Lookout Pass Ski Area

76 Years of History

Located just off I-90 at Exit 0, on the Idaho Montana border, midway between major airports in Spokane, WA, and Missoula, MT, Lookout Pass Ski Area is famous for its FREE ski school for kids 6 to 17, and DEEP champagne powder for everyone. Lookout Pass Ski Area has offered a family atmosphere and inexpensive winter adventures for seventy years. Created in 1938, the ski area on Lookout Pass was operated by the Idaho Ski Club, a non-profit community organization financed in large measure by several Silver Valley mines, until 1991, when it became a commercial venture.

Current view at at Exit 0
camera facing northwest

In 1998, about 50 acres, originally called Buzzards Valley, was opened for snowboarders and skiers. This area, renamed Claim Jumper in 2001, and B-52 in 2003, by the current Forest Service leasee, continues to attract the adventurous to its 1100 foot long terrain park and acres of trees. For the 2001/02 season, a new advanced beginner run named Hoot Owl was cut into the timbered area.

new in 2010
January February operation schedule:
WEDNESDAY thru Monday

Daily Snow Report
(via RSS in 2011/12 season)
 
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This page at wallace-id.com was last updated on Wednesday, January 04, 2012
 

Early in 2003, a major expansion began as a result of the Forest Service approved Final Environmental Impact Statement. Phase I of Alternative D was implemented for the 2003/04 season with the addition of a new lift and 5 new runs that face the St. Regis Lakes Basin to the south. All 7 new runs may be visualized by comparing

click to enlarge the new lodge as of March 19, 2004 Phase II was the expansion of the old outside deck into a two story building, with a dining area on the first floor during the 2004/05 season, and an 8 keg bar and scenic lounge on the second floor in time for the 2005/06 season.

click to enlarge the new lodge as of December 2, 2006
 
During the summer of 2006, the food court was greatly expanded and the front of the Lodge was modified to incorporate an efficient bay of ticket windows.

skiing on the new terrain facing the St. Regis Lakes Basin; photo by Paulette Ross; animation by Greg Marsh; click to read description

Phase III built the new north-facing ski area shown in the FEIS figure. As may be seen from the photos below, these runs are very steep and will appeal to experts and over-achieving intermediate skiers and boarders. The photos show the progression of events beginning with a cross valley view of the new terrain as of September 2006. The wide bare earth run will become Hercules. The middle photo was shot by someone who poached Hercules in December 2006. The run to the left will become Purgatory and will accommodate the new North Star chairlift in the summer of 2007. The photo on the right was shot midway down Hercules in December 2007. The mouseover enlargements associated with each photo show the same place. Click on a photo to enlarge it in a separate window.

The new North Star loading station is located just above the Northern Pacific Trail a forest road and historic railbed enhanced for recreational multi-use by the Friends of the Coeur d'Alene Trails and the High Mountain ATV Association during the summers of 2004 and 2005. The railbed is a popular snowmobiling and cross-country skiing route between Idaho and Montana every winter. Poachers used this route to get back to the resort during the 2006/07 ski season.

click to enlarge the new expert terrain as of September, 2006 click to enlarge the (out-of-bounds) expert terrain in December, 2006 click to enlarge the deep powder on Hercules in December, 2007
 
North Star Lift added in Lookout Pass Ski Area's 70th Year of Operation!

SHOSHONE NEWS-PRESS, Thursday, December 27, 2007:
Lookout Pass The lines cut into the north slope of Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area Wednesday morning were among the first ever made on that part of the mountain.

The six new runs down 1,000 vertical feet were previously untouched by skiers and boarders save for the odd backcountry skier, but they are now open to the public via a new chair lift system the North Star Chair that began running Wednesday.

The runs expand the the mountain's expert ski territory with three black diamond runs and three additional intermediate runs.

Silver Valley resident Greg Marsh was one of those skiers to make first tracks Wednesday morning.

"For years, Lookout has been famous as a family ski area," he said, "but this lift adds a whole new dimension to the mountain."

Marsh is a Lookout Pass season pass holder, and an expert skier with nearly 40 trips to the mountain logged last season. He said he still found the resort's new terrain challenging.

"It's really steep and pretty hard," he said. "Boy, I was literally over my head on Big Dipper (one of the new runs)."

Continue newspaper article...


Lookout's original opening day has been established as February 24, 1938, although skiing and a home-made rope tow have been documented as early as the winter of 1935/36. Lookout's original section of the base lodge is the second oldest ski lodge in the Northwest after Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood.

Lookout Pass Ski Area and the Route of the Hiawatha bike trail are operated by Lookout Associates, LLC, pursuant to special use permits with the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. Additional information concerning the Lookout Pass Ski Area and the Route of the Hiawatha bike trail can be found at Lookout Associates' websites, which can be accessed through the "official site" hyperlink appearing on this website, or by telephoning Lookout Associates at (208) 744-1301. Lookout Associates does not maintain the website you are now reading and is not responsible for its content.
 

