Y Travel Blog worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.
We’re what you’d call a summer-loving, beach family.
For the past 23 years, we’ve adventured to over 50 countries, the past 13 have been with our two daughters.
We can tell you stories of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the thickest jungles, close encounters with wildlife, and the most exciting cities. But until now we couldn’t tell you anything about skiing.
So, to experience the extraordinary, we packed our bags with thermal gear to create a new story on the slopes of northern Idaho. We took baby steps, leaned on expert ski instructors to help us, and found ourselves grinning broadly and laughing loudly through the ups and the downs.
As we seek the less traveled path, Idaho was the perfect state for us to learn to ski as a family.
If you are a nervous first-time skier, you don’t want to be battling runs against expert skiers in crowded places – that’s like dropping in on a local surfer’s perfect wave on North Shore, Oahu.
The northern Idaho ski resorts of Schweitzer, Lookout Pass, and Silver Mountain give you space and serenity to learn, fail, and connect with the things that matter most: family, outdoor beauty, and adventure.
How did we make this Idaho skiing experience one of our best adventures yet, despite our fear and insecurity?
We prepared ourselves for the things that worried us most and remained open to finding the joy in all things – the cold, the falls, and the blissful perfect runs. Having the right clothes to keep you warm and dry while you are out on the slopes will help to define a “best ski trip ever” experience.
You can rent the ski gear you need at each of the resorts: helmet, ski boots, skis, and poles.
We visited in March and were DELIGHTED with the warmer, sunny days – Utopia for beginning skiers with a fear of winter. We lost a layer each day as temperatures climbed to 50 degrees Fahrenheit by day five.
We didn’t even mind on our last run at Lookout Pass when it snowed – that’s all part of the magic after all, and our ski gear kept us warm enough to enjoy it.
Visiting Three Different Ski Resorts
Visiting three ski resorts in one week enhanced our ski experience. Every couple of days we had new runs and views to enjoy. It helped us become better skiers and we never experienced boredom.
Schweitzer gave us a unique ski-in experience in a quaint alpine village nestled amongst the slopes. It’s the largest ski resort in Idaho and had the most dramatic views.
Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area racks up the most powder in Idaho. It’s a skiing experience close to the historic town of Wallace where we stayed for easy access.
Silver Mountain Resort introduced us to the fun of snow tubing, beautiful green runs, North America’s longest gondola ride, and an indoor waterpark.
Take Ski Lessons
The best investment for a beginning skier is ski lessons. I love how our first ski trip was focused on learning to ski. This meant daily lessons up to three hours long.
It was essential for building confidence and helping perfect each skill before moving onto more challenging runs. The private lessons allowed our instructor to take us off the bunny hill and down various green runs, teaching us how to navigate various terrain.
Our instructors were attentive, supportive, and specific. They all had 50+ years of experience in skiing, not just skiing for fun, but for professions, like ski rescue and national forest patrol. They impressed me with their skills and confidence. There’s something to be said for skiing keeping you fit and vibrantly healthy.
We experienced both a private family lesson and a private lesson separate from the kids and would highly recommend the private family lesson. It was a wonderful bonding opportunity to learn together and encourage each other. We loved learning with our daughters and watching how quickly they picked it up and improved.
The private lesson without the kids felt like we could concentrate better on our technique without getting distracted worrying about what the kids were doing. Our girls enjoyed the time out and the chance to be independent.
Going Beyond the Slopes
As our instructor, Mary Joe said, “Most people ski for an hour or two and then either head home or go drink their après.”
Skiing can be intense, especially when you are first learning. After a few hours, it’s great to unlock the boots, and enjoy the winter experience in the surrounding villages.
We loved riding the chair lift (sans skis) to lunch at the Sky House at the summit of Schweitzer for mugs of hot chocolate for the kids and Duck Fart Coffees for us. It’s paired with one of the most beautiful views in Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille – savor it!
One of those non-ski activities we highly recommend is snow tubing. It was still thrilling, but without the intensity of the ski thrill.
We could just kick back as a family and have fun racing each other down the snow tube runs at Silver Mountain. There are five lanes to try and your pass will allow you to play for two fun-filled hours. Plus the views were spectacular.
Enjoy the Après Scene
When we announced our ski trip to Idaho, friends quickly messaged, “Enjoy the après”
Google: What does après mean?
Après-ski is a French term that translates literally to “after ski” or “after skiing.” Basically, it’s “the social activities and entertainment following a day’s skiing.”
“Aha – that sounds totally like our flip flop norm. I’m happy to exchange it for snow boots and a snowcapped mountain view.”
One of my favorite moments was enjoying a delicious Pacific Northwest cider (no one quite makes them the same) at the Taps Bar at Schweitzer under the afternoon rays of a warm sun, and watching the slopes close with the last of the black run skiers until the sky turned a soft pink with the setting sun.
Upon returning home from our Idaho ski trip, our daughters regaled tale after tale to their aunty on the phone. That’s how you know a travel experience was life-changing and memorable. When you return with a suitcase of stories that make you laugh and inspire you to share with others. And, when you know that the adventure has changed you.
Skiing in Idaho helped me find joy in winter. Not just appreciate it, but mark off two weeks in my calendar each year for “Family Ski Trip.”
We spoke often during our five-day ski trip about how many new doors to travel falling in love with skiing has opened to us.
Yes. It’s possible that a family from Down Under can become Winter Seekers. With Idaho, all things are possible.
Feature image credited to Y Travel Blog.
Caroline and Craig Makepeace are the founders of the family travel blog, Y Travel Blog. They love helping people unplug from the chaos, follow their bliss, travel more and create better memories and have a free travel planning toolkit to help you.
Published on January 4, 2022