by Mike Corrigan

Where: Kellogg, Idaho

phone: (800) 204-6428

Web site:

Vertical drop: 2,200 ft.

Average snowfall: 300 inches

Lifts: One quad, two triples, two doubles, 1 handle tow and one gondola

Hill info: 1,590 acres; 67 trails; 20% Beginner; 40% Intermediate; 30% Advanced; 10% Expert

Hours: Open 8 am-5 pm daily. Night skiing Friday and Saturday, December 20 to mid-March from 3-9 pm

Lift tickets: $10-$39

Events: November 20: Back to Winter Bonfire Party; November 25: Season Opening Day

Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho is a mere one-hour drive East from Spokane on Interstate 90. That's good news for local skiers and for the people of this sturdy mining town, a community that has undergone an amazing transformation in recent years into a tourist destination whose recreational appeal transcends the seasons. But this time of the year, there's just one thing on folks' minds: the mounds of new snow. And the skiing at Silver Mountain is world class. In fact, Ski Magazine recently called it "One of the Three Best Mountains You've Never Skied." Best mountain you've never skied? Well, what the rest of the skiing world might only now be waking up to, Inland Northwest skiers have known for years: that Silver Mountain -- with a vertical drop of 2,200 feet, a satisfying mix of beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert runs and consistently voluminous annual snowfalls of light, fluffy powder -- is the recreational jewel of Idaho's Silver Valley.

The Silver Mountain gondola ride is a tourist attraction in itself. It comfortably whisks skiers and snowboarders 3.1 miles and several thousand vertical feet up the side of the mountain to the resort's day lodge in just under 20 minutes. The ride is unbelievably smooth and sheltered from the wind. It's convenient, too -- no icy mountain roads to navigate means that Silver Mountain is one of the safest, most easily accessible ski destinations in the region.

Another Silver Mountain value added benefit is their famous grooming guarantee, which states that if grooming conditions don't meet your expectations, Silver Mountain will provide you with a free day of skiing (you have to alert them to your dissatisfaction within one hour of your ticket purchase to take advantage).

But it's the superior guest services that cement it all together. They've got a state-licensed day care facility up there, ski and snowboard lessons from certified instructors, and a pair of sports shops (one at the base and one on top) with all the gear (for sale and rental) you can imagine. Then there's human fuel -- food -- with everything from snacks to full service dining at the Alpenrose (on top) and Terrible Edith's Pub & amp; Grill (at the base lodge).

And the accommodations at Silver just keep improving -- and expanding. This year the resort has grown over the expanse of Silver Mountains' twin peaks, adding more runs, more acres of challenging terrain. Also, accommodating kids takes on added emphasis this year. In addition to the already fine kid-friendly learning programs at Silver, the Silver Mountain Alpine Race Team (SMART) offers kids a chance to learn the fundamentals of winter sports competition. SMART training programs are run by certified coaches and are a fun and surprisingly affordable way for 5 to 14-year-olds to get serious about ski racing.

Strange and wonderful things are happening at the base of the mountain. The Morning Star Lodge and Gondola Village development are underway, slowly but surely transforming the base of Silver Mountain into a picture book alpine village with all manner of shops, a residential community and public spaces.

Publication date: 11/11/04

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