four new snowmaking towers on the Morning Star trail.

It added a new PistenBully 600 winch cat to its fleet, too, which will allow for better grooming on steep terrain. It is equipped with a SNOWsat measuring system to determine exact snow depth, yielding for more efficient snow management and grooming.

The mountain also renovated its lodges and other buildings. It completely remodeled the rental shop to offer a fresh, updated feel and purchased new equipment to provide guests more options. Plus, Bogus Basin remodeled Pioneer Lodge’s first-floor restrooms and installed a new HVAC system, and it remodeled the Simplot Lodge’s men’s restrooms.

Bogus Basin replaced night lighting on Alpine and Showcase to improve visibility on both runs. It offers a total of 200 lit acres — the largest night operations in the state — with night-riding terrain for beginners to experts.

The ski area will also resume its public transportation service and add a new stop in Nampa to the route. Bogus Basin will continue to subsidize the cost, bringing a one-way or round-trip ticket down to $10, including tax.

Brundage Mountain Resort between McCall and New Meadows installed a new high-speed quad chairlift, conducted trail maintenance, deployed a new point-of-sale system, and improved transportation options.

The new Centennial Express high-speed detachable quad takes a 16-minute lift ride down to a swift 6 minutes. With the new lift, Brundage offers riders two high-speed quads on the front side of the mountain, minimizing any potential congestion over the resort’s 1,920 acres.

It is also expanding its free shuttle service between McCall and the resort. Brundage and its partner, Mountain Community Transit, plan to offer a seven-days-a-week schedule instead of operating five days a week during peak periods and three days a week during off-peak times.

The resort also purchased a new RFID point-of-sale system to streamline ticketing and provide a more efficient way to make reservations for the resort’s signature guided snowcat adventures, showing real-time availability to its 18,000 acres of pristine backcountry terrain. Plus, the mountain’s trail-maintenance efforts included removing hazardous trees around the Centennial Lift on top of annual brush cutting to facilitate an earlier opening.

Just outside McCall, the Little Ski Hill finished lighting its terrain park over the summer, meaning the entire ski area, including its terrain park, is now lit top to bottom.

Tamarack Resort near Donnelly is getting a boost this winter with a new interactive family friendly zone located off Waltz called Lumberjack Land. The resort also added 5.5 acres of sculpted terrain to its learning area near the Discovery Lift and expanded its beginner terrain park.

The Buttercup chair will operate on weekends and holidays to offer more ski-in, ski-out access.

Snowmaking improvements include the addition of six new TechnoAlpin TT10 snow guns and one mile of new snowmaking pipeline, increasing the resort’s snowmaking capabilities by 30 percent and covering 150 acres of named runs. Modernized and improved snowmaking capabilities across the mountain will support a longer and more consistent ski season.

Riders can now skip the ticket line and go straight to the lift with the new automated ticket kiosk in the Village Plaza. More pass products are available, too, including Tamarack’s multi-day consecutive-day tickets.

Upgrades also include a brand-new Nordic Center located in The Lodge at Osprey Meadows that offers rentals, retail, and lessons. Tamarack’s 20K+ trail system is family friendly and perfect for cross-country skiing, skate skiing, snowshoeing, and fat biking.

Visitors traveling with recreational vehicles will be interested to learn Tamarack recently began offering paid overnight RV camping in the lower Aspen Parking Lot.


Magic Mountain Ski Resort near Kimberly is expanding its tubing area this winter, adding more lanes and tubes for guests. The lodge, mountain, and tubing area are now available to rent privately by businesses and other groups. Weekday group tubing is also available on a reservation basis.

The resort has also added new Sno-Go trikes to its rental and retail shop, allowing more folks to experience the thrill of sliding on snow.

Magic Mountain added a third snowcat to its grooming fleet and initiated aggressive brush-cutting efforts to allow the resort to open terrain in most areas earlier in the season.

Pomerelle Mountain Resort near Albion will expand its services in the upper lot to encourage visitors to park there since parking can be a bottleneck when the resort is busy. It will operate a new mobile food cart in the upper lot and provide bathroom facilities that, coupled with the convenience of ski-in, ski-out access, will hopefully compel more visitors to park there.

Over the last two summers staff at Soldier Mountain near Fairfield has restored its snowmaking system, which was first installed in 1976 but laid dormant for decades and was damaged by the Phillips Fire that swept through the area in August 2020. This year the mountain will have a fully functioning snowmaking system from the base to the top of Chair 1 for the first time since the late 1970s, allowing Soldier Mountain to start spinning Chair 2 earlier, too.

