We consider ourselves lucky to live in the PNW, and wintertime is no exception. The frozen windshields and sidewalk wipeouts are a small price to pay for the endless winter adventure opportunities the northwest holds.
For those who reside in less wintery states, planning a trip north can be more intimidating than an angry rattlesnake. Before you pack all the layers you own and worry about road conditions, you have to decide where to go. There are countless winter adventure options in the Upper Left, but we narrowed down our three favorite things to do in the northwest snow to ease your winter vacation planning woes.
There are ski hills peppered throughout the mountains of the northwest, and it can take hours of research to find the right fit for your vacation. Pack your handwarmers and a hot lunch and head to one of our favorite mountains:
Little Ski Hill - McCall, Idaho
Looking for high speed lifts and skiable terrain as far as the eye can see? If so, you may want to skip ahead to our next suggestion. But, if you’re looking to avoid the crowds of big resorts and see where skiing legends are born, head over McCall, Idaho and visit our friends at Little Ski Hill. Featuring a T-bar, terrain park, and night skiing, Little Ski Hill has been teaching kids to ski for 80 years - they are also probably the nicest people you will ever meet. Little Ski Hill is perfect for the whole family and easy on the wallet, so you won’t spend your whole vacation eating ramen to make up for lift ticket prices.
Schweitzer Mountain - Sandpoint, Idaho
If you want the thrills of a big resort experience, check out local favorite Schweitzer mountain. This beast of a hill is the largest ski resort in Idaho and Washington, boasting 2900 acres of lift-service terrain, three terrain parks, and some of the best tree skiing in America. The Schweitzer village includes lodging, shopping, dining, and more: treat yo self.
Whitewater - Nelson, British Columbia
Perhaps you're looking to put some miles on your passport? Look no further than our friends to the north. Located on BC's Powder Highway, Whitewater Ski Resort is considered one of the best powder resorts in the world. Whitewater's annual 40 feet of snowfall and adjacent lift-accessed backcountry terrain makes it a perfect choice for a Canadian ski vacation. When you're not taking pow shots to the face, check out the nearby town of Nelson, a quirky mountain town with a burgeoning arts scene and more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. Sleep off the craft beer and poutine at the historic Hume Hotel and Spa before heading back up to the mountain.
Snowmobiling - Revelstoke, BC
Would you rather hit the throttle instead of the resort? Revelstoke, BC could easily be renamed Braap City because the town and the terrain is so snowmobile friendly. Local favorites include Boulder Mountain with awesome terrain for all skill levels and Turtle Mountain for more advanced snowmosapians. Check out Revelstoke Snowmobile Club for maps, grooming reports, and more riding areas as well as Glacier House for lodging and guiding (you can snowmobile right out the door from there!). Know before you go: make sure you and everyone in your crew has all the proper avalanche and safety training and gear, or hire a guide.
Backcountry Hut Trip
Do resort crowds and indoor plumbing give you anxiety? If your sweet spot includes wood stoves, wildlife, and whiskey, then head to Montana. The US Forest Service rents rustic cabins for the getaway you’re looking for - just add four wheel drive, your favorite camp cooking gear and coffee press, and a warm sleeping bag. A cabin in the mountains with easy access to backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, nordic skiing, and snowball fighting - what more could you want?
If you’re planning an escape north for winter break, reserve your spot before everyone and their dog beats you to it. No matter what activity you choose, you’ll fall in love with the magic of Pacific Northwest winters. We’ll see you in the mountains, after we shovel the driveway.