7 Best Idaho Ski Resorts for Families
Planning your next winter vacation? Struggling to pick a resort where you know everyone will be looked after and have fun, regardless of their age or ski ability? Well, we’ve got you covered with our list of the best Idaho ski resorts for families.
While Idaho resorts are not some of the largest, they more than makeup for it with their friendly welcome, uncrowded slopes, and the sheer amount of snow they receive each season. The phrase ‘best-kept secret in North America’ just keeps on cropping up during Idaho reviews. Soldier Mountain and Brundage Mountain both occupy remote locations but with easily accessible lodging.
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If you’re looking for value for money for your family ski trip, Idaho has a lot going for it. Which resort is right for your family?
Our Top Picks
7. Brundage Mountain
Brundage Mountain resort is set in the Payette National Forest in a remote location in west-central Idaho. The nearest town of McCall has a good range of hotels, and condos to rent as well as B&Bs. Some of the accommodation edges the shores of Payette Lake. A free shuttle bus operates between McCall and Brundage Mountain.
The resort covers 1920 acres and includes 70 named trails, 21% of which are classed as easy, and two terrain parks, Bear Park, and Jammer Park. There are additionally three popular scenic trails including, Temptation, Dropline, and Kickback, which all boast superb snow. Brundage Mountain regularly receives an annual snowfall of 300+ in (25 ft).
Fun for Kids
For older kids, of 7+ years private lessons last for a quarter, half, and full day. For those looking for something more intensive, the 4 Days of Private Lessons deal is the way to forge ahead. It includes 4 Days of Ski or Board Rentals, 4 Days of Intermediate Lift Tickets, and a Season Pass on completion.
Brundage Mountain has a reputation for a low-key and family-friendly vibe. Ski lessons are hosted by instructors who are certified to the highest national standards. For private tuition, Tiny Tracks lessons for ages 3 to 6 are flexible, enabling parents to be involved if they want and they last for 30, 60, or 90 minutes.
Off the Slopes
There are three different ski areas on the resort, Frontside, Lakeview, and Hidden Valley, the last of which has mostly more difficult black trails. Beartopia Zone is a dedicated kid’s park, which has plenty of animal-themed, easy runs and is located just behind the main lodge.
What We Love About Brundage Mountain:
- The combination of heavy snowfall, forest, and nearby lakeside make wonderful views
- Reasonable prices for mountain amenities and lodging
- Skiers and snowboarders love the variety of terrain
- Friendly staff
Brundage Mountain Stats
|7803 ft / 2378.35 metres
6. Lookout Pass
Spanning the Idaho and Montana state boundary Lookout Pass ski resort is ideally placed to receive regular high falls of powder, often receiving more than a staggering 400 in or 33 ft (10 m) in a season. The resort is about 80 miles east of the international communications hub of Spokane or the same distance from Missoula.
The terrain currently covers 540 acres but is in the process of being upgraded to 1023 acres with the Eagle expansion program, which will offer 38 trails over an extended height.
The mountainside terrain is split into three areas, the Idaho side, the Montana side, and the North side, all of which have their own identity. The resort is ideal for skiers and snowboarders who are just starting out with 20% designated as beginner runs and a further 50% classed as intermediate.
Fun for Kids
For lessons, 4-6-year-olds can take advantage of the Mini Moose program, which runs for a half-day and includes a lift ticket and rentals if needed. Children’s lessons for 7-12-year-olds last for two hours and are suited to all abilities. For kids that have never skied, there is a $167 three-day course split into 7-12-year-olds and 13 and older.
Off the Slopes
The nearby towns of Wallace and Kellogg west of Lookout Pass host several mid-priced hotels, along with several condo rentals which can be found on the resort website.
What We Love About Lookout Pass:
- The resort has a reliable snowfall
- The ski and snowboard lessons have great deals for complete beginners
- The resort is in the process of expansion
Lookout Pass Stats
|6250 ft / 1905 metres
5. Soldier Mountain
Owned for a time by actor, Bruce Willis, Soldier Mountain remains a family-friendly ski destination. The resort is in the remote Soldier Mountains of Sawtooth National Forest in south-central Idaho.
Fun for Kids
Ski and snowboard lessons are provided by PSIA and AASI certified instructors and are aimed at complete beginners or more advanced students. Individual lessons can be booked or more competitively priced group lessons, where the group contains between 3 to 7 skiers.
