Idaho is Home to 11 of the Greatest Winter Playgrounds in America
The days are getting shorter. The temperatures are getting colder. Snow is already falling at some of Idaho’s mountain resorts. Winter adventures are right around the corner!
With another change in seasons on the way, the USA Today is on a mission to find the best of the best when it comes to winter fun like snow tubing, skiing, snowboarding and relaxing around the slopes. The newspaper just opened a new set of “10 Best” reader polls to choose the top contenders in these categories.
Since Idaho is home to America’s first destination resort, we just had to sneak a peek at the nominees to see if any of the Gem State’s winter playgrounds had a shot at these prestigious titles. Idaho should be beaming with pride. We put at least one nominee in every single winter category!
Best Snow Tubing Park Nominees
The team at Bogus Basin can’t wait for this season to start. They’ve invested around $5 million in improvements for the upcoming season including paving the base area parking lot, installing RFID readers at lift gates and adding more lighting to expand night skiing. This winter will be even more special for them if their tubing hill takes home this honor! The 800-foot-long tubing run has a conveyor lift that takes you back up to the top. It’s a great value too. During the season a 1.5-hour session costs just $20.
Silver Mountain Resort
Bogus faces some serious competition from Silver Mountain. The tubing hill in Kellogg is a little bit longer at 900 feet. What’s really cool about their tubing hill is that you get to enjoy 20-25 minute long scenic gondola ride up to the tubing hill. Like some of the other hills, they also have a moving carpet to get you back to the top of the tubing run. Unlike those other carpet rides, this one is covered. During the season, tickets start at $24 for adults.
Best Ski Restaurant Nominees
The Roundhouse at Sun Valley Resort
The Roundhouse at Sun Valley has been around almost as long as the resort itself. According to the resort’s website, the restaurant opened three years later in 1939. Your tummy may drag you there for truffle fries or a burger after a long day on the slopes, but you really stay for the views! Sip on a glass of wine while you overlook the slopes. The Roundhouse is perched at an elevation of 7,700 feet and is accessible by taking the Roundhouse Express gondola.
Best Ski Hotel
According to a Facebook post, Schweitzer started working on their new 31-unit boutique hotel in 2019. Not only does the hotel, which opened in February 2022, provide incredible views of the mountains and Lake Pend Oreille, but it also provides ski-in/ski-out access for guests. Inside the rooms, you’ll find thoughtful touches like boot dryers and locally roasted coffee. Guests also have access to The Glass Room, a community living room filled with a fireplace, large screen TV, foosball table and floor-to-ceiling windows. Don’t feel like venturing out for dinner? Humbird has an incredible restaurant called the “Crow’s Bench” which serves cozy meals like Wiener Schnitzel, Beef Bourguignon and Beet Risotto.
Best Cross Country Ski Resort
Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center
Color us not surprised to see Sun Valley on their list. Nordic pass holders have access to over 40 km trails of groomed trails. It also hosted one of the last Olympic qualifying races before the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Best Ski Resort
Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley should be on this list. It was, after all, the first destination ski resort in the United States. The resort was also the birthplace of the first modern chair lift. Today, it offers world-class skiing on 121 runs and a 22-foot superpipe.
It’s so cool to see another Idaho resort on this list of nominees! According to the resort’s website, Brundage was the brainchild of businessman, Warren Brown and Norwegian ski champion, Corey Engen. The two of them reached out to Jack Simplot to help get the project off the ground. It opened on Thanksgiving Day 1961. Today, it offers 69 name trails to McCall skiers and snowboarders.
Best Ski Town Nominees
We all know that Ketchum is on this list for its proximity to Sun Valley resort, but it’s near a bunch of fun off-mountain activities like hot springs, Zenergy Health Club and Spa and Dark Sky Reserve. Plus, they were named one of America’s “7 Best Kept Secret Food Destinations.”
McCall’s on this list because of Brundage, but let’s be honest. Even non-skiers can enjoy McCall in the winter thanks to Winter Carnival, breweries, good food and super fun ice bumper cars at the Machester Ice Center!
Best Ski Bar Nominees
Apple’s Bar & Grill
If there’s a Sun Valley-based hometown hero in the Winter Olympics, you can pretty much count on a viewing party happening at Apple’s. They’ve been a staple in the Wood River Valley since 1988 and the decor really shows off the area’s ski culture and history.
Our hearts are exploding seeing Highlands Hollow on this list. It’s not just a great after-skiing bar for Bogus Basin visitors, it’s also a great place to grab a brew if you’ve been hiking, running or mountain biking on the Harrison Hollow trails. The building itself was one of the three Brass Lamp Pizza & Ale House locations in Boise. According to the Hollow’s website, there is some serious Bronco history in their rafters. The exposed wooden rafters are actually parts of the original Bronco Stadium that was eventually replaced by the concrete Albertsons Stadium that we know today. Fun fact? They're also the oldest microbrewery in the city!