by Suzanne Schreiner & r & Silver Mountain is booming again, though this time it's not about ore, but instead a real estate mother lode at the Kellogg resort. In September, the resort sold its entire stock of 110 new condos in a single day, so people are catching on to the possibilities of the Silver Valley. Of course, this time of year, the draw is heaps of beautiful white snow. The first Friday in November, with a full three weeks to count down to T-Day, WebCam2 was showing a snowy scene, lending hope to the notion of a Thanksgiving opening.
From downtown Spokane, an hour's drive on I-90 gets you to the mountain. The high-speed gondola zips you up three miles and 4,000 vertical feet to the resort's day lodge in less than 20 minutes. Once there, skiers have 1,500 powder-covered acres to play on. Though last year's snowfall was uncharacteristically sparse, Silver's 6,300-foot peak lies smack under the Pacific storm track and just west of the Continental Divide, so your chances of fresh powder are as good here as anywhere. The varied terrain offers plenty of challenges for the expert, but beginners can also find their ski legs.
Meanwhile, back at Morningstar Lodge, your Aunt Ida can happily while away the hours. She can wander through the storybook Gondola Village and then, when the skiers come back for lunch, you can all amble over to Terrible Edith's Bar & amp; Grill, named for the mountain's signature, double-black diamond run. Later, they can get an espresso at Mountain Tapas Caf & eacute;, and a glass of wine for Aunt Ida. (Caffeine makes her nervous.)
Once you're back on the slopes, the Snowsport Adventure School has lessons for everyone, from kids to adults, beginners to experts.
What would Noah Kellogg -- the miner who started it all when his jackass stumbled over that first lump of lead ore -- make of the old claim? Where once he grubbed for riches, condos now loom, and the mother of all water parks will open next year. The vittles are whole lot better, too.
Where: Kellogg, Idaho & r & phone: (208) 204-6428 & r & Web site: www.skisilver.com & r & Vertical drop: 2,200 ft. & r & Average snowfall: 300 inches & r & Lifts: One quad, two triples, two doubles, 1 handle tow and one gondola & r & HILL INFO: 1,500 acres & r & HOURS: 8:30 am - 5 pm daily; nights 3 pm - 9 pm Friday and Saturday & r & LIFT TICKETS: $10 - $42 & r & MAJOR EVENTS: Annual Bonfire Bash on Nov. 12; Opening Day on Nov. 24 (if snow cooperates); New Year's Eve Party and Torchlight Parade on Dec. 31; Jackass Ski Day on Jan. 7; Mardi Gras and Microbrew Party on Feb. 25; Sun, Snow, and Suds Spring Carnival on April 1-2