Each ski area in the Spokane area offers pros and cons for skiing and snowboarding; to help you decide the best ski area for your type of skiing I’ve compiled stats on each area and more importantly will give you an insider review of each resort and their terrain. I’ve skied most of the resorts around Spokane and have talked to “locals” with varying skiing and snowboarding skills to share their opinions.
Mt.Spokane Ski Resort – Opening Day December 3, 2011 You have to love a local mountain who has the following banner on their web site, “Viva La Nina! A Big Winter Coming.” Mt. Spokane is the closest ski area for Spokane area residents, which means it costs less to get there, but it often has the lowest snow base (Base Lodge Elevation is 4,200 ft). Some folks think the terrain isn’t the toughest, others think it’s just plain gnarly. But on good snow days, you can head out to Mt. Spokane after work or class for some great night skiing (4 pm to 9:30 pm) for $19 a ticket. If you have a limited budget (most do right now), work or go to school, night skiing at Mt. Spokane is the way to go.
The mountain has 5 double chairs and 45 designated runs, of which 16 offer night skiing. Terrain breaks down to – 23% Easiest, 45% More Difficult and 42% Most Difficult.
As a former park competitor, the Terrain Park is important to me. Previously I felt it was not as good as parks in other resorts; it is a good place for first-timers to experience jumps.
This year Mt. Spokane is advertising changes including jumps and kickers of all sizes to XL big air; and they’ve added additional rails and boxes. Mt. Spokane is so close that it’s a no brainer choice if you don’t have the time or money to go to a more distant resort. http://www.mtspokane.com/
Silver Moutain Resort – Opening Day November 25, 2011 Snow is falling and is forecasted through Tuesday; a winter storm warning is in effect as I write this. Love it! Located just 70 miles east of Spokane, Silver Mountain Resort offers two mountains to ski or snowboard on! It has 73 trails, 7 lifts, 1,600 acres of terrain, 2,200 vertical and 300 inches of snow annually. It has a diverse terrain includes 20% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% advanced and 10% expert.
It has a good old home mountain feel to it with some of the friendliest lifties around. As you can see, they get a fair amount of snow and have some difficult terrain to ski; the diversity of terrain make it a great family mountain for groups with varied abilities. Their terrain park is good but some of the jumps have very little pop to them. If you’re looking for steeps and natural features to jump off of, the mountain has few areas for this. On a powder day, though, this resort is well worth the 1 1/2 hour drive from Spokane.
Silver Saturdays make this one great resort to visit after all others have closed – after all the resorts have closed down in the area Silver Mountain will stay open on Saturdays through the month of May. No night skiing at Silver though.
A cool fact about Silver Mountain is that they have the longest Gondola in the world which takes you from Kellogg, Idaho up to the ski area. http://www.silvermt.com
Red Mountain – Opening Day December 17, 2011 Located in Rossland, BC, just 10 minutes from the Canadian border and 2.5 hours from the Spokane Airport, Red Mountain Resort offers some challenging terrain for advanced skiers. It has long and steep runs that will have your legs begging for a chairlift ride. It has great steeps and rocks to fly off of and a “whole lotta powda”! Average snowfall is about 300 inches!
Their diverse terrain includes 15% beginner, 40% Intermediate and 45% Advanced trails. The vertical is 2920 feet. It’s a lot of mountain and a whole lot of fun. If you like steeps and rocks and powder Red Mountain is good resort for you, while still offering a good amount of easy to intermediate skiing for everyone in your group. I loved it! http://www.redresort.com/
Schweitzer Mountain Resort – Opening Day Anticipated Late November or Early December 11/12/11 “Looks like we got our first, real dump of the season! 6-8 inches of snow fell in the village overnight and hopefully a bunch more up high. With more snow in the forecast throughout the week….” – Schweitzer Snow Report
Schweitzer Mountain Resort located near Sandpoint, ID, is about a two hour drive north of Spokane. It’s where I ski most of the time. It has some of the best and varied terrain within a two hour radios of Spokane. Skiing magazine ranked Schweitzer 21st in all ski resorts in North America. Snowmaking began on November 1st on Midway and Happy Trails and natural snow is falling now! With an average 300 inches of snow annually, Schweitzer offers excellent skiing. It has 7 lifts including one high-speed six-pack (Stella) and a vertical drop of 2,400 feet. The mountain offers great trails for every ability: 10% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 35% Advanced and 15% Expert.
There are two things that I think are fantastic at Schweitzer – the amazing tree skiing and the best terrain park of all local resorts. Riders of all levels will enjoy Schweitzer’s Terrain Park – Stomping Grounds, Starfish, Garden and Rider-X. Stomping Grounds has the largest jump and jib features; this is where I ride on the mountain. Starfish, opened in 2010, is described as having “unintimidating medium features.” The Terrain Garden is the best park area for younger and beginner riders. The features are small and low to the ground – fun stuff for young riders.
So what’s new at Schweitzer? The Mountain Shuttle is now included in season ticket price and Schweitzer Season passholders receive 50% off a Whitewater Ski Resort pass. Whitewater, located in BC’s famous Powder Highway, is Schweitzer’s sister resort. Let the snow fly…see you on the mountain! http://www.schweitzer.com