“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”John Steinbeck
The events of 2020 forced unexpected changes into our lives. Many of these adjustments were uncomfortable, inconvenient, and scary, but some were, for lack of a better descriptor, kinda cool. For example–I have a sourdough starter, I garden, I wear leopard-print fur slippers to my WFH job. (Actually, I love them so much that I’ve worn them to the grocery store twice. No one blinked an eye.) And I spend a lot more time outside. In this endeavor, I am not alone. The recreation industry reported that outdoor pursuits increased drastically over the summer of 2020 as Americans moved their gatherings to the open air. This surge suggests that the trend will continue, even as the temperature drops. While Idaho’s Salmon Valley offers no shortage of outdoor space, one of my favorite spots for winter recreating is on the slopes of Lost Trail Ski Area.
Located 45 miles north of Salmon, Idaho, Lost Trail Ski Area straddles the Idaho-Montana state line. This hidden gem is one of a handful of ski areas that provides skiers and riders with runs that cross state lines. Family-owned, the ski area stands out in the industry as a throwback to the early days of snowsports, maintaining the rugged spirit of ski culture. Although there have been many updates since its opening in 1938, a laid back atmosphere thrives at Lost Trail, and the skiing remains front and center. Visitors won’t find the glitz and glamour of the larger resorts, but they will be greeted by 60+ marked trails and 1,800 vertical feet. Top it all off with over 300” of annual snowfall, and Lost Trail becomes as attractive to snow enthusiasts as any of the more well-known resorts.
Lost Trail Ski Area is open from Thursday-Sunday, all but guaranteeing weekly powder days on what locals call “Powder Thursdays.” Even when the weather report doesn’t cooperate, powder stashes can be found hidden throughout the 1,800 skiable acres. Holiday operation begins Monday, December 21, and the lifts will be spinning daily until January 3
Skiers and riders of all abilities will find a run among the Lost Trails offerings. The trails are divided into 20% beginner, 60% intermediate, and 20% expert, along with two terrain parks. This balance makes it the perfect destination for groups of mixed abilities.
Whether your ideal ride is carving relaxed turns down a cruisy groomer or getting your blood pumping on a sporty tree line, it is not unusual to have an entire run to yourself at Lost Trail. Although the mountain capacity is up to 6,500 people per hour, most days see around 500 lift tickets sold. A busy day tops 1,000 tickets. This low usage guarantees shorter lift lines and more time on the snow.
Smaller crowds also means ample space for social distancing and other public safety precautions that will be in effect until further notice. Lost Trail has a plan in place that follows local, state, and CDC guidelines. Face coverings will be required in all buildings, lift lines, and lessons. Grab n’ go dining options will be offered at the lodge and Yurt. A big change will be the inability to store personal items, gear, and food in the lodge. Guests are encouraged to use their vehicles as a “personal lodge.” All guidelines are subject to change and you are encouraged to check the website for current information.
No doubt about it, the 2020-2021 ski season will look different than winters past, but time in the mountains offers a chance to build resilience. Whether it be at a “personal lodge” parking lot party with friends, a family ski day, or a moment of solo reflection while gazing down at the snow-covered valley, Lost Trail Ski Area provides an opportunity to make memories this winter.
For more information about where to stay and other things to do while you are here go to www.visitsalmonvalley.com