Between the crest of the Cascades and western front of the Northern Rockies, a half-dozen ski and snowboard resorts stay open -- in varying degrees -- during the summer months for all to cool out a bit.
Summer activity menus ranges from the full-on "adventure park" concept to mountain biking and scenic lift rides to mellow hiking and meditating upon Nature.
Up near the Canadian border, Schweitzer Mountain looms above Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint, Idaho. A chairlift ride gets you to mountaintop restaurant Sky House for views, brews and food amidst the Kanitzu National Forest. There's a summit disc golf course, too, and more than 40 miles of MTB trails head down to the resort base -- home to dual ziplines, climbing wall, trampoline and more.
Jump across into Washington and check out 49 Degrees North, one of the northernmost resorts in U.S. It's old-school summer on Chewelah Peak: No lifts, no "attractions" other than a half-dozen MTB and hiking trails along service roads. Mid-summer mean huckleberry picking season all over the resort's three basins.
Still in Washington is Mt. Spokane outside the state's largest city east of the Cascades. The non-profit day hill is open for hiking and biking (no lifts), and Saturdays' Brews and Views at the summit's Vista House.
Back into Idaho, Silver Mountain above Kellogg boasts Idaho's largest indoor water park -- perfect for cooling down in a hot summer. Park has a dozen stations, including flow rider for surfing, lazy downriver tubing, Minor's Island for kids, and a overhead rope course. On the mountain, the nation's longest gondola runs carries lookie-loos, hikers and mountain bikers for fresh air at the summit.
Right at the Montana-Idaho border, Lookout Pass is a short drive from silver boomtowns Wallace and Mullan. Few bike routes compare with the famed Hiawatha Trail, operated by the resort. A premier rail-trail, the 15-mile, all-downhill ride straddles the state line with 10 tunnels, seven train trestles, interpretive stops and drop-dead views of the Bitterroots. At the resort, chairlift runs Friday-Sunday for hiking, mountain biking and soaking in the scenery.
Indy Pass and Ski Cooper season pass -- the nation's largest reciprocal partner passes -- are up for sale, meaning at least 146 U.S. ski and snowboard mountain can be had for short-term skiing and riding all season long.
For skiers and riders with wanderlust, both passes lure road-trippers by clustering its pass with partner mountains within easy driving distance of each other. The more adventurous can head out across state lines to cash in their multi-day pass. An adult Ski Cooper pass is now priced at $329 until September, while the price of an Indy Pass sits at $299 until September.
The Indy Pass and Ski Cooper season pass continue to bolster their partner resorts lists (and more may be added this summer). On the Indy Pass, skiers and riders get two days free at at 87 U.S. resorts (plus one in Spain), while Ski Cooper's 58 partners welcome them for three days. The vast majority don't have blackouts or other limitations.
In West, the Cooper season pass has four new partners: Wyoming's White Pine, Washington's Mt. Spokane, California's Mt. Shasta Ski Park and Utah's Sundance. These additions introduces the Cooper mega-partner pass to state of Washington, and shores up its presence at smaller areas in California and Wyoming. Plus, Sundance joined up for this season as the first Utah mountain on the pass.
The Southeast and Midwest drew Cooper's attention this offseason. The Ski Cooper pass added four mountains in Southeast, and four in the Midwest, as well as outlier Saddleback in Maine. It's valid now in 21 states.
For the Indy Pass, four new affiliates came on board from the Upper Midwest -- Marquette Mountain, Mount Kato, Nub's Knob and Tree Tops -- to solidify Indy's presence in that region to nine resorts in Michigan, and six each in Wisconsin and Minnesota. New member Big Rock in Maine comes on this season. The pass, which is purchased separately from any season pass, now reaches into 28 states.
Indy Pass added a new category, Allied Resorts, that gets passholders half-off discounts -- except for holiday periods and weekends (25% off) -- at six New England hills and Loup Loup in Washington. It also added three X-C partners, all located at Indy alpine partner mountains.
The Indy and Ski Cooper passes both work for some 25 resorts. Other reciprocal season passes of note include Lee Canyon (21 partners), Monarch (21), Loveland (16), Sunlight (16), Bogus Basin (14) and Mount Bohemia (12) -- among others.
The options keep on coming, as single-mountain season passes for next season have more add-ons than ever before to compete with the multi-resort mega-passes.
For Pacific Northwest skiers and riding seeking a different look, feel, and sound -- and fewer crowds -- to their experience, check out night skiing.
The half-dozen ski and snowboard resorts that sit east of the Cascade divide and on the western edge of the Rockies have begun to announce ticket policies for the upcoming season to comply with local and state Covid-related capacity caps in place.
The first snow storms of the 2018-2019 season have coursed across the Pacific Northwest, and a number of resorts are gearing up for November openings.
Just when we thought El Niño has petered out on the mountains of the West, the metrological maiden has come on with force to put down as much as two feet as April begins.Thus, a number of resorts in the West have decided to stay open a bit longer.
Ari Gutman, a physician from Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, has been named the Ski Ambassador of the Year for the Learn to Ski and Snowboard (Month)/Bring a Friend initiative. Dr. Gutman took his two sons, Jonathan (14) and Matthew (13) to Spring Mountain, Pennsylvania for lessons and entered the Bring a Friend Challenge.
Most of us know someone who has never skied or snowboarded but would love the thrill of gliding down a hill on freshly groomed snow. But it’s hard to find the time, get the equipment and be confident that the ski school instruction at a particular resort will get your friend or family member properly introduced to the sport – and eager to return for more.
It’s no secret that last season was difficult for ski and snowboard operations in the Pacific Northwest, given a record low in snowfall and persistent above-freezing temperatures into midseason.