Soldier Mountain also expanded its brush cutting, adding two more trails to the existing list of trails it mows to open more terrain earlier in the season and let it stay open longer. In addition, the resort replaced one of its three snowcats with a top-of-the-line Piston Bully PB600.

The resort also plans to redesign its tubing park this winter to make it more enjoyable and user friendly.

Soldier Mountain is already booking seats on the snowcat for its renowned backcountry experiences, and staff are gearing up for a busy season. They are also taking reservations for the resort’s “My Mountain” package. For $6,000 this package allows you to privately book the mountain during nonoperational days (Mondays-Wednesdays) for corporate retreats or personal events.


Grand Targhee Resort — which lies four miles across the border in “Wydaho” and affiliates with Ski Idaho because the only way to reach it is through Driggs, Idaho — anticipates its longest season ever. A great spring-skiing candidate with a base elevation of 7,400 feet above sea level, The Ghee holds the snow well late into the season and plans to remain open until April 21, adding an extra week of ride time.

The Colter Lift, a high-speed six-pack that debuted last winter, transports up to 2,000 people per hour and gains 1,815 vertical feet in 5 minutes. The addition of Peaked Mountain, formerly only accessible via snowcat, provides 30 percent more skiing and riding. The extra 600 acres gives guests the ability to spread out on the mountain even more and access varying types of terrain, including awesome tree skiing and steep pitches.

Over the summer the resort created a brand-new beginner area by the Shoshone Lift that is wider and regraded to create a safe and easy place to learn. It also replaced the Papoose magic carpet with a covered Sunkid moving carpet and renamed it Huckleberry, allowing riders to catch a break from the outside elements while learning.

This winter the resort will unveil its brand new characters in its kid’s zone by the Shoshone Lift that it has dubbed Targaritaville. The characters are full of Targhee personality and will bring more fun and adventure to the area.

Grand Targhee will complete the remainder of the Teewinot Lodge remodel by December, so the entire lodge — just steps from the lift — will boast updated rooms and amenities. The lodge used to only offer queen beds, but the resort now offers king rooms, too.

Kelly Canyon Resort near Ririe has been busy since last winter making numerous improvements to virtually every aspect of the mountain.

It replaced every mechanical element on Chair 4, and like its predecessor, the new Gunpowder Lift is a fixed-grip double. Plus, it removed more brush and trees in that area, clearing another 20,000-30,000 square feet of skiable terrain.

The resort also installed a new bull wheel and new seats on Chair 3, the Lost Treasure Lift on Beginner’s Mountain.

In addition, Kelly Canyon installed a rope tow at the top of Chair 2, the Gold Rush Lift, that will pull riders all the way to Chair 4 or let them jump off anywhere in between. The new summit surface lift will improve flow on the mountain and ease access to terrain that was previously only accessible via bootpacking.

The owners also invested more than $1 million over the summer to significantly expand its snowmaking efforts to ensure it consistently opens between mid-November and Thanksgiving every year moving forward. The resort dug a new well, installed a network of underground pipes, built a million-gallon retention pound, and placed new snow guns practically everywhere on the mountain.

Kelly Canyon is also getting into the snow-tubing business. It is partnering with Gateway Parks — which also operates tube parks in Eagle, Idaho, and Spanish Fork, Utah — on a huge snow tube park in Idaho Falls that will debut this Thanksgiving. Dubbed Gateway to Kelly Canyon, the park will be a great place to get kids on skis and snowboards, offering a free rope tow on the south side of the hill for free snowboard and ski lessons. The park will operate seven days a week through Easter with seven 1.5-hour tubing sessions daily.

Back at the ski resort, Kelly Canyon completed upgrades to the lodge following damage from an ice dam during its record snow year last winter. The lodge sports new carpet and windows, fully renovated bathrooms, and an improved HVAC system. Plus, the resort signed a long-term agreement with Blackhawk BBQ Pit, a popular fleet of food trucks in the region, to run the lodge’s restaurant and serve up its authentic “low- and-slow-cooked” brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausages, and other specialties.

The vendor will also operate a grab-and-go food trailer by Chair 2, as well as a food truck at the snow-tube park with hot drinks, waffles, pretzels, candy, and other easy-to-grab snacks.

Last but not least, Kelly Canyon rebuilt its lower parking lot over the summer and will employ full-time parking attendants all winter to ease transportation matters.

