NY Ski Magazine: The Inland Northwest

Even though I’ve written three dozen resort features over the past decade, I still have a long way to go before I’ve visited all of North America’s major ski regions, particularly out west.


Just off the top of my head, I still haven’t made turns in California, British Columbia, Montana, western Washington and Oregon, central Idaho, Maine, or Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula. Being based near NYC (at least for the near future), that should keep me busy for a while.

Thankfully, last March, I finally got around to a region that had evaded my grasp for a while: the Inland Northwest, located in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Within a two-hour drive of the Spokane airport, there are five interesting and varied ski areas covering the gamut from full-service resorts to entertaining off-the-beaten-path day areas. What’s more, everything is surrounded by beautiful scenery: lakes, mountains, and gorgeous vistas, along with the cute towns of Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene. Explore:

NY Ski Magazine
Inland Northwest: Destination, Not A Gateway

There’s (Still) Something about McConkey

Shane-McConkey-FoundationTo call Shane McConkey one of the all-time greats in skiing almost does him a disservice. To me, he’s the Babe Ruth of skiing.

Shane is literally the man who brought fat skis down from the heavens (Tahoe) and taught the masses to ski pow in the way that Ruth taught Major League Baseball how to hit home runs.

The apocryphal story of Shane using waterskis to show Volant how they would work in powder is the modern day equivalent of Ruth calling his shot over the centerfield wall. (Pardon the crude analogies, but there are only two sports I care about, skiing and baseball and it’s the time of year when both are in season.)

Squaw has enjoyed a nice run at the pinnacle of skiing history from the 1960 Olympic Games to the original Extreme scene in the 1980’s. More recently it was the home of Shane, and friends like Scott Gaffney, who were pioneering freeriding and having a tremendous amount of fun inventing games like G.N.A.R.  And the mountain lends itself to showing off. Tahoe’s gorgeous snow and sunshine provides a great venue to express yourself on convenient, aesthetic, steep lines located under the chairlifts.

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The Mountains Less Traveled: The San Juans

Success is mostly luck, but sometimes, you make your own luck. I recently returned from a destination trip that defied the odds. In the middle of a so-so season both here and in Southwest Colorado, I was still able to ski terrific conditions at four great mountains.

Skiing Southwest Colorado

Even better was the fact that everything else went down smoothly: no lines or white-knuckle drives, and a happy significant other. It’s now a month later, and I’m still convinced that it was the perfect trip.

Next time anyone tries to convince you to watch the weather, burn old ski gear, or sacrifice a chicken before booking a flight, don’t bother. It’s bound to be a good experience no matter what happens: strikes and gutter balls, powder or groomers. There’s always the chance that you’ll luck out, especially if you pick a cool destination like the San Juan Mountains.

This is not a tall tale from the mile-high state. I’ve got more than anecdotal evidence — I have the pictures to prove it. So take a look. It’s all good when you’re skiing southwest Colorado. Click on the link to read:

NY Ski Magazine’s
San Juan Mountain Diamonds