Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Schweitzer is a burgeoning destination ski resort in Idaho. The resort is trying to move towards becoming the next Sun Valley
, but thankfully it’s got a long way to go. Schweitzer is small, peaceful, there are no crowds, it is delightfully unpretentious, and the resort has a nice local feel to it.
Ski Magazine has voted Schweitzer as “the best kept secret in North America”, but this is a major exaggeration and Ski Magazine needs to explore a little further afield! Sure Schweitzer is uncrowded and a hidden gem relative to Vail
, but it’s definitely not deserted and it doesn’t feel like you’re skiing on your own private mountain (unless you go cat skiing with Selkirk Powder Company
!). Despite Schweitzer already being well and truly discovered, the locals think it’s a well kept secret, so we’ll let them keep thinking that!
Schweitzer Mountain was named after a “Swiss man” (Schweitzer in German) who lived in the area as a hermit until he was placed in an asylum for strange behaviour such as eating cats. Despite the peculiar man that is Schweitzer’s namesake, there’s nothing strange about Schweitzer Ski Resort. It’s a very normal ski resort and it has all the bells and whistles you’d expect for an emerging destination resort.
Schweitzer Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Schweitzer Ski Resort is reasonably large with 2,900 acres (1,174 hectares) of lift accessed slopes, and there’s also lots of great side-country terrain and the Selkirk Powder cat skiing
area. The ski resort has 2,400 feet (731 metres) of vertical, although most skiers and snowboarders don’t ride the full vertical of the ski resort because the lower part is a dedicated beginners zone that runs below the Schweitzer village.
The Schweitzer ski terrain
has lots of variety including wide open cruisers, steep corduroy, open bowls, glades, some really impressive tree skiing, and three terrain parks. The trail statistics are 10% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced and 15% expert, and the double blacks aren’t the pretend kind. The steeps are only short but they have rock features and are pitchy enough to provide some “pucker factor”.
The Schweitzer snow quality is somewhat variable, but when it’s happening the steep lines can be epic. Thankfully the fresh tracks last a while due to minimal crowds, and those willing to sit on a lift that’s so slow that there’s a risk of becoming a snow ghost, will be rewarded with plenty of freshies.
Fortunately some of the other lift infrastructure is more modern, which includes an express six-pack and two fast quad chair lifts.
The views from the ski resort across the massive Lake Pend Oreille are rave-worthy, but unfortunately foggy weather is somewhat common at Schweitzer and clear bluebird days are not that frequent.
Where is Schweitzer Mountain?
Schweitzer Ski Resort is located in the Selkirk Mountains in the panhandle of Idaho, only 60 miles south of the Canadian border. Schweitzer Mountain Resort is about 12 miles northwest of the town of Sandpoint, and 58 miles north of Couer D’Alene Idaho.
The Spokane Airport in Washington is only 94 miles southwest of Schweitzer, a drive that takes under 2 hours. Spokane has direct flights from a variety of US cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Salt Lake City. If you’re staying on-mountain at Schweitzer, you could get a shuttle between the airport and the ski resort, but if you plan to stay at one of the Sandpoint hotels
, a rental car
would be advantageous.
The Schweitzer Village is pretty small and primarily consists of just a handful of buildings. Other than a multitude of privately owned condos and vacation homes, Schweitzer lodging consists of the Selkirk Lodge
hotel and the White Pine Lodge
condos. Both have really convenient ski-in ski-out locations in the heart of the village.
The on-mountain accommodation can be a little pricey, so some visitors prefer to stay down in the town of Sandpoint where the hotels are a little more economical. Sandpoint, with a population of about 6000 folks, is a reasonably quiet town on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. However relative to Schweitzer Village, Sandpoint is absolutely happening!
Schweitzer and Sandpoint Lodging Listings
Schweitzer Mountain Facilities
The Schweitzer village is small but it covers all the required facilities and amenities for a ski vacation. In addition to a day lodge, Schweitzer has a few daytime eateries, a couple of pubs and restaurants, and two ski shops offering snowboard and ski rentals.
There are also various activities on offer such as cross-country skiing, tubing, snowmobiling, or there’s a day spa if the body is in need of an overhaul.
Schweitzer Snowcat Skiing
One of the major pros of Schweitzer Mountain is that it has its own cat skiing operation, the Selkirk Powder Company
, which is one of the best cat skiing outfits in the country. This provides the perfect opportunity to get over the back of the resort and ride all those fresh lines without having to hike or tour to get to all the powder. If you can manage a black run competently, then you’re definitely good enough to go cat skiing with Selkirk Powder because there are no super steeps or mandatory cliff jumps. If you’ve never been cat skiing
before, this is the perfect opportunity to give it a try whilst combining it with a ski vacation at Schweitzer.
More Reasons to Ski or Snowboard at Schweitzer Idaho
The Schweitzer Ski Resort is a great choice for families or others looking for a destination ski resort that’s reasonably quiet, relatively inexpensive, and has got terrain for everyone.
Tours at or near Schweitzer