Pebble Creek Ski Area near Inkom will stage a torchlight parade and other gatherings throughout the season to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

The resort spent the summer focused on maintenance and upkeep to prepare its trails for the winter. It also installed a new ADA-compatible restroom with easy access from the parking lot and beginner’s hill.

Plus, Pebble Creek added new gear to its rental fleet and purchased a Prinoth snowcat to improve its grooming capabilities.


In addition to Pebble Creek observing its 75th birthday, Lost Trail is entering its 85th ski season and Bald Mountain near Pierce will turn 65 this winter. Plus, Pomerelle and Schweitzer are celebrating their 60th anniversaries and Grand Targhee will turn 55.


Sun Valley and Schweitzer are partners with the Ikon Pass. Idaho has seven Indy Pass partners, including Brundage, Kelly Canyon, Lost Trail, Pomerelle, Silver Mountain, Soldier Mountain, and Tamarack. Grand Targhee and Sun Valley are members of the Mountain Collective. Bogus Basin, Lost Trail, and Silver Mountain are part of the Powder Alliance. And Sun Valley offers a Sun & Snow Pass with its sister resort, Snowbasin in Huntsville, Utah, that allows up to three days at each destination.


Despite an appearance by El Niño, there is still hope for a wet and snow-filled winter. Steve Stuebner, a freelance journalist and author focused on the outdoors who serves as OpenSnow’s Idaho forecaster, remains optimistic about the upcoming ski season.

Comparing seven prior strong El Niño winters over the last four decades, Stuebner said this weather event where unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific affect weather around the globe is not always universally bad in Idaho. The first strong El Niño winter, in 1982-83, was one of the biggest snow years ever in Idaho, with Bogus Basin getting a record 493 inches. Two other El Niño winters, 1997-98 and 2009-10, were about average in terms of snowfall, and 2002-03 was just a little below average.

He said only two El Niños in the last 41 years — 1986-87 and 1991-92 — led to somewhat crummy winters, and pretty much everywhere in Idaho was short on snow those years.

Furthermore, Stuebner said the state is entering winter with a very moist soil base from rain in August, September, and October, and when the ground freezes it should allow the snow to rest on top of the ground better. He said Idaho’s wet fall should also benefit runoff next spring, with the wet soil profile preventing snowmelt from sinking into the ground as much as it would if the soils were dry.


Visit Southern Idaho just posted a digital backcountry skiing and snowboarding guide for the region curated by Alex Silgalis and Jaime Pirozzi from Local Freshies. Local Freshies is a website that provides the local scoop on where to eat, drink, and play in mountain towns throughout North America.

The new guide provides advice, photos, maps, and other important details for exploring backcountry and sidecountry at three ski areas — Magic Mountain, Pomerelle, Soldier Mountain — and other Southern Idaho destinations. Check it out at:


Idaho ski areas, communities, and restaurants were recently nominated in all nine categories of USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice 2023 awards:

Best apres-ski bar — Apple’s Bar & Grill in Ketchum and The Trap Bar & Grill at Grand Targhee Resort

Best cross-country ski resort — Bogus Basin

Best place for snow tubing — Bogus Basin and Silver Mountain

Best place for snowboarding — Bald Mountain near Pierce, Idaho

Best ski hotel — Best Western Plus Kentwood Lodge in Ketchum, Knob Hill Inn in Ketchum, Morning Star Lodge at Silver Mountain, and Sun Valley Lodge

Best ski resort — Grand Targhee and Sun Valley

Best ski restaurant — The Reserve at Tamarack and The Roundhouse at Sun Valley

Best ski school — Ski + Ride School at Brundage and the Sun Valley Snowsports School

Best ski town — Ketchum

You can vote once per day in each category between now and noon EST Nov. 20. Winners will be announced Dec. 1. Visit to vote for your favorites.


Founded in 1982, the Idaho Ski Areas Association, a.k.a. Ski Idaho, is a nonprofit association funded in part by the Idaho Travel Council via the state’s 2 percent lodging tax paid by travelers and collected by hotel, motel, private campground, and vacation rentals owners. Boasting 29,000 feet of vertical spanning more than 22,000 acres, Idaho is home to America’s first destination ski resort, the birthplace of the chairlift, and often considered the soul of skiing. Its 19 family friendly alpine ski areas offer trails and backcountry for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and skill levels, breathtaking views, hundreds of inches of fresh powder, affordable passes, and short lift lines. Many Ski Idaho destinations open for the summer season, as well, to provide lift-served mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, hiking and trail running, disc golf, horseback riding, and more. Visit for more details.


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