One of the great joys of having children is that they grow up and sometimes travel to wonderful places. Naturally, when they do we, the parents like to go and visit. This winter we were fortunate enough to visit Sandpoint, Idaho for a ski vacation to visit Dave’s daughter Melissa, and her boyfriend Adam.
The kids headed west with plans to spend the winter in Sandpoint working at Schweitzer Mountain. This lovely area is in Bonner County and the mountain overlooks Lake Pend Oreille, the largest lake in Idaho.
We flew into Spokane and rented a car for the approximately 90 mile ride to Sandpoint. We elected to stay at the Schweitzer Mountain Resort, rather than commute the 9 miles up and back down the windy mountain pass each day from Sandpoint.
Did you notice the lights of the groomer coming over the backside in the upper left?
Schweitzer has an interesting history, (Wikipedia link here), but especially the basis for it’s name. I would encourage you to go to the link and read a bit about the mountain’s history.
The resort area includes several facilities and is known as the village. We roomed at the Selkirk Lodge, which was convenient and very comfortable. They provided a ski room for our equipment, included a complimentary breakfast buffet in the Chimney Rock Grill, had a spa, coffee shop, and movie theater. In addition there was a lovely sitting area near the front desk and a parking garage for our rental vehicle. Oh yes, and did I mention the heated swimming pool and three hot tubs?
Coming from a less than ideal ski season at Burke Mountain, we were ecstatic with the ski conditions at Schweitzer. The temps were mild – in the 30s and 40s at the base and high teens to mid-twenties at the summit. Our first two days we were blessed with several inches of fresh powder. The ski area boasts 2900 acres of skiing, 9 lifts, and 92 trails. Melissa and Adam often mentioned that they were continuing to find new terrain on the mountain regularly. When we chatted with a nice local resident he said that he had been snow-boarding on the mountain since he was seven years old and he still finds new places to ride. I will let some of the pictures speak for themselves:
Notice the building at the top of this last photo. That is called the Skyhouse and we enjoyed a nice lunch there during a respite from skiing and riding.
Of course, all of these pictures were taken on the one absolutely spectacular sunny day. We were thrilled to have been gifted with the big sky day as it allowed us to see all parts of the mountain. On one of the days of skiing we experienced quite a bit of fog, which can be disconcerting ~ all that white on white makes one wonder where exactly they are, and if you don’t know the mountain well it can be a bit intimidating. Another day it snowed quite a lot so the visibility was limited, but as the kids say – it just refreshed the powder skiing all day long.
We awoke early one morning and traveled down the access road a bit to get some shots of the sunrise and it was so worth it.
Along the access road there are a number of homes and condominiums, but this was my favorite.
Lake Pend Oreille is amazing. It sits as if in a bowl in the valley, surrounded by mountains. The Selkirk mountains surround the valley on one end.
One of the things I most appreciated about Schweitzer was the diversity of terrain and the expansiveness of the trails. In some of the photos you might have noticed the perfectly groomed corduroy in the foreground. Well, all day long we were able to access that groomed terrain – the corduroy never got fully skied off all day. Often we felt we had the entire mountain to ourselves – there were no lift lines and frequently we saw no other people on the trails.
In addition there were plenty of fresh powder glades to enjoy and even some cliffs to huck yourself off, if that’s your thing.
We are so appreciative of the kids for finding this wonderful area for us to visit and for being such great mountain tour guides throughout the week. In addition, the found some great local restaurants for us to enjoy in Sandpoint.
Thank you Melissa and Adam!