The new terrain at Lookout Pass

On August 16, 2002, the Forest Service published its 249 page Final Environmental Impact Statement PDF document regarding the proposed expansion of the ski area. Four alternatives were presented and Alternative D was chosen in the Record of Decision announced on February 5, 2003.
    Unfortunately, the four topographic figures of interest are not legible in the 3.5 MByte PDF document, so I have scanned them and presented them here with my comments for your information. The JPG's have 523 to 551 Kbytes of bulk and open in separate windows.
    Greg Marsh
     
  • Alternative A = no action = present Ski Area, 335 acre permit, 850 foot elevation drop.
  • Alternative B = the owner's proposal, 594 acre permit. This option eliminates traditional snowmobile and cross-country ski trails, puts a run through a wetlands, and builds a lift terminal on top of a spring. It would allow the removal of 145 acres of trees.
  • Alternative C = the snowmobile compromise, 455 acre permit. This option, developed during the preparation of the Draft EIS, leaves the cross-country trail intact, reroutes the snowmobile trail over St. Regis Pass in one of two ways, and avoids the the wetland and spring areas. It would require the removal of 91 - 93 acres of trees, depending on the snowmobile reroute selected.
  • Alternative D = the new plan, 444 acre permit. This was the Forest Service's preferred option, developed after hearing the public response to the Draft EIS. It preserves the traditional snowmobile and cross-country ski trails around Runt Mountain, avoids development of the wetland and perennial spring areas, and preserves the backcountry solitude of St. Regis Pass and Basin. It only requires 85 acres of trees to be removed. The additional 87 acre ski area would contain two chair lifts and nine new intermediate and expert runs on the south and north slopes of Runt Mountain. The four expert runs facing north would have 840 foot vertical drops, while the runs and treed Montana slopes facing south would drop 1000 feet.
 
The new TIMBER WOLF double chair began operation on the Montana side of Runt Mountain on Friday, December 26, 2003. It services 2 advanced runs and 3 intermediate runs, the longest of which, Rainbow Ridge, is 1.2 miles long. The vertical drop at Lookout Pass Ski Area is now 1,100 feet, and the new runs provide spectacular views of the St. Regis and Copper Lake Basins along the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains!
The new NORTH STAR double chair began operation on the North Side of Runt Mountain on Wednesday, December 26, 2007. It services 3 expert runs, 2 advanced and 1 intermediate cat track. The steepest expert run is Big Dipper. The terrain drops 1000 vertical feet with the last 800 feet being the steepest. The north-facing deep powder runs provide spectacular views of the Silver Valley to the west.
Alternative D of the Lookout Pass Final Environmental Impact Statement

Click to enlarge (in new windows) the figure for Final Environment Impact Statement, Alternative D, and the 1995 aerial photo (4 meter resolution). Comparison of the two shows the location of the Buzzards Valley and Hoot Owl runs added in the 1998/99 and 2001/02 seasons.

The cartoon below, extracted from the official 2004/05 ski map and rotated, shows an artist's interpretation of the new runs at Lookout Pass. Notice differences with the reality of the aerial photo taken on June 1, 2004 (click to enlarge in a separate window). However, the final result may be seen as a validation of the spirit and wisdom of Alternative D.

The new runs are named Rainbow Ridge, Cloud 9, Keystone, Whitetail and Sun Dance, going from west to east, from the longest intermediate (1 mile) to the steepest expert run under the new double chair lift. All runs start out gentle and uniformly get steeper until you reach the slow skiing area at the bottom. Need more information?

To see topographical animations of what skiing on the spectacular new Montana terrain is like, check out my fanciful NEW LOOKOUT PASS RUNS page (which will open in a new window because of its bulk).
Greg Marsh
1995 aerial photo of Lookout Pass Ski Area
  extract from official 2004/05 Lookout Pass Ski Area Map click to enlarge this aerial photo taken in July 2004

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US Forest Service, USDA Lookout Pass Ski Area operates under a Special-Use Permit of the U.S. Forest Service with Lookout Associates, LLC, in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.
click to see the Route of the Hiawatha
Summer 2001
Lookout Associates, LLC, is also the concessionaire for the nearby 15 mile long Route of the Hiawatha (a.k.a. "Taft Tunnel") mountain bike trail.
 
 
Thank you for your interest in this Silver Valley attraction. Please note that my webwork is in no way associated with the current Forest Service leasee of the ski area on Lookout Pass, Lookout Associates, LLC, but is based on public information, my experience managing the rental and retail shop on this Forest Service property during the 2000/01 season, and my involvement with the Lookout Pass Ski Area in prior seasons. The purpose of this 20 page wallace-id.com websuite is to provide current and historical information about the area, to offer an independent viewpoint on the operation of this community asset, to share photographs of my favorite ski area (including the one on the right taken in 1994), and to present original topographical animations of the new terrain described in the approved expansion plans. Other than small commissions from occasional Amazon sales, no financial gain is realized from this websuite. It exists as part of a larger mission to promote all recreational opportunities near Wallace, Idaho, in order to improve the area's general economy.
 
Greg Marsh, Ph.D.
Marsh Scientific Services
Please visit skilookout.com for more information about this Silver Valley attraction.

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Greg Marsh, Ph.D.
Marsh Scientific Services


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last update on Wednesday, January 04, 2012