All of Idaho's five Indy Pass destinations are a bit out of the way, but that's a good thing for short lines, long views, and uncrowded trails.
Resorts, where Indy-ites get three free days, range up and down the Gem State. Vertical drop runs from 1,000 to 2,800 feet, and terrain can be compact (500 acres) to expansive (2,300). Here's a look at what the five Idaho mountains in the Indy Pass world have to offer this season.
In the south, Pomerelle embraces a mom-and-pop, family vibe with two fixed-grips, night skiing, and mostly modest terrain. At the head of a remote valley of the Sawtooths, it gets as much snow as any in Idaho, and it's a favorite for Twin Falls and south Idaho day skiers and riders. Lodging in Albion. New is an RFID digital ticketing system.
Next up, Soldier Mountain is open Thursday-Sunday except for holidays. Mountain spreads across 1,100 acres with a 1,400-foot drop and another 2,000 for snowcat backcountry. Half of the runs are green or blue. The blacks are short but precipitous. About two hours from Boise or Twin Falls, it's been called a "mini-Sun Valley." Plus you can rent the whole place Monday-Wednesday for $7,500 a day. Lodging in Fairfield. Also new RFID ticketing.
Overlooking Cascade Lake, rejuvenated Tamarack has tons of vertical drop (2,800 ft.), plenty of novice runs, a potpourri of black-and-blue glades up top, and a revitalized base area. New owners have upgraded mountain, with revamped high-speed Wildwood Express. Snowmaking only on greens, but right on the path of Pacific storms. Plenty of lodging choices at the base. Boise is 2.5 hours away.
Just up the road is Brundage. The big news here is what's coming: More terrain and lifts, upgraded lodges, housing developments -- all aimed to bring Brundage into the "major resort" category. Mountain feels bigger than its 1,460 acres, and it's known as a powder-catcher with a 25-50-25 trail mix, a plethora of ridges, fall lines and faces, and an extensive snowcat touring operation. Mostly blue backside Lakeview area a vista-viewers paradise. Outdoorsy touristy McCall is the nearest town.
Finally, Silver Mountain sits just off I-90 about 30 minutes from Coeur d'Alene, and near Kellogg. A two-peak mountain with 2,200 total vertical drop, Silver's 1,500 acres mostly has what advanced and experts want in glades and short chutes. Greens are served by bottom gondola, which runs oddly from parking lot to base. New stuff includes a winch cat, conveyor cover, and tubing park. Big overnight lodge at the bottom, with options in Kellogg.