Lookout Pass is something of a magnet for snowfall. Situated along the Idaho-Montana border just off I-90, the area attracts an annual average of more than 400 inches of snow, making it a regional favorite for early-season turns. The summit of Runt Mountain marks the meeting point of three separate lifts, each offering a wildly different way to enjoy Lookout's 540 skiable acres. Riders can have their pick of long rolling groomers, powder-filled glades or steep moguled headwalls. And at the end of each day, there's the likely promise that next time, every track will be filled back in.
What's new: Those who weren't able to hit Lookout Pass before last season's early closure will finally get the opportunity this time around to ride the frontside quad, and the grinding down of stumps off chair three will definitely enhance the tree-skiing experience. Otherwise, says marketing and sales manager Matt Sawyer, COVID-19 is going to make for a much different look at Lookout in 2020-21. The mountain isn't looking at limiting ticket sales yet, but masks will be a must indoors and in high-traffic areas. There won't be any place inside to stash packs or hang out for long periods, Sawyer adds, though expanded outdoor seating should give people plenty of space to enjoy lunch. Also, private lessons will be available, by reservation, for families with mixed skill levels in an effort to keep household groups together.
Making the most of it: Based on the record number of visitors along the Route of the Hiawatha Scenic Bike Trail this summer, Sawyer anticipates a busy winter season for Lookout. He recommends snagging a day pass online in advance of any trip. Keeping a few extra layers in the car, along with some snacks, will give guests a safe and distanced option for breaks throughout the day. As for Sawyer's tip for navigating the mountain: "I would say keep your nose pointed into the sun on cold days, and if you're into the powder, the trees will definitely be the place to be."