It may only have two ski lifts but offers a variety of greens, blues, and blacks spanning down from Soldier Peak at 7177 ft (2187 m). Lower down near the Lodge you can find the terrain park and the gentle beginners’ area with its own magic carpet
For the more adventurous, bookable snowcat expeditions will take you beyond Soldier Peak right up to Smokey Dome at 10,095 ft (3076 m), where, as an expert, you can ride down on the untouched powder.
Off the Slopes
Local lodging in a couple of inns is unpretentious and reasonably priced, while a selection of self-catering rentals offers more independence.
A more intensive Soldier Mountain Boot Camp extends over three days and is designed to boost skiers’ and snowboarders’ confidence and improve their technique and general safety awareness on the mountain.
Why We Love Soldier Mountain:
- It’s a family-friendly well priced resort
- There are plenty of easy runs for beginners
- The resort is in a remote location
- Cat Skiing can be booked for the powder on the highest mountains
Soldier Mountain Stats
|7200 ft / 2194.56 metres
4. Tamarack Resort
Opening for its first season in 2004, Tamarack Resort has come on in leaps and bounds with continual updates to the resort lodging and on-mountain facilities. Situated 90 miles north of Boise Tamarack covers 3500 acres in Idaho’s Peyer River Mountains region and is adjacent to Lake Cascade.
The 2800-feet vertical fall is accessed by six lifts and offers 50 trails for skiers and snowboarders on the mountain, as well as cross-country and snowshoeing trails lower down. Individual to Tamarack resort, Tamarack Forest offers some great trails through the trees.
Unusually these conifers are deciduous, which means snowfall is free to build up on the forest floor rather than collecting on the branches. This makes for better skiing through the trees.
Fun for Kids
For youngsters, there are private lessons for different age ranges from six, and group lessons such as the Child's Full Day Group Ski Lesson for ages 4-12, which include lunch. The emphasis is on skiing but also includes new places to ski and how to contact ski patrol. It’s worth noting that the Discovery Chair, the beginners’ lift is free.
For those who prefer off-site lodging, the nearby town of Donnelly has several budget hotels and rentals. Tamarack resort staff have a reputation for friendliness, which combined with the great views of the mountain and Lake Clarence make Tamarack a great family destination.
Off the Slopes
There is a variety of lodging close to the runs in Tamarack resort and some properties include free lift tickets for kids during the week. For example, the Lodge at Osprey Meadows includes hotel rooms, studios, and high-spec condos with free access to a large outdoor jacuzzi, which is ideal for families.
What We Love About Tamarack Resort:
- For an Idaho resort, Tamarack Resort punches above the weight
- Although naturally busier at the weekend lift lines and crowded slopes are rare
- The design of the ski terrain and trails has been thoughtful
- Deciduous conifers make for great tree skiing
Tamarack Resort Stats
|7700 ft / 2346.96 metres
3. Bogus Basin
Established for more than 80 years Bogus Basin, Idaho is still often touted as the most family-friendly resort in the state. Only 17 miles from Boise it is kept busy with the local inhabitants, as well as visitors from further afield.
Fun for Kids
Lessons for kids start at 7+ years and are aimed at skiers or snowboarders taking their first steps. Lessons usually last for one hour and 45 minutes and the price includes the lesson, ski rental, and the beginner area coach lift ticket. Instructors do their best to match lesson members by age and ability
Similar lessons are available for older kids, grouped as juniors and teens. Private Alpine and Nordic ski lessons are also available along with ski rental. There are childcare facilities, where parents can leave their children with qualified staff members. Of the 2600-acre site, 175 acres have been illuminated for night skiing.
The resort was set up as a non-profit recreation area, which it remains to this day, and where the focus is on families and affordability. With a total area of 2600 acres, Bogus Basin is divided into the backside terrain, which is shaded and consequently quieter. However, it still offers plenty of open, groomed runs, trailing through the forest.
The front side of the mountain is often busier, especially the beginner section. Being so close to a larger town there are some lift lines at busy times, although lift equipment is upgraded when practical to improve access. The resort has 82 runs, 10 lifts and 10% of the runs are suitable for newer skiers.
Off the Slopes
Condos are available for rental on the mountain or nearby Boise offers a good choice of the budget through to luxury lodging.
What We Love About Bogus Basin:
- Generally uncrowded especially during the week
- Long, well-groomed runs on the backside
- A cheap ski destination with cheap lift tickets and cheap lodging in Boise
- Plenty of terrains to explore
Bogus Basin Stats
|7582 ft / 2311 metres
2. Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Nestling in the Selkirk Mountains in northern Idaho, Schweitzer Ski Resort is only 80 miles from Spokane airport. Schweitzer Ski Resort has been in commercial operation since 1963 and it remains family orientated and unpretentious. Ski magazine reviews have quoted it to be: ‘the best-kept secret in North America’.
