There Are Other Ways to Ski

Surviving a North Idaho Winter

Tis the season to remind ourselves that living in North Idaho can be quite challenging, especially when it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon and you haven’t seen the sun since September. And though it is tough living here sometimes, we Sandpointians are tougher. We aren’t afraid of winter, by golly! We fight back with ice melt and studded snow tires! We buy mittens and hats! We drink a lot of hot drinks and flip through magazines about warmer places but the reality is through all that, we’re here for the duration.

And if that really is the case, it’s time for you to gift yourself a new perspective this holiday season. One that embraces the bracing cold of a North Idaho winter by trying invigorating sports or exploring new terrain.

Yes, we are all well aware that Sandpoint boasts the largest ski area in Idaho for alpine skiing and snowboarding. But did you also know that Schweitzer is home to over 20 miles of cross-country ski trails? Perhaps you are someone who is afraid of heights or the thought of sliding down a slippery slope fills you with dread and fear, but have you considered cross-country skiing or snowshoeing?

Cross-country skiing is a great way to get outside and get some much needed winter exercise without the fear of lifts or steep slopes. Around Sandpoint, you can get a taste for the sport by trying out the trails at the U of I center on North Boyer or by exploring the trail network up at Schweitzer. It’s up to you how fast or slow you go so you can tailor your ski experience to your ability level. If you don’t have gear, there are rentals available at the Alpine Shop in town, through the Sandpoint Nordic Club and also at Schweitzer.

As always when learning something new, lessons are a great way to start and the Sandpoint Nordic Club teams up with Schweitzer to offer a free ski day on December 15, 2018. There will be classic and skate skiing demos and lessons at “The Roundabout” on Schweitzer Mountain Road and if you register in advance, you can take advantage of free rentals through Schweitzer’s rental shop. To sign up, call the Ski & Ride Center at 208.255.3070 or send an email to

Another option to keep in mind is the ease and simplicity of snowshoeing. A lot of our favorite spots to walk in the summer can be our favorite spots in the winter too by simply attaching our boots to snowshoes. (Kind of like those studded snow tires on your car!) Don’t have snowshoes? Schweitzer offers rentals and hosted snowshoe hikes throughout the winter season and in town, Outdoor Experience rents snowshoes for just $20 a day.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are great affordable options for getting out and enjoying winter in Sandpoint. Not mention, they are great ways to see our beautiful area in a whole new light. So bundle up, rent some gear, then take a lesson and start exploring. You’ll be glad you did!