Schweitzer Ski Resort is located in Northern Idaho about sixty miles south of the Canadian border. This resort is a scant two-hour drive from Spokane in neighboring Washington State and just under an hour’s drive from Coeur D’Alene. The ski area covers an impressive 2900 acres of skiable territory and while the advertised vertical is 2,400-feet, the actual vertical for most skiers is closer to 2,000-feet because of the mandatory slow zones around the base near the novice skiers area. The skiable terrain splits into two bowls, divided by the ridge peak of the mountain. On the front side is Schweitzer Bowl, but go through the gates, and the backside has the Outback Bowl, home to some of the best glade and chute skiing in the state.
Overall, there are 92 named trails with a difficulty mix that leans toward the more experienced. The actual division of difficulty is 10% novice, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced, and 15% expert trails. The longest run clocks in at just over 2 miles, an intermediate cruiser in the Outback Bowl. This trail, Little Blue Ridge, starts at the upper corner of the bowl and takes a gentle ambling run down the edge of glades and some chutes to rest at the Outback Inn, some 2,157 feet below your starting point.
If you’re a novice skier, you’re going to have plenty to keep you busy on the front side. There is an entire learning section that goes down the mountain from the Village Base Station, where slow speeds are enforced, especially because of the ski school teaching that goes throughout the day. For mogul and terrain hunters, the front side also has you covered with three great terrain parks each with its own set of challenges and terrain.
For advanced and expert skiers, all of Schweitzer is your oyster. The front side has some great glades that will warm you up for taking on some of the tighter terrain at the Outback. There are also a series of chutes along the South Ridge that have to be experienced to be believed. From the double black diamond rated South Bowl Chutes to the steep incline of Bud’s Chute, these will have you giddy as you tear down the slopes. On the backside of the Mountain, the Outback has a mish mash of expert chutes, intermediate cruisers and intermediate and expert glades.
The Outback Bowl has two chair lifts, one a modern six-person high-speed tram, and the other a two-seater tram that leads from the mid-point to the peak. There’s also a surface T-Bar that leads from the North Ridge to the beginning of Little Blue Ridge Run. Schweitzer Bowl on the front side has two high-speed quad chair lifts, one triple and two double lifts, one of which (Sunny Side) passes over the intermediate Chair 4 Glades. All told, the seven chair lifts and two surface lifts can carry 12,502 skiers per hour. Thankfully, Schweitzer still manages to avoid the crowds, so you’ll rarely see that many people on the slopes.