The family that skis together stays together. So says Suzette Miller, who co-owns Magic Mountain Resort with her husband, Gary. The wide variety of winter recreational activities available – from the challenge of back-country snowcat adventures to the easy fun of downhill tubing – is one of Southern Idaho's primary appeals, she says.
“The whole family can come here, and everybody has something they can do,” Miller says. “Southern Idaho is a really family-friendly area.”
Soldier Mountain Ski Area near Fairfield is a prime example of a facility that is welcoming to families. Actor Bruce Willis owned Soldier Mountain for nearly 20 years before donating it to a local nonprofit organization in 2012. It caters to the serious skier, as well as beginners as young as age 2.
“We’re a family resort and a teaching resort,” says Kristi Schiermeier, who manages Solider Mountain with her husband, Don. “We have a lot of variety and areas of expertise in a small area. It’s a place where you can take your whole family and everybody gets something out of it.”
Winter recreation can sometimes be intimidating to people who are inexperienced in such sports. That is why places such as Pomerelle Mountain Resort in Albion offer daily ski and snowboard lessons carefully organized by age and ability.
“Our ski school does a fantastic job of getting people going,” says Woody Anderson, who co-owns Pomerelle with his wife, Sandy. “We turn out a lot of first-time skiers and snowboarders. We have ideal terrain for people to learn on. It goes from very shallow slopes to very steep slopes."
Perhaps the easiest winter activity for the novice is tubing, where you simply sit back and let gravity do all the work. Magic Mountain offers a full-service tubing lift with multiple downhill lanes.
“That’s really great family fun for parties and holiday get-togethers,” Miller says. “It’s especially fun for people who don’t ski or snowboard. It gives the grandparents and the younger kids something to do.”
Of course, experienced skiers seek more of a challenge, and that type of winter activity can certainly be found in Southern Idaho, too.
Solider Mountain has approximately 1,800 acres devoted specifically to back-country downhill skiing. The skiers are transported by a truck-sized snowcat instead of a traditional ski lift to departure points nearly 10,000 feet in elevation.
Solider Mountain has added a new 12-person snowcat that includes a 47-inch television screen. Skiers can record their runs with small cameras attached to their helmets, and then insert the recording chip into the TV and watch the runs while being transported back up the hill.
“That’s for the big powder skiers who love to go hard all day,” Schiermeier says.
In the end, winter in Southern Idaho is all about outdoor fun with family and friends, regardless of your level of expertise.
“When snow hits the mountain, that doesn’t slow anybody down around here,” Schiermeier says. “We love to play, and we love to take our families. It’s an everybody-knows-your-name kind of deal. Once you’re a friend here, you’re always a friend.”
Check out more fun things to do in Twin Falls, ID.