Fun for Kids
For the youngest kids, Kinder Camp combines part ski camp and part adventure camp. An all-day interactive program for youngsters aged between 4 - 6 years, which partly takes place in the Children’s Center. Activities include ski lessons, and then play art, and relaxation in the daycare center. For older kids, Mountain Xplorers, is a flexible, multi-week program recommended for kids aged, 5 - 12 years. Classes are organized so kids are grouped according to age and ability.
Spanning 2900 acres the resort offers good variety, accessed by 10 lifts, one of which is a more recent high-speed six-seater. Annual snowfall at 300 in (7.6 m) ensures good coverage and a longer season.
While only 10% of the trails are for beginners, they still should provide plenty of scope. There are several easy green runs, accessed by their own lift and a magic carpet, along with the beginners’ terrain park. These beginner runs fall from the village, where parents can watch the skier’s progress from the lodge.
Off the Slopes
There is some resort lodging, which is ski-in ski-out but you do pay a premium for it. The nearby town of Sandpoint is a good, lively alternative on the edge of Lake Pend Oreille
- Schweitzer Mountain resort is still uncrowded, especially during the week
- Compared to similar resorts Schweitzer Idaho prices are relatively cheaper
- There may be fewer beginner runs but beginner lift tickets are cheap
- There are spectacular views from the resort across to Lake Pend Oreille
Schweitzer Mountain Resort Stats
|6400 ft / 1950.72 metres
1. Bald Mountain - Sun Valley
Owned by a gold-mining company Sun Valley resort still retains something of its wild west flavor, which attracts Hollywood celebs drawn to roughing it in style. Also, many retirees gravitate to the relaxed atmosphere to make Sun Valley home.
Fun For Kids
During the morning, the kids’ snow sports lessons are run by dedicated resort ski instructors. For the youngest, 3 to 5 years, the Alpine au Pair class is billed as a fun environment to improve skills and confidence.
For older kids (6-17) the Dollar and Baldy Private Adventure lessons pack in the fun and the safety aspects of snow sports. Lower down the mountain 30 acres of glades are crisscrossed with Adventure Trails for kids.
There are two mountains at Sun Valley, Bald Mountain, or “Baldy”, as it’s known to regulars, has plenty of green and blue runs. While nearby Dollar Mountain is an open, protected beginners’ area that also has a terrain and tubing park.
With 3,400 ft (1036 m) of vertical fall and over 2,400 acres of varied terrain, Sun Valley has something for everyone. There are 13 lifts, 65 runs, a full-size terrain park, and best of all no lift lines. Some larger resorts moan that Sun Valley only receives 220” (5.6 m) of snow per season, but that’s still more than 18ft!
Off the Slopes
There is no ski-in ski-out lodging around the resort, so most skiers head to nearby Ketchum on the shuttle for its variety of simple hotels and upmarket lodges.
What We Love About Bald Mountain, Sun Valley:
- With its consistent, groomed slopes Sun Valley resort is pitched at intermediates, while the extensive kids’ amenities make it a family destination
- Compared to other large US ski resorts Sun Valley never gets crowded
- Sun Valley, Idaho has a charming and genteel vibe
- There are various activities and lessons on offer for kids
Bald Mountain, Sun Valley Stats
|9150 ft / 2789 metres
Why Choose Idaho for Skiing
The numerous ski resorts in Idaho have everything a family will need to have a great ski and snowboard session. From licensed daycare services that care for young children, trails that cater to all degrees of skill, ski and snowboard schools, and other activities to keep both the parents and the children engaged throughout the day. Round it out with a tasty dinner and sleep the fatigue away comfortably before rising up on a new day, energized and eager for a new adventure with the whole family.
How Did We Order This List?
To help rank our top selection of ski resorts for this list we compared the following ranking factors:
|👨👩👦 Ranking Factor
|📈 Power to affect Rank
|Amount of Beginner Trails (Mi)
|Amount of Skiing Area (Mi)
|Cost of two adult tickets + child ticket
|How many magic carpet lifts
We gave each factor its own weighting depending on how important we feel it is for family fun across all ages. For example, a resort with more beginner trails is higher ranked than a resort with a lower-priced family ticket - with all else being equal. That's because while cost is a factor, it's not a primary one. We may also use our editorial judgment to remove or add resorts that we believe should make the list.
When taking all of this into account, it gives us our awesome list above. We hope it was helpful in planning your next family ski vacation.