I've lived in places where if you have the perfect plan and ideal weather, you can manage a half-day skiing and a quick round of golf between breakfast and dinner. It wasn't until I visited North Idaho's Silver Mountain Resort, though, that I realized an ambitious soul could make turns through fresh powder all day, and find that surf's up a mere three-mile, 19-minute gondola ride away.
Silver Mountain's combined offerings of a fun bunch of ski runs and giant indoor waterpark — as well as plush rental condos and base village full of dining options — made a family jaunt to Kellogg just the ticket for a worthy start to 2017.
If you ever want a skiing experience with virtually no lift lines, head to Silver on New Year's Day. Skipping out on New Year's Eve parties allowed us to hit the road from Spokane early and make our way across I-90 in time for the household's 13-year-old to take a morning lesson. Fresh snow dumping through the day made every trip a powder run, and we went straight from hills to lifts and back down again for hours, only pausing for a quick lunch of burgers, burritos and French fries at the Mountain House Grill.
After skiing for hours, we rode the gondola to the village and checked into the Morning Star Lodge. Had we planned on staying for several days, the condo setup would have been ideal, with its full kitchen and washer/dryer. As mere overnighters, we treated it as simply a spacious hotel room. We ordered some tasty pies from the village's Wildcat Pizza, then promptly traded our ski gear in for swimsuits to head to the Silver Rapids Water Park a mere 20 yards or so away from our building.
After a day in chilly, snow-blown conditions, you can imagine how nice it was to walk into an 84-degree enclosure big enough to house multiple stories-high waterslides, a lazy river, a giant play set called Minor's Island and the incredibly popular FlowRider Surf Wave. There was a line of people taking turns surfing and boogie-boarding on the thing for the entire two-plus hours we spent in the waterpark.
While the park was definitely busy — Silver Mountain Marketing Coordinator Willy Bartlett says the holidays are the resort's busiest two weeks of the winter — it was still easy to take multiple runs down the water slides. The adults in our group, though — considerably spent after a day on the slopes — were content to enjoy a soak in the bar-side hot tub on the waterpark's second floor, overlooking the various attractions. And while the surfing looked fun, exhaustion and the desire for a sweet treat from the dessert menu at the village's Noah's Canteen proved the right way to end one epic day in Idaho.♦
Changes at Silver
Before the 2016-17 ski season even started, there was big news for fans of North Idaho's Silver Mountain Resort. Jeld-Wen Holdings, Inc., the company which owned the Kellogg ski spot for 20 years, announced that it was selling the resort for $5 million.
The new owner is Seattle-based businessman Tryg Fortun, whose purchase includes the ski operation, gondola, nine-hole Galena Ridge golf course, condo complex and waterpark. Fortun reportedly already owned several condos in the Morning Star Lodge complex at Silver Mountain, and is a regular at the resort. In a report in Ski Area Management magazine, Fortun said Silver Mountain is his favorite resort, and he plans to "up the stoke" in Kellogg and make Silver "the preferred year-round destination resort in the Pacific Northwest."