Mountain steepness for a once-a-year, barely intermediate skier: B
On-mountain food: A
Lack of Crowds: A+
Schweitzer Mountain Resort in Idaho is an uncrowded, low altitude ski resort in the northern part of Idaho near the city of Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille.
In fact, with a top elevation of 6400 feet, Schweitzer is the one of the lowest altitude major ski resorts in the west. The adjacent town of Sandpoint is also at a comfortable 2130 feet, so anyone with high altitude problems should be fine here.
We flew into Spokane, Washington and rented a car with no problems, and then it was an easy 1.5 hour drive to our lodging. In half an hour, we drove through a lakeside town called Coeur d’Alene. On our return, we stopped and walked around the lake a bit and had a nice lunch there.
We were there in mid-March and there were no crowds at Schweitzer whatsoever.
The Schweitzer bunny hill is one of the longest I’ve ever been on, and is almost like a regular run. You cannot see the bottom from the top, unlike some others I’ve been on, like Brighton in Utah. It is also conveniently located next to a cafeteria, which had some great food. I think I had a gyro.
The front side runs at Schweitzer were a little too steep for us, while the runs on the back side were gentler, and more blue-green. It had also been three years since we’d previously skied too, so that may have had something to do with everything seeming so steep. While there were enough runs to keep someone like us busy for a week, I’m not sure if there’s enough to keep active teenagers busy. While Schweitzer is certainly a decent-sized ski resort, it is small next to something as massive as Snowmass, which was our last ski trip before this one.
There is a great view of Lake Pend Oreille from the top of Schweitzer, and the lake is the focal point of the cute and compact town of Sandpoint. We stayed at the Lodge at Sandpoint, which sits right on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille, and our room had a beautiful view of the lake. In fact, the first picture you see on this website is a sunset overlooking that lake, with Schweitzer Mountain to the far right.
We found lots of good, fresh food in Sandpoint, which made the trip even more enjoyable. While our lodge proclaimed to serve a free breakfast, there was nothing offered I cared to eat, since I don’t care for plain, white flour products. There was no protein offered, and I didn’t think it would be wise to hit the slopes with just tea and a banana in my belly.
But we did find a wonderful restaurant in Sandpoint called DiLuna’s, which served some marvelous breakfast selections, including German sausages and sweet potato hash browns, yum! Second Avenue Pizza had some of the best pizza topping combinations I’ve ever tasted, on some of the most loaded pizzas I’ve ever seen,
and the Pie Hut had unique sandwiches and homemade pies; great for take-out on the way home from skiing. I remember a marvelous portobello mushroom roast beef and my husband had a wonderful turkey with cranberry sauce. If you like pie, well they’ve got so many flavors it’s difficult to choose! The picture on the left only shows one of their pie cases–there was actually more! Huckleberry is the local berry, and of course they make a huckleberry pie, or you can have it on top of cheesecake. This picture also shows a huckleberry rhubarb. Being a chocoholic I had the chocolate peanut butter cream pie in the upper left corner. It was a perfect vacation day: skiing at Schweitzer, followed by food/pies from the Pie Hut!
A good day trip is a drive to Montana to see the rapids at Kootenai Falls. I love the sound of rushing water, which there’s lots of, and there’s even a swinging overhead bridge that kids would love. Quite a scenic and fun day trip.
If anybody’s a train nut, the trains run right through this area, so you can see them up close if they happen to come by. All in all, we definitely enjoyed the town of Sandpoint and would certainly return to Schweitzer.