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Skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Sandpoint, Idaho
One of the largest ski and snowboard areas in the Northwest is Schweitzer Mountain Resort (10000 Schweitzer Mountain Road, Sandpoint, Idaho). Schweitzer is famous for its beautiful mountain scenery and diverse ski trails, which combine to make it one of the best resorts in the region. Even though it's very popular, the 2,900 acres of terrain ensures that you can easily avoid crowds.
Trail Variety and Difficulty
With a full 92 trails to try out, you'll never get bored at Schweitzer. However, there aren't a ton of beginner runs, and the ones that are there tend to be clustered low on the mountain. But there are lots of intermediate ones, including the renowned Ridge Run. If you want to try an expert trail, I'd recommend the fast-moving Pend Oreille.
In addition to the many alpine trails, there are three terrain parks: Stomping Grounds, Starfish Park, and Terrain Garden. Or if you want to do some cross-country skiing, Schweitzer provides a whopping 32 kilometers of trails.
Pricing and Hours
The prices are generally on the high side, though that's to be expected at a premier resort. An adult lift ticket is $67, and ages 7 to 17 are charged $50. Children 6 and under get to ski for free, which is great for families. You can also buy half-day passes, but you only get $10 off the regular price.
There are a variety of seasonal deals as well. My favorite is the Spring Fling Pass, which is available starting in early March. For $99, you get unlimited skiing until the resort closes for the year. For frequent skiers, this deal is too good to pass up.
At Schweitzer, the lifts operate from 9 a.m. until at least 4 p.m. every day. Part of the season, they operate until 7 p.m. for night skiing. The resort usually opens in early December, and closes some time in April.
Every week at Schweitzer there are at least a couple of special events goings on, ranging from ski races to wine tastings. One of their signature events is the 24 Hours of Schweitzer benefit, where money is raised for a rare medical condition called Cystinosis. During a 24-hour period, participants compete to see who can ski as many times as possible, and it's all for a good cause. In 2012, this event will start on March 30 and go into the next day.
A much lighter event is the Tropical Daze festival, which celebrates the end of the ski season. There are all sorts of family-friendly events to do on Tropical Daze, such as the Downhill Dummy Derby. In 2012, this event will begin on April 7.
Floyd Saunders, a native of snowy Minnesota, has been a downhill and cross-country skier since childhood.
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