Chutes, glades, groomers, wide-open bowls — this is truly a snow-fiend's dreamscape. Schweitzer Mountain Resort drapes across two sizeable basins in a 2,900-acre, 92-trail skiing and snowboarding bonanza. An assortment of bars, cafes and restaurants in the base village, coupled with the Sky House Lodge at the top of the resort's Great Escape Quad, promise plenty of dining and refreshment options to keep riders fueled for a day (or days) of exploration.
With all Schweitzer has to offer, marketing manager Dig Chrismer understands that people may feel a tad intimidated. It is, after all, the largest resort in the Inland Northwest, and consistently ranks among the top in the nation. But the real perk of the resort, she says, is the down-home vibe on display at every turn (not to mention the short lift lines). Schweitzer has all the amenities of a major snowsport destination with zero pretension. "We're still pretty mom-and-pop," Chrismer says. "The lifties, after a couple of runs, will recognize you."
What's new: Thanks to its partnership with the Selkirks Pend Oreille Transit bus system, Schweitzer announced free bus service this season from the Red Barn parking lot to the village. "Parking can be challenging up here," Chrismer says, so the free offering will be a major advantage for skiers and snowboarders. Other than that, Schweitzer's off-season has been devoted to lift maintenance and other housekeeping duties, as well as preparing to replace the Snow Ghost double in the Outback Bowl next summer.
Making the most of it: Part of what can make bigger resorts intimidating for riders is lift ticket cost. But even here, Chrismer says, those setting their sights on Schweitzer can be savvy. Discount season passes are still available through Oct. 31, and there are still deals to be had all season. Chrismer suggests buying a Sunday Solutions pass online for $30 (at the window, it's $40), which gets you full mountain access from 12:30 to close. Schweitzer also offers $20 Twilight Skiing passes, valid from 3-7 pm on Fridays and Saturdays from Jan. 4 to March 2 (and on holidays). "I think there's a perception that skiing in general is expensive, and that Schweitzer as a big resort is more expensive," Chrismer says. "There are ways to work around that." She also recommends checking out the Outback Inn at the base of the Outback Bowl, which will be cooking up barbecue chicken and ribs outside on Saturdays and brisket on Sundays.
Lift passes: Adult full day (18-64), $81; half day, $69. Junior full day (7-17), $50; half day, $69. College students, active military and seniors receive a 10 percent discount with ID.